Yesterday’s Successes, Today’s Truths, Tomorrow’s Hopeful Futures

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

I just noticed that almost all of the fundraising our team helped create last year can be divided into three groups:

  • Yesterday’s Success.  These are stories of people who have already been helped, and of things the organization has already accomplished. 
  • Today’s Uncomfortable Truth.  These are stories of what’s happening today, right now, that causes the work of the organization to be needed.
  • Tomorrow’s Hopeful Future.  These are stories of what will happen if a donor gives a gift.  For instance, “If you give a gift today, 1 square meter of wetland will be preserved from development” is a story about the positive future that will be created if a donor gives a gift.

Organizational insiders tend to think that sharing Yesterday’s Successes will motivate donors to give today.  And it will, to a limited extent.

But consistently telling donors about things that happened yesterday means you’re not telling donors what’s happening today.  And in our experience, the best way to motivate donors to give today is to talk about what’s happening today

The fundraising programs that we see succeed wildly are programs that intentionally share what happened yesterday, and what’s happening today, and what could happen tomorrow with the donor’s support.

When you give your donors the full picture, they’re more likely to give you their full support.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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