The Goliath Fallacy

Davidgoliath

We often draw inspiration from the story of David and Goliath. How inspiring that the little guy boldly walked out there and took the big guy down.

Here’s the bad news: 99% of the time, Goliath wins.

That’s why it’s so exciting when David wins.

We tend to take the wrong inference from the story, because we know the ending of the story. We seem to think it tells us the underdog wins. We’re going to win, just like David!

That’s not what it tells us. It tells us that the underdog can win. But it’s amazing when it happens. And part of the reason he won was he was very well prepared.

If you want inspiration from that story, make it this: When the little guy has a secret weapon that he really, really knows how to use — sometimes he beats the odds.

Practical takeaway for fundraisers: More likely than not, your keen new idea won’t work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try — in fact, you’d be crazy not to try. But be prepared for failure. And don’t bet the farm on David.


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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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About the blogger

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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