How the worst Star Wars ever is like weak fundraising

So you pay for your parking, tickets, and popcorn to see the latest Star Wars movie. You settle in, the music starts blaring and the standard “crawl” floats across the giant screen.

And this is what it says (don’t worry, it’s less than a minute, and there’s no sound):

(Or see it here on YouTube.)

If you’re like most people, you’d be on your way out of the theater before you even got to the end of the crawl.

Why?

Because nobody is interested in a movie that has the premise, Everything is pretty much okay.

(Admittedly, some of the movies in the Star Wars franchise were basically this boring.)

Stories — movies, books, anything — are about conflict. A richly imagined, special-effects bonanza that’s just about a low-conflict “this is the way things are” is completely uninteresting.

The sad thing is, a lot of fundraising is just like that! It’s a picture of the excellent outcomes of the organization. Things are pretty much okay, and they’re hoping you’ll join the bandwagon of okayness.

That barely works. (Some donors respond to that, but they’re mainly the people who have heard the real story somewhere else.)

If you want to raise money from donors, you need to give them:

  • Drama
  • Conflict
  • High stakes
  • Problems that urgently need solutions
  • Big risks — with great rewards

And the beautiful thing about fundraising is it’s not fiction. The donor can enter the story by donating. The becomes one of the good guys, the heroes, and changes the outcome. Even the best Star Wars can’t do that!

If you don’t offer you donors the stuff that makes great movies great, you aren’t really fundraising.


Comments

2 responses to “How the worst Star Wars ever is like weak fundraising”

  1. Had to comment, because I saw so many boring fundraising letters over the past month that I just wanted to cry. Agree in spades: Show your donors the way to become the heroes they desperately WANT to be. Why would they just want to be your boring sidekick?
    Thanks for always speaking truth and common sense Jeff!

  2. Had to comment, because I saw so many boring fundraising letters over the past month that I just wanted to cry. Agree in spades: Show your donors the way to become the heroes they desperately WANT to be. Why would they just want to be your boring sidekick?
    Thanks for always speaking truth and common sense Jeff!

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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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