A few years ago an 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- Eat medicine that’s out of date.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 — and it made me think, “there’s some pretty dumb ways to ask for 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?
2 // Boring them with minutiae.
Donors don’t care about the details. Focus on 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 this is how you lose trust. Once that happens, you’ve lost them. (Hint: This is where planned gifts come in. They make you look legitimate.)
4 // Relying only on a digital campaign.
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!