Big mistake: Everybody should know about us!

Maybe you should have bought an ad during the Super Bowl. Then everybody would know about your organization.

Not a good idea. Even if you could somehow afford it.

“Everybody” doesn’t care. “Everybody” won’t respond, ever.

Only some people care about your cause. Even fewer will ever donate. Everyone else — the large majority — are not worth what it would cost to reach them.

I know this may be obvious, but many fundraisers (and commercial marketers) are sadly prone to believe in reaching everyone. It’s the poison candy that ad agencies offer, trying to make massive TV-spot buys or other huge and inappropriate media expenditures.

No matter how important and exciting your mission is, it’s not of interest to everyone. Frankly, it’s only of interest to a small slice of everyone — no doubt a smaller slice than you think it should be.

The ad world talks about “impressions.” They like to throw around huge numbers of impressions. But the numbers mean next to nothing: it’s the number of people (sometimes households) that have access to a message. Not actually saw it, or paid attention to it, or were motivated to act by it: could have seen it. Impressions do you no good whatsoever.

An impression is the first step on a long, many-branched road that might lead to a donation.

Don’t take candy from strangers, and don’t try to reach “everybody.”

Find your audience and work to motivate them to action. That’s not as glamorous as a Super Bowl TV spot, but it gets the job done.


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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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