How small solutions can solve big problems in fundraising

One of the strangest surprises about fundraising is this: When you go to donors with incontrovertible proof that the problem you want them to help solve is really, really big … you chase away donors.

Donors don’t want to solve problems because the problems are big. The want to solve them because they are solvable.

And, if you think about it, big and solvable are pretty much opposite features.

That’s the important point of The Surprising Way to Raise Money for Big Problems at the Guidestar Blog:

… if you want to change the world … don’t present a challenge that no reasonable person could ever expect to solve. Instead, offer manageable steps for your supporters. Look at things from the donor’s point of view and show them how they can make a difference. Instead of saying that you need $10,000 a day to keep the doors open for a shelter for the homeless, you could tell people that a $20 contribution will put a roof over someone’s head for a week.

Telling stories instead of bowling them over with statistics is not an easy change. Nor is scaling back the problems you describe to human size. But it makes the difference between weak and strong fundraising results.

(For some examples of the difference between big-problem fundraising, and solvable-problem fundraising, see Fundcrushing Page.)


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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.