Charities often struggle to put themselves in a position of power and influence in the marketplace through a strategic cultivation of a clear, remarkable value proposition. The signal to noise ratio therefore continues to increase almost logarithmically each quarter with more organizations speaking to often overlapping target markets who live lives in an overwhelming time-starved culture, with too many choices. [see paradox of choice]. Crabs in a bucket fundraising.

One time tested method to place yourself above the fold is to cultivate your ability to zig when everyone else is zags. Shit, if you want to be an anomoly – then act like one. Remember that saying that everything is good in moderation, especially moderation. When everyone is copying everyone’s best practices, we end up with a marketplace full of sanitized fundraising ad nauseum – appeals that add nausea.

#givingtuesday is a prime example of this. Time starved fundraisers with literal quotas hanging over their heads canabalize their own narratives for short term gain. While #givingtuesday may be a day that many smaller non-profits cannot pass up leverage the social zeitgeist to convert a few donors to give [we could argue that as well], it is usually leveraged by the big dogs  in haste with a missing dash of foresight, to use to go against the grain of contemporary market leaders.

Your narrative itself has the potential to be a long-term equitable asset which you should be remiss to abuse for short term gain 

The Fundraising Authority has a great blog post about this “Why Your Not-for-Profit Should Avoid Giving Tuesday Like the Plague“. Make sure your read the excellent conversations in the comments.

Case in point – Prior to, on, and shortly after 2016’s #givingtuesday, I received around 60 emails asking me, sometimes to the point of begging to be honest, to make a donation. 60 emails from about 50 separate organizations.  What is even more incredible to note is that I was already an active or recently active monthly donor to many of these organizations [for competitive analysis purposes – I can’t support 50 at a time] – it seems that they considered the best use of my limited attention as a donor, knowing my capacity and propensity to give, was to bug me with another ask because “Hey, there’s this thing. ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT. WE REALLY NEED 5 BUCKS!”

All these organizations had the opportunity to be a Cyrano de Bergerac. To serenade me with lymerics of stewardship but 99% instead insisted on the short game of playing the same tired cacaphony-esque type of song:

You can hear the song in your head can’t you, lambchop?

But at 12:49 I find see an email pop up with the following subject line, the magic words donors love to hear:

Because of You, Alex

“So what better opportunity than today, for us at OXFAM, to GIVE our thanks to YOU!”

“Because of YOU…”

A video to thank me?! Wait? They aren’t asking me to donate? Ugh, this feels nice.

OXFAM plays it smart, makes me feel loved,  nurtures the narrative then inserts a soft ask ONLY in the PS. Well played.

They made it about our relationship.
NOT the transaction.
They made the day about ME.
About US. Not my wallet.

May you continue to zig when cultivating the joy of giving.

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