My friend Roy Williams of Wizard of Ads fame talks a lot about how stupid it is to bore people. Roy’s a big-time advertising and marketing guy whose clients are the some of the retail and service industry giants. If you’re not receiving his weekly email, you are missing out on deep encouragement, thoughtful inspiration and a big ole bucket full of non-boring. Roy’s work for his clients is uniquely non-boring and growth producing.
Roy says boring is easy to ignore. Fascinating is impossible to ignore.
Many nonprofits create stupefyingly boring fundraising. Mind-numbing. Depressingly boring fundraising. Which means it is easy to ignore.
The truth is it’s not that it’s boring for the nonprofits or ministries. They love it. It’s boring for the donor.
Of course no one sets out to writing boring fundraising messages. We fool ourselves into thinking what we find interesting, donors will love, too. Or we get forced into it by our boss or the board or someone who “knows” what we should be doing.
So what do donors find boring and therefore easy to ignore?
Your Mission Statement
Your Budget woes
Need for their help
Your perfectly written thesis statement
Generally, those kind of org-centric messages.
Boring is when you write about yourself, your organization, your goals… We all know that.
Yet, there are times you really have to talk to donors about some of those boring things. That’s the reality, right?
So how do you turn a boring topic into something engaging and interesting for a donor?
First, don’t do it. But when you have to, don’t settle for the easy way. Whip out this formula.
Boring Topic + The Donor X A Story = Engaging Fundraising
Here’s how it works. You need to talk budget for some inexplicable reason–like your boss or your board is worried or tells you that you have to. It’s reality we’ve all dealt with at some point.
Get your boring topic defined as simply and clearly as possible. Then answer the question: Why would the donor care?
Don’t take your first answer or your second. Keep driving to get to a good, solid “why it matters to the donor.”
The donor might be disappointed that you didn’t make payroll or missed your budget projections. But that’s not a solid, relationship-building, check-writing kind of motivation for a donor.
So why would it matter to the donor? Will your services be less (realistically)? Will you not be able to do what you’ve been doing? Would things that matter to the donor change? You have to be careful with this. You never, ever want to be like that mattress store down the street that’s always going out of business. But if you have a problem, you have to be able to articulate the reality.
Then you add a story to accelerate the impact. What does that actually look like? Who does that look like? Exactly who won’t be served or reached or helped? What difference does that make? (Pro Tip: Donoricity opportunity for a “Consequence” statement.)
That makes for a much less boring fundraising message.
What about a fundraising goal? You’re raising $53 bazillion for your new playground (or whatever). Why does that matter? You already know that big numbers and statistics are trickier to use than many people realize.
But here you go.
$53 bazillion for your playground + Why the Donor Should Care X A Story of 10-year-old Billy who’s never played on a real-live grass playground = An engaging, interesting fundraising message.
You’ll always be happier with how non-boring topics work as fundraising messages, but in those real-world moments where you’re stuck with a boring message, pump it up with the formula.
So what do you think? I’d love to know. Here’s how that works: just email me at sthomas AT wizardofads DOT com. That’ll reach me.
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