When good news is bad news

When it comes to fundraising, there are many approaches to the non-profit world. Over my time in ministry I have seen a number of them on display in the different people. These approaches all seem to boil down to two different philosophies.

The first philosophy I call "good news is bad news" and it is built on the worldview of scarcity. It assumes there are limited resources and the best "sales pitch" for those resources will win the prize. And because your organization wants those resources to go to your organization and not another, you need to constantly reminded to give to your organization. You talk about how your organization needs are very large and broad. You show images and graphs that convey how short the organization is to the goal or how many "needs" there are. This philosophy would hesitate to refuse a gift of any type out of fear that the donor would be upset and give future gifts elsewhere. It also hesitates to spend much time celebrating reaching a goal because that time and energy would be taken away from the time and energy that could be used to secure future funding. In this sense, the good news of reaching a goal would be a sort of bad news because then you have to generate a new set of needs. 

The other philosophy is what I call "bad news is good news" and it is built on the worldview of enough. It assumes there are enough resources in this world and regardless of the resources, creativity can multiply those resources in ways previously unimagined. It believes that the "bad news" of not meeting the financial goal can be a source of good news for creativity and imagination. It views other organizations not as competition but as partners and future collaborators. This philosophy shows images and graphs that convey how close the organization is to meeting the goal or opportunity. It does not fear refusing gifts that do not fit into the mission of the organization but in fact will refer the donor to an organization that may benefit more fully from their donation (another reason to build relationships with other organizations). It takes time to celebrate reaching a goal because it assumes that donors desire to achieve goals and that no one wants to give to a sinking ship of needs. It also subscribes to the idea that life attracts life and with each celebration there will be another and another. Even if the goal is not reached (bad news) the organization affirms what was given and then uses creativity and imagination and trust to bridge the gap to the goal (good news).