The amazing facts con — how it snares fundraisers

Have you sat through a presentation from this guy?

He says we need to move a big chunk of budget away from direct mail or some other boring channel and into mobile payment systems.

Why? Because two-thirds of Kenyans now use mobile phones to pay for pretty much everything they buy. And a quarter of Kenya’s gross national product flows through mobile phones. Wow!

Or he tells the inspiring story of a blogger who assembled an audience of more than a million readers and now uses his platform to sell all kinds of books, videos, and other high-margin stuff. Woohoo. We should do that too.

Have you noticed the trick this guy plays?

He tells you an amazing fact. It’s really amazing, but it has no connection to your situation. Then he implies a conclusion that would be reasonable if the amazing fact had anything to do with you. But it doesn’t.

And, no surprise, if he manages to pull you in with the trick, he stands to profit.

It’s a special type of deception, designed specifically to get you to make a decision in his favor. (Sometimes he has also managed to deceive himself with the trick.) It works in times like these, when technology changes quickly, and huge successes just seem to pop out of nowhere. Wouldn’t it be great to have one of those happen to you?

But the Amazing Thing rarely happens. It comes from a combination of hard work (much harder than it looks) and dumb luck.

Don’t be fooled. When someone tells you amazing but irrelevant facts, make sure you don’t follow him down that garden path.


Comments

2 responses to “The amazing facts con — how it snares fundraisers”

  1. Right on the money Jeff! As someone once said, “To thine own self be true.” 😉

  2. Right on the money Jeff! As someone once said, “To thine own self be true.” 😉

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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.