The bigger the problem, the less real it seems

It’s easy to get focused on the size of a problem. Thousands of people are homeless in our community. Hundreds of acres of forest are destroyed every day. Millions of innocent animals are euthanized every year. 24,000 children die from hunger every day.

These things seem to add scope and urgency to our causes.

Thing is, they don’t. They make our causes seem less real to most donors.

Seth Godin points this out at More than ten is too many:

Time and again, we’re unable to put more urgency or more value on choices that have more impact. We don’t donate ten times as much to a charity that’s serving 10 times (or even 100 times) more people. We don’t prioritize our interest or our urgency based on scale, we do it based on noise.

This is why saying 24,000 children die from hunger every day is bad fundraising. One child dying from hunger is far more tragic to the human mind than is 24,000 every day.

People respond to numbers they can grasp. Not huge numbers.

(See Fundcrushing for more on this topic.)


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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.

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