Too much fundraising contains the self-defeating sub-message: Don't bother to give. The problem's too big to solve.
Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog recently reported on a study in Psychological Science that looked at this problem in environmental fundraising: Scaring the wits out of people won't save the planet:
... the dire, apocalyptic visions painted by many in the environmental field are undermining belief in global warming and discouraging action.
Environmental fundraising isn't alone in making this fundamental error that drives away donors.
Disease charities that major in how huge their disease is, like the like number of diagnoses per day, are telling donors we simply can't make any headway.
World poverty and hunger charities using the astounding numbers of hunger-related deaths that happen every day, or similar facts, are telling donors their gift is too small to make a difference.
Domestic poverty charities focus on the discouragingly high incidence of hunger and homelessness here at home are also minimizing their donors' part.
People don't give to help solve problems because the problems are huge. They give because the problems are solvable.
You can download the study here (PDF).