I don’t have Netflix. Or Hulu. Not Prime. Or Peacock. No Apple TV. Or…

Before that paragraph goes on for twenty minutes, let’s keep it simple: I don’t pay for any streaming services. I also don’t have cable.

After you pick up your jaw from the floor and wonder if I’m the only person on Earth living this way, let me assure you there’s at least one more person like me. But not many more.

During my recent summer travels, I stayed with a friend who had basic cable. That of course meant being able to watch tons of episodes of one of my fav shows, Law & Order.

It also meant watching an endless stream of commercials. Which I actually enjoy because I like to see how companies and brands are marketing themselves. What creative and fresh ideas they’ve come up with to sell their product to the viewing public.

Most of you already know (because you have a TV) that many of the commercials are trash. They stink.

But there was one from Edward Jones I saw often that intrigued me and in fact, caused me to write this post. Here ya go:

Edward Jones 2021 Commercial: We Got This from Edward Jones on Vimeo.

Your Mission

As a nonprofit, you tell supporters that your mission is to cure cancer. End hunger in your county. Provide health care for those who can’t afford it.

You’ve targeted a problem in your community which you want to fix and solve. Your nonprofit has set up programs to deal with the issue. You work with local community members to bring much needed services to populations who are left behind.

Like in the commercial above, you tell everyone “we got this.”

However, when a potential donor feels that a problem is too large to solve, that their donation won’t make a difference, they stop giving. That’s not always the donor’s fault: Some of that can be attributed to how nonprofits frame the problem.

When you say there are 50,000 children living in poverty, that number can be overwhelming for some supporters. “What difference could my $25 donation possibly make?” they’ll ask themselves.

The problem is too big!

This is one of the reasons why it’s best to use the story of one: Share the story of just one person in your fundraising appeals. Donors will feel they can help that one person. Their donation makes a difference. They can address that issue.

As fundraising expert Beth Ann Locke says: “Don’t put any distance between the donor and the beneficiary.”

This is one of the ways to encourage people to donate.

But lemme ask you something else: Is there an endgame?

Have you told your audience what their community would look like if X was eradicated? How their lives would be better if problem X didn’t exist? Have you walked them thru what life would be like if their support helped X go away?

horse at the finish line at Churchill Downs

I got to visit Churchill Downs this summer. Sat near the finish line

Starting From The End

This is why the commercial from Edward Jones really spoke to me: I saw the endgame FIRST, how they got there LAST.

The framing of the problem started with the solution. What the brighter future will look like.

And that kind of messaging resonates with people: The light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t look so far away. It appears attainable. It CAN be done!

Yes, it might take time and a lot of hard work. But the happy ending? Doable.

What does that mean for your nonprofit?

I want to challenge you to think about the issue you advocate for in different terms: What would it mean if your nonprofit was no longer needed? What if we could solve problem X?

Then answer these questions: How would your community look different? How would people’s lives be transformed?

We’re so stuck in the day to day that it’s hard to even think about tomorrow, let alone a few years down the road.

I think it’s time organizations did exactly that: Show supporters what the finish line looks like and then work our way backwards. Show the timeline of how we’ll get there together. Give people hope that a brighter future CAN exist.

Because until now, all your audience hears from you is there’s a problem that needs to be solved- in the here and now.

Why not share with them the roadmap to a better future?

50% Success Is Still Success

I’m well aware some problems may never go away. One of my clients is a national organization that provides bras and feminine hygiene products to homeless girls and women.

Will homelessness in America one day cease to exist? Sadly, no. Anyone claiming that would be selling a lie in my opinion.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t reduce it greatly!

What would America look like if 50% of homeless people had a home? How many women- victims of domestic abuse- would benefit from permanent housing and jobs where they could live safely and provide for their children?

How would your local community benefit from that? What about the local economy? Now think nationally and you see where I’m going.

Some problems can be fully eradicated. Others will linger for a very long time.

But even then, nonprofits have to think in bigger terms. If X percent goes away, how are lives improved? And use that as part of their fundraising and marketing.

Because if the problem is too big to solve, donors have no reason to give.

Start with the end and work your way back. Provide the tomorrow picture so today looks a lot brighter.

P.S. Here’s another Edward Jones commercial that caught my eye. Again, same idea.

As you gear up for your big year-end campaign and you also start planning 2023, it’s time to upgrade your fundraising and marketing. Build more relationships. Boost retention. Raise more money. Experience growth.

Let me help you get there! My services are aimed at helping your organization serve more people and have more impact in your community. Contact me today so you can propel your organization forward and crush your goals.