Power of Storytelling | The same old song ain’t ever gonna do you wrong (if it’s the right tune!)

September 24, 2018


In a post from last year, the The Agitator delivered simple, sound advice in their characteristically blunt fashion. So what’s the advice about? Donor communications. Specifically, communicating with continuity and consistency. The Agitator showcases a phenomenal example that’s going 20+ years strong — because it works. Check out the post.

Bluntness is what this sector needs right now. I’m sick and tired of the fundraisers who haven’t got a damn clue about fundraising basics and how to perfect them, or why they should even bother trying. For them, the answers are always found in short-term bright and shiny solutions.

You see it in Facebook groups all the time. With many younger fundraisers having collectively arrived at a place I like to call “the fundraising culture of me, myself, and I.”

I don’t want to get a thank you letter. They’re a waste of time and paper.

Does anyone read direct mail anymore? We’re an environmental organization, and our board doesn’t think that mail reflects well on us.

We’re dropping all our print and going digital. It’s free!

Guess what? You’re not marketing to yourself. I implore you to snap out of your me-centric space and grab hold onto something real and lasting. It’s time to embrace donor-centricity, because it’s founded on what works, it’s founded on common sense, and it won’t ever steer you wrong. It’s a main component of long-term success.

What’s more, you don’t need to be constantly reinventing the wheel. What resonates with your donors? Like those at The Agitator (and yours truly) point out, you need to understand that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every single year, and that trying to do so is pointless. Instead, return to basics.

And while you’re at it, check this out, too: a commercial that’s been running for 14 years and counting.

About this commercial, The Boston Globe notes:

It has been airing nationally every spring and summer for 14 years. It has been seen many, many millions of times — a stunning 800 million times just since 2012, when the website iSpot.tv began tracking these things. And it’s actually been airing since 2005.

SunSetter and a succession of ad firms have spent the better part of a decade — and a considerable amount of money — trying to create a sleeker, more modern commercial that sells even more awnings. And they have failed. Every. Time.

The thing about direct response commercials is that it’s fairly easy to know whether they’re working. Either the phone rings, or it doesn’t; either the clicks pile up on your website, or they don’t. And for SunSetter, a 20-year-old operation in a nondescript industrial building near the head of the Malden River, this particular commercial has kept the phones ringing.

“It’s our workhorse,” said Ray Morlock, SunSetter’s general manager.

What works with your donors?

Fundraising without relationships, in this crazy, competitive world? Forget about it. Selling awnings in this crazy, competitive world without knowing your audience? Same answer.

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