To the Point: You Talk, Donors Listen
The human mind is like one of those kitchen gadgets featured in late-night infomercials. It beats, twists, separates, slices, dices and otherwise transforms everything that enters it. You gave someone a carrot, but before you know it, she's turned it into a bouquet of julienned strips.
In other words, what you think you're communicating often bears little resemblance to what someone hears and thinks. Your ideology is no match for your audience's own mental machinations.
So what's a fundraiser to do? The solution is to understand how your audience's minds work — and adjust your communications accordingly. You have a better chance of success with this approach than you ever have in trying to get your audience to see the world — and your message — as you do.
Small, not big
People understand the world on a personal scale. They can relate to a hungry person more easily than they can relate to hunger on a global level. They're more motivated to act by one man's struggle with homelessness than they are by the fact that an estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless. People focus on what they can grasp. The bigger the scale of what you're communicating, the smaller the impact on your audience.
What does this mean to you? If you write something like, "Malnutrition, in the form of iodine deficiency, is the most common cause of mental impairment, reducing the world's IQ by an estimated billion points," people might think something like, "Wow, that's depressing. Life stinks for a lot of people. I'm going to go watch Jon Stewart to cheer up."
People aren't bad for thinking this. They're just human. If you want to communicate with them on the scale they comprehend — a human scale — then take the big issue your organization addresses and communicate it through stories about one person, one whale, one tree.