Generalities are okay in fundraising. But that’s the problem – they’re just okay. They don’t work as well as specifics to get donors inspired and motivated to give.
Specifics – that’s the point in this post at Future Fundraising Now. In it, there’s a comparison between two calls to action. One is a generality: let’s end poverty. The other is specific: help pull a refugee to safety.
Chances are that the second one, the specific one, will do a lot better to engage donors and win their support. First of all, ending poverty seems to donors to be too big of a problem to solve. Any donor knows that his or her gift won’t stop poverty.
Second, it’s simply human nature to respond to specifics. Specifics sell, and the lesson goes all the way back to 1923, when legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins wrote: “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck.” It was one of his immutable truths of marketing, and it’s as relevant as ever in fundraising.
It’s tempting to reach for generalities like “make a difference,” “save the world,” “change the world,” “Stand with us,” “give hope,” or “be a hero” when we’re thinking through an appeal. In some cases, generalities like these are okay in a conversational sense to relate to donors, but generalities will never be as effective as specifics when we’re developing a fundraising offer.
Especially for the offer, specifics can increase the credibility of the message, letting donors conjure up a more vivid mental image of the impact they can have when they give.
As Hopkins wrote: “People recognize a certain license in selling talk as they do poetry.” You won’t ruin your case for giving if a few generalities creep into the letter copy, but when it comes to the offer and the moment of truth – actually giving a gift – focus relentlessly on the specifics to get the best response from your fundraising.