Fundraising without hope

A lot of the time, we only do half our job as fundraisers. We vividly show our donors a problem. Of course, that’s the first half and the critical half, because they need to see the problem if they’re going to help solve it with us.

But we tend to leave out the other half of the message: The part where we tell them there is a solution, that it can happen, and that it will be wonderful when it does.

Water Words That Work has noticed this tendency in environmental fundraising, at Cowboys, Conservationists, and the Hopeful Herd:

When we are trying to make something happen, conservationists sometimes think like cowboys. We break out the cattle prod and try to shock the public into action with a stiff jolt of bad news…. But if you just jolt them repeatedly with the bad news cattle prod, you might demoralize and desensitize your audience. Sure, they might agree with you — but they won’t do anything.

That’s right, and the practice is common not only in environmental fundraising. The trouble is, when your messaging is all problem and no solution, you’re training your donors not to pay attention. Why should they? You’ve been systematically proving to them that their gifts don’t make any difference.

Make sure you paint a picture of what the gift will accomplish. And after a donor gives, make sure you report what happened.


Comments

4 responses to “Fundraising without hope”

  1. Such good points, people focus so much on the problem and what is wrong versus the solution and what is working.

  2. Such good points, people focus so much on the problem and what is wrong versus the solution and what is working.

  3. Indeed. Hope is what nourishes philanthropy. Without hope — or confidence in the future — would there be any sort of voluntary deed?

  4. Indeed. Hope is what nourishes philanthropy. Without hope — or confidence in the future — would there be any sort of voluntary deed?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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