Don’t try to double up calls to action in fundraising — except…

It’s a huge mistake to try to accomplish two different things in one fundraising message.

If you try to ask for a gift and also invite donors to an event or get them to inquire about planned giving — you’ll end up accomplishing neither goal very well.

I know one cool exception to the one-thing rule in fundraising: the principle of contrast.

It works like this: Tell donors there are two ways to help: One is difficult, like sell everything you own, and join our staff as a volunteer hermit. The other is easy — give a gift of $62.

By showing two ways to take action, one much more difficult than giving, you make giving seem more easy, more reasonable, more do-able by contrast. (Of course, the difficult option must be real: you may get takers!)

Otherwise, only ask for one thing at a time. This is hard-earned experience talking.


Comments

4 responses to “Don’t try to double up calls to action in fundraising — except…”

  1. This reminds me of the top girl scout cookie seller one year. She was asked the secret to her success. She replied, “I just went to every house and asked, can I have a $30,000 donation for the girl scouts?’ When they said No, I would ask, “would you buy a box of Girl Scout cookies then?” That eight year-old certainly understood the contrast principle!

  2. This reminds me of the top girl scout cookie seller one year. She was asked the secret to her success. She replied, “I just went to every house and asked, can I have a $30,000 donation for the girl scouts?’ When they said No, I would ask, “would you buy a box of Girl Scout cookies then?” That eight year-old certainly understood the contrast principle!

  3. Jeff, if my fundraising emails, I usually ask people to either donate $1 or just share my link so that people they know can have a chance to donate. These two options are not good, right? Do you think asking people to “donate a medicine worth (for example) $1000 or donate $1” is a good way to apply the ‘contrast principle’? I’ve been promoting my cause for more than 200 people now and still continuing to promote it but only 4 people (whom I know) did made a donation. If you have time, hope you can (or someone) will visit my blog (by clicking my name) to give me feedback on how I can promote and do better in my cause (and hopefully, donate too) 🙂

  4. Jeff, if my fundraising emails, I usually ask people to either donate $1 or just share my link so that people they know can have a chance to donate. These two options are not good, right? Do you think asking people to “donate a medicine worth (for example) $1000 or donate $1” is a good way to apply the ‘contrast principle’? I’ve been promoting my cause for more than 200 people now and still continuing to promote it but only 4 people (whom I know) did made a donation. If you have time, hope you can (or someone) will visit my blog (by clicking my name) to give me feedback on how I can promote and do better in my cause (and hopefully, donate too) 🙂

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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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