The Need Never Ends


There’s an idea I recommend removing from your fundraising (if you use it):

Telling people that “the need never ends.

I’m sharing this because last week I saw a text-driven billboard from an organization I support. The billboard said:


I have no testing data on this particular idea or phrase. But even though the idea is 100% true, I suggest that it’s not a good idea to highlight to donors.

A core motivator for individual donors is to make a change happen. By saying that the need never ends, this organization is also guiding people’s attention on the fact that their contributions will never solve the problem – that the situation will never change.

Not exactly motivating, eh? Anyone want to make T-shirts with “Donors are Sysiphus”?!?

By focusing their donors’ attention on something that donors cannot change, the organization removes a core motivation to give.

Some gifts will come in, of course. All it takes for some people to donate is to be made aware of what’s happening. But more gifts tend to come in when fundraising gives donors reasons to give today – and “the need never ends” is not a reason to give today.

It’s important to note that there are people who are motivated by the need never ending. For instance, “subject matter experts” who think at the level of the cause yet also know that something still needs to be done today. Executive Directors and Directors of Development who know that they need to raise money every single year.

But 99% of the people driving by the billboard (or on your mailing list) don’t think like that.

So Instead…

For individual donors, use your fundraising to focus their attention onto something they can help change.

Share a need that’s happening right now, or 4 weeks from now.

This usually means narrowing the focus of the fundraising from the Cause or the Big Picture to the personal and relatable. Share a story of a person or thing that needs a little help right now. Or talk about the help that is needed over the next month.

The next time you find your fundraising talking about how big a problem is, I advise you to narrow the focus.

Donors don’t give because a problem is big; they give because a problem is solvable.