The One Thing Donors Want to Hear About Your Non-Profit

Cards on a table that read "Less is more"

In the United States, non-profit marketing can be a mercilessly competitive arena. Based on some estimates, there are up to 3,000 charitable organizations started every day, many of which don’t succeed beyond a couple of years. Donor solicitation is ubiquitous, whether in person, direct mail, telemarketing, or through a bevy of digital mediums. “Giving Units” are bombarded with blanket and targeted asks, and that’s on top of the 10,000+ ad exposures they receive daily from for-profit companies.

The Tendency To Say Too Much

In the midst of such fierce competition and noise, it’s easy to see why many non-profits respond by trying to say more.  We have a tendency to equate “more” with “louder” and “louder” with “effective.”  As a result, we create vision statements that resemble small novels and mission statements that do everything.  We share overwhelming statistics of great need and match them with equally abstract numbers about our response. We try to tell all of our stories in all of their deserved nuance. We think the donor wants to hear everything about organizations that do everything.

We have a tendency to equate “louder” with “effective.”

The Need for Clarity

What we don’t realize is that, in a jumbled field full of noise, donors only want to hear one thing—clarity.

They want the clarity of a simple vision that can inspire.

They want the clarity of a focused mission they can easily remember.

They want the clarity of a simple story that embodies the emotion of the recipients and volunteers alike and demonstrates the tangible impact of your work.

A wise client of ours once told me that simplicity is always on the other side of complexity. We start with the complex story we want to tell and then winnow until we can’t say it any more simply and clearly.  In a country where 1.5 million non-profits are competing for your donors, the clear message will always stand out.

Give it a try, and you’ll see.