3 Ways You Confuse Potential Donors
Quick question: How do you feel about your marketing and fundraising? Do you feel like everything is going as well as possible? Are you hitting your goals? Bringing in potential donors?
Or are you feeling a little stagnant or stuck? Like you just can’t get to that next level of growth?
Listen, I get it. I spent many years sitting where you’re sitting, and I speak with nonprofit leaders every day who feel what you’re feeling.
One of the main reasons nonprofits struggle to get the results they want is simply this: They unintentionally confuse potential donors.
Are you confusing potential donors? We have found that there are three primary causes of confusion. Here they are:
Cause No. 1: You Confuse People If You Assume They Know What You Know
You have a complete understanding of the problem your nonprofit is working to solve. You understand the nuances and cultural factors involved. To you, it makes perfect sense, but that’s because you’re immersed in it every day.
But what about the rest of us who are just visiting your website for the first time? Can we quickly and easily understand why the problem exists?
Think about it. Do you fully understand why refugees are arriving in the U.S.? How about the reasons behind homelessness? Or hunger? Or human trafficking?
Be careful not to assume people understand why the problem exists. Spell it out for them, make it clear.
Why? Because when you clearly explain the problem you’re solving to people, some important things happen:
- They trust you as an expert on the issue.
- They better understand how your nonprofit’s work makes a difference.
- They feel more empathy for the people (or animals) you’re helping.
So, break down the problem your nonprofit solves into simple, bite-sized pieces that anyone can understand. Make it clear, and don’t assume.
Cause No. 2: You Confuse People If You Try to Say Too Much
Your nonprofit is doing amazing work. You do lots of different things to help people and make an impact.
But here’s an important truth: If you try to tell people everything, they won’t hear anything.
People are busy. They have short attention spans. So if your website or emails or videos are filled with clutter and noise, they will simply tune out.
But if you tell a simple, clear story, people will pay attention.
Cause No. 3: You Confuse People If You Try to Sound Too Smart
One of the mistakes nonprofits make is that they use insider language, because they want to show that they’re intellectual and thoughtful in their approach. And that’s fine in an academic setting. But that doesn’t mean you should communicate that way in your marketing.
Here’s a little test for you: Is your marketing smarter than a fifth grader? Well, to be honest, it really shouldn’t be.
If a fifth grader can’t quickly and easily understand what you do, you’re probably overcomplicating your message. Use words and concepts that anyone, even a fifth grader, can easily understand.
Most good ideas are simple. Keep your marketing clear and simple to avoid confusion.
I encourage you to review your website, emails, and other communications. Can you say what you want to say more clearly, more simply and with fewer words?
Rod Arnold is the strategy and marketing lead at Leading Good. As the former COO of Charity: Water, Rod helped lead the young organization through a period of tremendous growth. Now he helps other nonprofits grow by applying principles and strategies that are proven to work. Learn more at leadinggood.com