Fundraising is a “choose your own adventure” story

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? They are kid-fiction adventures told in the second person so it has an immediate feel to the reader

Choseyourown

Every few pages, you come to a choice. It goes something like this:


  • If you decide to explore the dark, ill-smelling cave, turn to page 52.
  • If you decide to run away as fast as you can, turn to page 65.

Then you choose. Your choice leads to a different outcomes of the story. That’s what makes them cool.

Fundraising should be a lot like that.

But way better, because it’s real.

A fundraising message goes something like this:

Something is wrong in the world. It’s wrong in a way that breaks your heart. It’s very clearly wrong, and it urgently needs to be fixed, and the way to fix it is to send a donation.


  • If you decide to send a donation, turn to page 52.
  • If you decide not to send a donation, turn to page 65.

What happens if they give and turn to page 52? They get a warm glow as their brain confirms to them that helping others is the right thing to do. They quickly get a thank you message that specifically tells them what their money is on its way to do. Not much later, they get some indication that their gift really did make a difference!

What happens if they don’t give and turn to page 65? Pretty much nothing. Story over. Of course, every donor always has the right to say no and to end the story right there.

But giving is about action, change, progress, and relationship.

Does your fundraising create clear choices like Choose Your Own Adventure books?


Comments

6 responses to “Fundraising is a “choose your own adventure” story”

  1. I love this! You’re so right.
    I’d never seen these stories, though. But your description reminded me of the dark ages and a text-only computer game we’d play after hours on the organization’s mainframe computer.

  2. I love this! You’re so right.
    I’d never seen these stories, though. But your description reminded me of the dark ages and a text-only computer game we’d play after hours on the organization’s mainframe computer.

  3. Love this! We’ve seen the benefit of this in planned giving fundraising too.
    We’ve created some Legacy-focused ‘social games’ that specifically pull from the ‘choose your adventure’ idea to identify donor passions, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Demo-NgxStelter/357828427644473?sk=app_386774034791600 .
    The explosion of ‘gamefication’ in social media lends itself to this idea to help nonprofits and their audience communicate and share passions in a much different way than previoius mediums allowed us, https://www.facebook.com/TheStelterCompany?sk=app_234658916574732
    Thanks for all of your great work in this space Jeff!
    Nathan

  4. Love this! We’ve seen the benefit of this in planned giving fundraising too.
    We’ve created some Legacy-focused ‘social games’ that specifically pull from the ‘choose your adventure’ idea to identify donor passions, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Demo-NgxStelter/357828427644473?sk=app_386774034791600 .
    The explosion of ‘gamefication’ in social media lends itself to this idea to help nonprofits and their audience communicate and share passions in a much different way than previoius mediums allowed us, https://www.facebook.com/TheStelterCompany?sk=app_234658916574732
    Thanks for all of your great work in this space Jeff!
    Nathan

  5. Love this post Jeff. This is a great way of helping folks who are crafting appeals remember what they’re really doing.
    You don’t even have to take this literally and do this as a game. Every fundraising offer should be a yes/no proposition that is very clear to the donor: “YES, I’ll save a life” vs. “NO, I’ll let someone die.”

  6. Love this post Jeff. This is a great way of helping folks who are crafting appeals remember what they’re really doing.
    You don’t even have to take this literally and do this as a game. Every fundraising offer should be a yes/no proposition that is very clear to the donor: “YES, I’ll save a life” vs. “NO, I’ll let someone die.”

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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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