Fundraising that everyone likes never works

In a recent MondayMorningMemo (email newsletter), Roy Williams, writing about radio advertising, tells us a truth that really disturbs some people: “The ads we hate often work better than the ads we love.” (Counterintuitive Radio)

In fact, the ads that everybody loves usually don’t accomplish their purpose; that ones that generate all the complaints are the ads that bring home the bacon. Williams points out:


  • Voices that belong on the radio are easy to ignore. Voices that don’t belong on the radio usually sell more product.
  • “Smooth ads” are built from worn-out phrases that are likewise easy to ignore. Effective ads often feature broken sentences. Half sentences. Non-sequiturs.
  • Music beds “sound good” because they help blur the ads into the format. This makes the ads … easier to ignore.
  • Humor is like nitroglycerine.

This is also true about most forms of marketing, especially fundraising.

Things that are “rough,” “loud,” and strange work. The big winners always generate the most complaints.

Things designers don’t like to design because it doesn’t look so great in their portfolio. Copy writers sometimes resist writing because it’s not elegant and refined the way they work so hard to be. And broadcast producers will fight like crazy to make your message blend in with everything else on the air like seamless aural wallpaper.

Our job as fundraisers is not to create a restful, tasteful, vaguely pleasant experience. It’s to make a noise that startles donors to action.

This is why effective direct mail is almost never pretty.

But the results it generates to make the world a better place: Pure beauty.


Comments

6 responses to “Fundraising that everyone likes never works”

  1. Ah can we apply this to your post “nothing is stupid about this”? As I said in my comment-It doesn’t fit, it’s wrong, or silly, but you’re ALL TALKING ABOUT IT. It’s one of the most commented articles this week.
    It may not raise much money, but it’s going to raise awareness of your nonprofit. I think more nonprofits would take the risk to look silly if they were empowered to making mistakes like this ad firm.
    Mazarine
    http://wildwomanfundraising.com

  2. Ah can we apply this to your post “nothing is stupid about this”? As I said in my comment-It doesn’t fit, it’s wrong, or silly, but you’re ALL TALKING ABOUT IT. It’s one of the most commented articles this week.
    It may not raise much money, but it’s going to raise awareness of your nonprofit. I think more nonprofits would take the risk to look silly if they were empowered to making mistakes like this ad firm.
    Mazarine
    http://wildwomanfundraising.com

  3. Talk is cheap. It’s extremely cheap when it’s not even prospective donors who are talking. “We’ll get people talking” is part of the koolaid the ad agencies give us to make us want their stupid work.
    There’s a fundamental difference between the “rough” marketing Williams is talking about here and a stupid, misdirected stunt like the “Nothing” campaign. The former is going to fund your work. The latter won’t.

  4. Talk is cheap. It’s extremely cheap when it’s not even prospective donors who are talking. “We’ll get people talking” is part of the koolaid the ad agencies give us to make us want their stupid work.
    There’s a fundamental difference between the “rough” marketing Williams is talking about here and a stupid, misdirected stunt like the “Nothing” campaign. The former is going to fund your work. The latter won’t.

  5. Well said, Mr. Brooks!

  6. Well said, Mr. Brooks!

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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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