Dumb Ways To Seek Donations

A funny picture of a shocked man holding two smoking electrical cables, for a post called Dumb Ways to Seek Donations.

Are you relying on dumb ways to seek donations? A few years ago, a darkly humorous Australian public service ad to promote railway safety went viral. Called “Dumb Ways to Die,” the campaign was set to a catchy song with lyrics including,

  • Set fire to your hair.
  • Poke a stick at a grizzly bear.
  • Eat medicine that’s out of date.
  • Use your private parts as Piranha bait.

I have to admit, it was catchy enough (definitely not vanilla marketing!) to get my toes tapping — and it made me think, “there’s some pretty dumb ways to ask for donations, too.”

And so, without further ado, I present,

Dumb Ways to Seek Donations:

1) Approaching a prospect for an ask without research.

Your chances of turning a prospect into a donor increase exponentially when you have a little background info. What causes are they passionate about? Do they have kids? Did they play a sport in school? Who are their friends? Political affiliation? Ask questions. Use Google. Check out LinkedIn. Do your research first!

2 ) Boring them with minutiae.

Trust me, donors don’t care about the little details. Try explaining the inner workings of a Charitable Lead Trust and you run the risk of putting your prospect to sleep. And that’s truly one of the dumb ways to seek donations. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Focus on the benefits — first to the donor, and then to your nonprofit.

3) Shouting “We need money” every four months.

People get tired of needy people and needy organizations. It makes them think you don’t know how to manage your budget — and that is how you lose trust. Once you’ve lost trust, you’ve lost the prospect. (Hint: This is where planned gifts come in. They make you look legitimate.)

4)  Relying only on a digital campaign.

We’re inundated with emails and ads. No one reads all the email in their inbox. If you want to cut through the noise, be sure to employ healthy print marketing.

I read that the Dumb Ways to Die characters were so popular they were featured in a marketing campaign for insurance. The tag line was, “the dumbest way to die is without life insurance.” I’d like to add my own take:

How about you? What are your favorite dumb ways to give? Comment below or send me an email!

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