It Wouldn’t Hurt To. . .

How many times have you heard someone suggest a last minute add-on to a direct mail solicitation, event agenda, or phonathon or visit script using this phrase?

The problem with this statement is that almost always works.  We think to ourselves, “yeah, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.”  But ask yourself this, is it wise to place the bar of idea acceptance just above all the bad ones?  So, ideas don’t have to exceptionally good – they just have to not be bad.  Is this an appropriate standard for an effective advancement program?

Sure, sometimes the whatever that comes after the “It wouldn’t hurt to. . .” can be exceptionally good and helpful – maybe the phonathon script does need to ask people if they are planning to attend an upcoming event.  But the real concern with this seemingly innocuous statement is that you run a far greater risk of clouding an exceptionally good and helpful message or focus by adding something that confuses.

In most instances, the primary path to long-term advancement success is not to dream up more messages to send to our constituents.  Or, to plan even more events for them to attend.  Or to come up with even more societies or groups of which they can become members.  We do not suffer from a dearth of ideas or innovations.  We struggle primarily with execution – consistent and compelling execution.

And one of the cardinal sins associated with poor execution is sending so many messages to our constituents that our events, letters, visits – our entire programs – become muddy.

You should always listen when someone says, “It wouldn’t hurt to. . .”  But the decision to add something to our original plan should be made because what follows the “It wouldn’t hurt to. . .” is compelling and helpful.  Not because we believe “it wouldn’t hurt” – because more times than not – it really can hurt.


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