Are you giving donors reason to pause in your fundraising?

Remember grocery shopping? I do, vaguely.

You’re at the grocery store, and you grab a box of something. It looks different: They’ve redesigned the package. Invariably, when there’s new package design, it includes a starburst that says something like: New package, same great flavor!

I don’t know about you, but that “same great flavor” claim always gives me pause. I wonder if they’ve cheapened the product in some way that they hope we won’t notice, maybe even hoping to distract us with the new package design.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what they want us to think. But we do (at least, I do) when they bring it up by interrupting the purchase with their comment about their new packaging and same old contents.

I think I understand their dilemma. That redesign was a big deal for them. It took a lot of work and a long time. They’re pretty sure it’s the right move …

… but they wonder: what if we got it wrong? What if it confuses people, makes people mad, kills sales?

So they hedge their bets by telling us not to worry about the new design.

And now, if we weren’t already, we buyers are thinking about the new design. They’d rather we focus on the product inside — how delicious, healthy, and wonderful it is. But we’re thinking about the new package. Because they pointed it out.

Nonprofits do this too. Look at our new logo! We’ve rebranded! We re-designed the website! Meet our new vice president!

New package, same great flavor!

Those changes are a big deal for you. You can hardly help but want to let donors know they don’t need to worry about it. Or maybe you just want to trumpet this amazing change to make sure everyone gets the news.

Think twice before you do it.

At best, your new thing is noise to most donors. At worst, it’s something to worry about.

There may be subgroups of donors who really do care and should be told what’s happening. Like board members. But few others will notice, and fewer will care.

It’s not easy to step out of your own frame of reference. Those important new things really are big deal in your world. Not so much elsewhere.

Effective fundraising is about what donors can do to help make the world a better place. Really, that’s pretty much it. Keep that the obsessive focus of your fundraising, and you’ll raise 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 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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