How to raise funds like a Nigerian email scammer

Who knew? There’s something we fundraisers can learn from those Nigerian email scammers. Check out this post at the Neuromarketing blog: Marketing Lessons from Nigerian Scammers.

It’s possible the transparently phony messages from these guys is a way of zeroing in a well-defined target audience. Anyone who’s at all skeptical (or even has normal common sense) is not a good prospect, and thus a serious waste of time:

… if more potential skeptics are knocked out of the conversion funnel at the outset, the density of potential victims goes up in the smaller pool of prospects. The scammer wastes less time and can convert more victims to maximize profit. Even if a few good prospects are lost by using less plausible pitch, the higher density of victims in the final pool makes the entire process more profitable.

The Nigerian scam doesn’t appeal to most people. It can’t even work on the fairly large slice of people who are merely gullible. It only works on thundering idiots with no judgment and a wide stripe of greed. That’s a very specific psychographic segment.

The scammers use their outlandish emails that most of us see through in half a second to strip out all the unsuitable “customers” — and focus in on their true target audience of thundering idiots. Pretty smart.

If you think your audience is “everyone,” you are way behind the Nigerian scammers in marketing savvy.

Your ideal donor is likely someone as specific and well defined as that of the scammers. (Though not thundering idiots, I hope.)

What do you do with your language that filters out everyone except those who really fit your offer?


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2 responses to “How to raise funds like a Nigerian email scammer”

  1. Who knew? There’s something we fundraisers can learn from those Nigerian email scammers. Check out this post at the Neuromarketing blog: Marketing Lessons from Nigerian Scammers. It’s possible the transparently phony messages from these guys is a way of zeroing in a well-defined target audience.

  2. Who knew? There’s something we fundraisers can learn from those Nigerian email scammers. Check out this post at the Neuromarketing blog: Marketing Lessons from Nigerian Scammers. It’s possible the transparently phony messages from these guys is a way of zeroing in a well-defined target audience.

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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.