I was sitting in a fundraising event grinding my teeth yet again. Why do well-intentioned people with wonderful hearts and causes insist on telling potential donors all about their organization, usually complete with origin story, organizational structure, and incomprehensible names and acronyms?
Few donors care how your organization got started or how your work gets done. And by insisting on telling them, you can lose them before you get to talk about the things they really do care about.
What do donors want to know? Two things:
1. Can I trust you? Do people or organizations I already trust vouch for you? Have you got a track record that suggests you can do what you say you’re going to do?
2. Can you offer me a chance to be involved in something that’s meaningful to me?
One of the best scholars in the country on framing and messaging, Frank Gilliam, now Dean of UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, likes to call people “cognitive misers.” People expend as little mental energy as possible to figure out what they need to know to act. So for those of us who want to change the world, pitch perfect means having the discipline not to wear out donors with irrelevant information.