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He’s Just Not That Into You

Dear [insert YOUR NONPROFIT name], he’s just not that into you…

Say what?

Let me explain.

I’m not a huge television watcher, but with extra time spent at home (I’m writing this post during the COVID-19 lockdown) I am finding myself slipping back into some of my favorite romcoms to relax and unwind over the weekends. 

Recently, I spent a Saturday evening kicking back with “He’s Just Not That Into You.”  It has your typical A-list romcom lineup of Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck and Justin Long…to name a few. The film follows the lives of several individuals seeking love and acceptance.  As I was watching the film, I found myself getting rather annoyed with one of the main characters, Gigi. Gigi is in this everlasting search for the perfect soulmate. And on this constant search, she is repeatedly striking out. 

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I got so annoyed with her as I was thinking: “Gigi, girl, if you would just take a chill pill and stop acting sooooooooo desperate, you may get a better result!” Every date Gigi went on, she just tried too hard. She was obviously trying too hard and the male counterpart sniffed her out on it every… single… time.  During the course of the film, she befriends Alex who begins to point out scenarios to Gigi in which the person she is dating is “just not that into you,” as he puts it bluntly to her.

Is your nonprofit trying too hard?

Gigi was doing what far too many organizations do. She was so desperate for love she chased any man she could.  She would pretty much settle for anyone… simply so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

Ironically, all her hard work chasing after these guys was the very thing that turned them off to her.

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Unfortunately, we do this with our marketing, fundraising outreach, and appeals far too often.

We try to be all things to all people in our branding.

We try to please everyone. We desperately chase the next donor, sponsor, P2P fundraiser or event attendee, hyper-aggressively seeking the next dollar.

In this desperation, here’s what happens…

  1. We lose our authenticity.
  2. We lose relevance to the suitors who are deeply connected and interested.
  3. We appear as though we lack confidence in who we are and the impact and value that we uniquely bring to the table in our communities.

This inauthenticity is what men often sniffed out in Gigi – and it’s what they’ll sniff out in your marketing messaging and fundraising copy if you’re not careful. Alex repeatedly had to break out the “He’s just not that into you,” line to Gigi because she wasn’t listening.  She persisted in her desperation and in this persistence, she continued to fail at finding love.

So how do we get around this? How do we find the people who really are “into us” and the work of our organization?

How do we entice, attract, and nurture a donor relationship instead of overwhelming the other party?

Ready for the juicy part? Here are my three bullet points on this:

1. Repeat after me: The relationship is not just about you; it’s about them too.

Remember that the people you are putting your brand and message in front of have other things on their minds.

They’ve got a cause, a family, friends, a career – lots of things fighting for their attention.

Your relationship with them should be a rewarding and enriching part of their life.

But if you want to engage and entice them, be respectful of the fact that they’ve got lives that go way beyond their relationship with you.

2. Fish in the right ponds. 

Don’t just go out to the bar and assume any suitor will do.  *Ahem*

Don’t cast a wide net that tries to “be all things to all people”. 

Narrow your focus with these key questions:

  • Who are the types of donors you think could be into you?
  • What types of donors are definitely not into you?
  • What do your donors have in common?
    • An experience?
    • A set of values?
    • A common enemy, fear, or concern?
  • What makes your donors different than every other donor?
  • What are your most attractive features to your donor? How do you make them feel about themselves?

Also, if you have data giving you insight into what motivates someone to give, lean into that.

Start your conversations with what motivates your ideal donors rather than the motivations that interest you and your organization.

3. Don’t show yourself as desperate. 

Too often, nonprofits believe that if their marketing materials look too polished then donors will think their nonprofit is wasting money.

But we have to stop marketing ourselves in a mode of desperation and crisis.

People want to give money to organizations that show up and look like they have their act together.

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It’s not any different than dating. We are attracted to partners and relationships with people who appear to have things together.

Your nonprofit is no different.

The one for you is out there.

So this blog might have some tough love in it, but don’t get discouraged! There are thousands of donors out there who would LOVE to give to and engage with your organization.

What you do is important. Why you do it is even more important.

So what if one donor wasn’t that into you? Doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad organization. Just means that it wasn’t meant to be. The worst thing you could do is go running after them to convince them that they should give to your nonprofit. Don’t waste your time and money on donors who just aren’t into you. Find the ones who’ll be passionate ambassadors of your nonprofit because they love who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

For more honest and transparent advice on Human-to-Human fundraising and marketing, get a hold of Taylor Shanklin here and subscribe to the Firefly Partners’ newsletter below.

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