Think about it … we’d all rather hang around positive — versus negative — people.

So why wouldn’t that apply to a nonprofit that’s looking to establish a donor relationship with you or me? Why would you expect a continuing barrage of negative, downer messages to make a donor look forward to your ‘visits’?!

That’s the message delivered by this brief article — What Works Best? Negative or Positive Frame — from ConnectedNonprofit.

There’s an important distinction to be made between getting attention versus ongoing relationship building.

Threat, urgency and danger might succeed best (i.e., serve as the best framing) to capture attention and motivate initial response. Arguably, it takes a strong shock to break through all the other distractions your prospect faces (as well as underlying apathy).

But once you’ve won their attention, consider administering some pleasure to your donor.The pleasure of seeing their contributions make a difference, deliver results, bring joy … and the satisfaction of being part of a community of like-minded people.

Tom Belford

P.S. There’s a huge academic literature on ‘framing’, which involves heaps more than simply negative versus positive. And perhaps the most celebrated expert on the subject, certainly as it applies to framing public/political debate is George Lakoff. For a fascinating account of framing issues in the political arena, check out this account from the NY Times Magazine back in 2005, The Framing Wars. Consider the angst of Democrats and progressives after being defeated in the 2004 election … all were asking: Why isn’t our message working?



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