Fundraisers: What triggers action?

Ever spend a sleepless night bombarded with loud infomercials intent on compelling you to buy some invaluable product you didn’t know you needed RIGHT NOW? Fundraisers can learn a lot from these aggravating diatribes.

First notice how the appeal is structured:

  • State the problem:  “Tired of your leaky old basement?”
  • State the solution:  “Mr. Fogger can turn your basement into… just ten minutes.”
  • State the call to action:  “Call in the next ten minutes to get this special price.”

And notice how quickly the ad gets to the point---with very few extraneous words.

Need to Act The viewer has been set up for urgency with the statement of the problem:  you’re tired of thinking about your basement, you’ve been dealing ineffectively with a leaky old basement.

Need to Act Now is created by offering a special price.  Or buy one, get two—give to a friend.  This offer moves you from thinking about whether you can afford to spend the dollar amount to thinking about the good feeling when you give the second one to a friend or relative.

Visualize the Result of Acting Now. By describing and showing the better tomorrow taking action can create, the seller quiets your defenses (“this can’t be true,”  “I’ve seen this before”) and moves you into picturing the world if you will only stand up and participate.

Spell out the Action Step. The premise of infomercials is that the customer can act immediately. (Stop the first impulse to “think about it later.”) One price, a quick answer to your question “How much?”  The phone number (or website) is prominent and repeated as the diatribe closes.

What can a fundraiser learn from this?

Well, while it might not be the way you do all your fund-raising, this urgent focus on the problem may be an effective way to attract new givers.  It’s high intensity, minimal copy, and quick to show results.  (It’s the abused dog rescue approach.)

Helping the viewer imagine the positive end result gives a great boost; especially when it’s immediately following the negative of the opening problem.  It’s a natural for us to show the world our mission can create.

Making clear the Call to Action, and emphasizing the “Now,” is a great spur to getting the would-be donor to take the first step.  A matching gift opportunity (time-limited) is one of a fundraiser’s great strategies to create urgency.

Whenever someone’s marketing catches your attention, take advantage and see how that strategy can apply in your efforts.

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