image“Generous Nation,” the campaign by the Ad Council urges Americans to give—just give.

The campaign, created by top creatives from top agencies, is slick, clever, well-executed—and spectacularly off-target.  Just about what you expect when agency bigshots try to figure out fundraising.

The campaign tagline is Don’t almost give.  Give.  You can find out all about it and see the very nice 30-second PSAs at the Don’t Almost Give website.

This campaign seems to have been built on three faulty assumptions:

Assumption #1: The battle for charitable giving takes place between good intentions and inertia.

Inertia is a minor factor for most donors, who give all the time.  The barriers you have to overcome in donors’ hearts and minds are these: Does this matter? and Will my gift make a difference?  Inertia is probably a factor for chronic non-donors, mainly those who have not yet matured into donor status, which leads to the next assumption…

Assumption #2: The audience is the precious 18-34 group. 

They’ve defined their own audience, but the choice isn’t wise.  Selling giving to the younger generation is about like selling skateboards to the 55+ group.  You’ll get some takers, but you’re not in the sweet spot.

Assumption #3: Giving is a generic act.

To misquote Tip O’Neil, All philanthropy is specific.

The Ad Council’s intentions are good.  But really, they should have done a little research on who gives and why.

(Illustration courtesy of Stockxpert.)

imageJeff Brooks is creative director at Merkle|Domain, a direct-response agency serving the nonprofit world.  He blogs at the Donor Power Blog.