One of my guilty pleasures is reading and watching science fiction. I’ve loved tales of rockets, space travel and aliens since I could read. That’s my Dad’s fault. His truck always had a paperback tucked into the bag of tools behind the seat. 90% of the time it was science fiction.
One central trope in science fiction is that humanity is not the only intelligent life in the universe. Yep. Aliens.
Often, there’s that wonderful moment where the science/technology character (or the explorer/adventurer character) turns to the leader/captain character and says something like:
“I guess that settles it, we’re not alone in the universe.”
You know the scene, the “science/technology” character has a computer monitor or holographic-thingie with green lights reflecting off their glasses as they speak. With just the right amount of awe, fear and shock, they say, “We are not alone.”
And that’s the big lesson from science fiction for fundraising.
“You are not alone.”
You are not alone in the donors’ mind.
You are not alone in the donors’ heart.
You are not alone in the donors’ inbox.
You are not alone in the donors’ mailbox.
You are not alone in the donors’ “favorites.”
You are not alone in the donors’ estate plans.
You know that.
It’s easy to not act on it.
Donors give to other organizations.
Your best donors give to many organizations.
We’ve all had that moment where a donor reveals all the organizations they are giving to. It’s a sobering moment. Gulp.
And that doesn’t even factor in all solicitations for donations from organizations they haven’t given to. . . yet.
Fundraising messages come at them every day, every hour.
Just as that Sci-fi character that has discovered alien life has to ask, you have to ask: “What do we do?”
Here you go:
1. Focus your message on the donor. If you make your ask about what you’re doing, what you’re dreaming or what you need you will eventually lose that donor. Because someone else will connect using donor-focused language and donors resonate, respond. . . and give when they are the focus of fundraising.
2. Protect yourself with frequency. It’s tempting to save money by reducing the number of messages you send a year. After all, not every donor gives to every impact. Why spend money on any fundraising that doesn’t produce the optimum ROI? And that’s how bad stuff happens. The other guys (trying to not stretch the metaphor too far here but think “aliens”) won’t reduce their frequency just because you do. They’re going to be in front of your best donors with attractive and interesting messaging. If you disappear from their awareness, you will die.
3. Demonstrate your relationship with the donor. Donors give when they are known, understood and appreciated. You have to obsess over data hygiene. Names, addresses, giving history, interests. Miss this and fail because someone else is getting it right. And those guys who do believe in great data hygiene will demonstrate in the most basic way that they know the donor.
Oh, there’s one more trope that applies. In many Sci-fi plots, there’s an authority figure who doesn’t believe. They aren’t sure. Or they’re sure there’s another logical explanation.
“Aliens? Poppycock.” They say.
They’re usually the stuffy unlikeable character so it’s satisfying when they get eaten, disintegrated or assimilated. In your non-Sci-fi, real life: don’t listen to anyone who can’t understand the very real competition for your donor’s attention.
You don’t want to get eaten!
What do you think? I’d love know if you love Sci-fi like I do. And of course, tell me about your fundraising. Let me know what you think. Here’s how that works: just email me at sthomas AT wizardofads DOT com. That’ll reach me.
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I’m grateful for you.