Monday, May 25, 2009

Successful fundraisers have discovered the Law of Completion

Apply the Law of Completion--Day 8
Successful fundraisers tap into a donor's micro-emotional level
from 30 Days to Successful Fundraising
by Dr. Stephen L. Goldstein

Note: Be sure to complete "Applying this principle to my fundraising success" at the end of Day 8

The little-known "law of completion" may be the most powerful piece of information in your arsenal of successful fundraising strategies. Pay particular attention to the nuances that it reveals about every donor--actual or potential.

No matter how reasonable your proposal for funds may be or how rational you are in making the case for giving to support your effort, never lose sight of the fact that a determining factor in successful fundraising is emotion or irrationality. Ultimately, people give not because you have convinced them to but because you have awakened an emotional connection to something about which they feel strongly.

You can have all the facts and figures you need and the most convincing arguments, but unless you touch upon the deep seeded motivators--the emotional well-spring--of your potential donors, you will never reach them with your message.

Despite the defenses of sophistication, skepticism, and hesitancy, deep down everyone wants to make a positive difference in the world. At the broadest level, they want to see physical suffering mitigated, poverty reduced or eliminated, illiteracy overcome; in short, they want the world to be a place in which the lives of people of all ages can be fulfilling. This macro-emotional appeal may move them; however, it is not the most important or motivating part of a person's emotional make-up.

The micro-emotional level is where passion originates. Everyone on planet earth has some positive or negative, incomplete or unfulfilled experience in their personal history that motivates them to act. For example, a young man who suffered from polio in his youth becomes obsessed with physical achievement in order to compensate for it and becomes an Olympic gold medalist. An illiterate parent works as a maid so she can educate her children, and they can enjoy a better life. The ugly duckling, wallflower, or female nerd in high school becomes Miss America. Some people spend their lives trying to become what they think and feel they are not, and others want to abate some type of suffering.

As you might suspect, the law of completion not only applies in fundraising, it rules. People give to compensate for what they feel is incomplete in their lives. The successful entrepreneur who could not go to college because he couldn't afford to may be just the person to donate money to provide scholarships for needy students. A woman who was not able to bear children of her own may be the perfect donor to contribute to adoption or fertility programs. Having unexpectedly lost a daughter who was a teacher, a husband and wife might find comfort from contributing a fellowship in her name to memorialize her and help perpetuate her professional efforts.

Ignore the hot-button issues at your own peril. They are truly the ones that will open philanthropic doors and pockets for you. Of course, one reason people give money is because they can save money on taxes. But ultimately, people give money so they will feel better about themselves and about the world in which they live. Set out to reach them at their emotional, as well as their rational, level.

To ask Dr. Goldstein more about "The Law of Completion" or any other fundraising matter, go to
To find out more about 30 Days to Successful Fundraising," go to

"Applying this principle to your fundraising success"
List 5 current and/or potential donors to your nonprofit and (what you suspect may be) their hot-button issues, the ones you can help them "complete" by supporting your cause.