Fundraising is about 2 things: Problem and solution

There are two common types of weak fundraising that are very different from each other:

  • All-problem fundraising. Paints a picture of massive, seemingly unsolvable problems, giving the size, urgency, and terribleness of the problem as a reason donors should give.
  • All-solution fundraising. Paints a picture of things going great, giving the happy status-quo as a reason donors should give.

While on the surface these approaches are radically different, they share the same fundamental problem: They only tell half of the story the donor needs to hear.

Because effective fundraising is about a problem and a solution. Both.

Here’s a great look at that from the Better Fundraising Blog, telling us how we need to Embed the Problem in the Solution.

The post starts with an interesting test result. These two similar phrases went head to head:

  • Your gift today will provide clean water for a family.
  • Your gift today will provide clean, disease-free water for a family.

Which one got better results? The second one did. Because the first one is only the solution. The second one includes the problem and the solution.

The problem-only version would be something like:

  • Millions of families are suffering with unsafe, disease-filled water. Rush your gift today.

It’s slightly more effective than solution-only fundraising. But not much.

Do you want to raise more money? Two steps:

  1. Show your donor that there’s a problem
  2. Show that she can help solve that problem.


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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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