The Story of “The Long Tail” Comes Into its Own

Not that Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, who first brought the “sell less of more” philosophy to our attention, needs our help…but it does seem that his concept could thrive in the not-for-profit world.

Here’s the problem many nonprofits have in the COVID era: While the technology is there to speed giving, it’s hard to get the attention of a scattered audience.

Nonprofits are usually pretty good at talking one-on-one, presenting the need with passion and urgency. It’s when they get in front of millions—If they can get in front of millions—that they falter. The messaging gets muddy, forcing the donor to take time to figure out which charity is best, where the money is really going, and why they should give.

There is a way to re-think what donors need and identify donors who align with a particular non-profit. You start by pinpointing their common need.

In a pandemic world, giving back is based on realizing that there is a specific need and that it takes each of us to contribute to meet it. One example of this is food programs for those who have lost their livelihood due to COVID. We’ve addressed it by setting up assistance for restaurant workers and others impacted financially. We’ve addressed it by giving blood and becoming aware of local situations where we can help. We could address it because we knew enough about the problem to find the common need. That’s not always the case.

In one giving period last year, people in the U.S. donated nearly $2.5 billion — up 25% from the year before, according to the GivingTuesday movement.

Each charitable organization meets a particular need. The fun comes in matching the millions and millions of potential donors–who may not even know their best fit in a charity–to what is out there, ready to meet the need. In other words, and as the long tail specifies, we quit thinking about them in terms of millions of blank faces and start thinking about individual needs grouped into millions of markets. It starts with understanding the need, and matching the message to those with that need.

We can help you tell the story fewer times, with more impact, by identifying your audience and strategizing with you for your message. If you’d like more information on what we’re watching in the field of philanthropy, just let us know. We’d love to talk.