specific fundraising success

Specifics improve fundraising. It’s that simple. Telling your donors and prospective donors exactly what you do and exactly what will happen if they give you a gift will lift your income. The more specific you are, the better.

In presentations, I often use this PowerPoint slide to provoke the discussion. Usually, we have a fun (at least fun for me) conversation centered in these questions:
$=X

“What is ‘X’?”
“If I give a dollar, what happens?”
“What does my gift ‘buy’?”

Usually where the discussion starts isn’t where the discussion ends. It’s fun to watch as the X comes into focus for the group. That focus, that specific, is vital to great fundraising. Failing to focus on the X will cause your fundraising to flounder.

Seth Godin recently flipped this around by discussing the Danger of Vague Claims. Seth points out that a vague, not-relevant truth isn’t the way to begin building a relationship. Unfortunately for many nonprofits, vague is the order of the day.

Talking to your donors about “helping women caught up in domestic violence” doesn’t connect with a donor’s heart and mind as quickly as stating that “$25 will give a battered woman a warm, safe place to sleep peacefully for a night.” Specifics carry far more emotional weight and allow your donor to imagine specifically what their gift is doing.

The Made to Stick guys say being concrete and specific is one of the key elements to helping people remember — what they might call “sticky” communication. In fact, if you you aren’t sure about “sticky” or don’t know about “Made to Stick” go find out now. Click here for the website. Or run to your library or go to Amazon, grab their book and get busy reading about how to communicate to your donors in ways that will change lives.

So what do you think? Does concrete and specific trump vague? How are you using specifics in your communications to your donors?


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

4 thoughts on “specific fundraising success”

  1. Steve,
    To me this is THE best concept you brought to our gig at OTM. The clearer any of us get (as individuals or groups) on the X the better.
    Thank you both for your help on getting this clearer for us.
    J

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