Part I was about our belief that nonprofits are called to share the whole situation – the good news caused by their work and the bad news that causes their work to be needed.
But that’s a complex story. And do you think that today’s individual donors – who have shorter attention spans and are bombarded by more messages and information than any time in human history – are going to read and think about your complex story?
No. At least not many.
So here’s the fundraising maxim we live by:
When you only have a few moments of a person’s attention, focus your message on either the good news or the bad news.
Here’s how this works in practice:
- You put the “bad news” in your appeals and e-appeals. These are your Asks.
- You put the good news in your Thanks. These are your Thank You/Receipt letters and email receipts.
- You put more good news in your Reports. These are your Newsletters.
This provides a series of messages that are easy to understand by individual donors who are moving fast. This communicates both the good news and the bad news about what’s going on, rather than hiding the news in communication pieces that attempt to tell the whole story every time.
It will also raise you more money, if the results of our customers are any indication.
And when you have more time with a donor – say at an event, or a coffee with a donor, or a grant application – then you can tell the whole complex story, sharing both the good news and the need for your work.
But in the meantime, focus each message to individual donors on either good news or bad news. By narrowing the focus, more of your message will make it through to donors, and to the world.