Fundcrushing vs. fundraising: see the difference at work

Fundcrushinglogosmall

Fundcrushing is the practice of using large numbers to motivate donors to give. It doesn’t work very well most of the time. Because it reinforces the common belief that “my gift is too small to make a difference.”

Fundcrushing is common, because it’s so tempting. Big numbers, after all, are newsy. They get our attention. They are important. But they have the insidious (and cumulative, I think) side effect of draining away donors’ hope.

Here are two mailings from the same organization. The first one is fundcrushing. The second, fundraising — and nicely done, at that.

Fundcrushing

Funcrushing1

Fundraising

Fundcrushing2

The first mailing (which was probably sent after the other one) presents a big problem: 52,159 meals left to provide. Chances are, the problem isn’t really as big as it looks. But if you look at it through a donor’s eyes, it’s a staggeringly huge problem, almost too big to comprehend, and containing little emotional information other than a sense of trouble.

The second mailing gets it right. It presents a completely solvable problem: One meal for one hungry child at the cost of only $1.92. Any donor can solve that one! In fact, they can easily do a lot more than that.

So instead of presenting the donor with a problem too big to solve, it gives them a clear and easy opportunity to make a real difference.

Donors understand — with their left brains — that a lot of people are in need, that problems we face are big, and that their gift joins with others’ to make a difference.

But they give with their right brains. So those facts have little weight in their decision.

That’s why fundraising is about solving human-sized problems.

These mailings are taken from Uncle Maynard’s Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge.


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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.