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The Paralyzed By Materials Paradox

How beautiful are my materials…!

I’ve seen a couple of boards lately that are paralyzed by the materials paradox – they can’t get started going out and asking for money because their materials aren’t ready, and they’re running out of money and volunteer enthusiasm because they’re not going out and asking for money.

It happens – you get to a stage in fundraising planning where you’re bursting to get the rubber hitting the road.

And then someone says: “We’ve got to have the right materials to leave with our prospects – we don’t have the right message, we don’t have the right information, we don’t have the right framing.”

And 3 months go by while a fundraising/marketing task force develops collateral material by committee.


Sure the eventual product is great, and sure it represents the organization well, even redefines the group’s case and profile. Perhaps even revolutionizes how people conceptualize and articulate the agency’s appeal.

But the prospects have grown cold and the askers have slinked away and you’re left all dressed up for the party with nowhere to go.

So the answer is: it just needs to be good enough. Not perfect.

For many years I had a list above my desk of ways to avoid procrastination (I think one of my employees finally stole the list from me!). Number one was:

“Don’t giftwrap the garbage.”

Not that fundraising collateral materials are garbage – but spending time on them is sometimes (not all the time) yet another way of avoiding the eyeball-to-eyeball moment of making the ask.

So take the plunge, set up the meeting, and then figure out what you need to bring along once the date is looming large.

And good luck!