Help people float stupidly above the ground?

Stupid ads

Suppose you wanted to create a model Stupid Nonprofit Ad. Here’s a checklist:

An abstract metaphor that avoids what the message is really about.
Little evidence that there’s a problem donors can solve.

High production values.

No call to action.

You’ve pretty much created this corker of a TV spot for Oxfam GB.

Here it is:

Or watch it here on YouTube.

What draws fundraisers to abstraction? In this case, the reality is that the organization does specific activities designed to bring about specific changes. But the ad just says “Lift lives.” That’s a metaphor for helping people. And it’s only a metaphor. Not the real thing.

The ad skips over the problem that donors can help solve by giving. Instead, we get glimpses of a solution, plus a fake outcome (people floating a foot off the ground).

Donors may not understand your programs, but they are not stupid. You don’t have to say to them, What we’re going to do is sort of like making people float above the ground — the way you might with a young child who has no life experience to ground his comprehension.

Fundraising is about connecting donors with solvable (and real) problems. Empowering them to make the world specifically better. When you symbolize that change with an abstraction, you’re just blowing smoke.

Thanks to Tobin Aldrich for the tip.

More Stupid Nonprofit Ads.


Comments

2 responses to “Help people float stupidly above the ground?”

  1. I’m inclined to agree – there’s no urgent need which is what the theory says we need.
    But do we know if this is working for Oxfam? It seems to me that unless we know, we can’t really slate it.

  2. I’m inclined to agree – there’s no urgent need which is what the theory says we need.
    But do we know if this is working for Oxfam? It seems to me that unless we know, we can’t really slate it.

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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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