The 90/10 solution for successful fundraising

Is your fundraising messaging all about how successful your organization is at solving the problems it exists to solve?

If so, you are not raising what you could raise.

Here’s a very useful discussion of this at the Veritus Group Blog: Why Talking About the Problem Is So Difficult.

Here’s the main point:

When you are wanting to secure the gift – when you are doing the ask – that is when you talk about the problem in human and emotional terms … The ask is mostly about the devastating problem you are presenting to the donor. And then asking them to join you (the organization) in doing something about it.

The post gives a helpful framework for asking. Your message when asking should be 90% about the problem and 10% about your previous solutions. That 10% should not be at the beginning of end, but sandwiched in the middle.

Only after a donor has given do you turn that around. In stewardship communications, you flip the formula: 90% about how the donor’s giving is making a difference, 10% about the next problem to solve.

That’s the formula for successful and sustainable fundraising.


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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.