What a good hug can teach you about communications and fundraising

I love a good hug. Holding someone close and giving them a big squeeze says so much. It’s intimate. It’s connected. At it’s best, a one-on-one hug is a physical representation of our shared human experience.

Group hugs are good too. Locking limbs with a group of friends and family is an expression of group solidarity and support. I’ve got your back. You’ve got mine. We’re in this together.

But how many people can you hug at one time?

Of course, there is a limit to how many people you can physically hug. But I also think there is a limit to how many people you can sincerely hug. And I believe it relates directly to communications and fundraising.

Bear with me a second.

If you try to hug everyone at the same time, it diminishes the sincerity of the hug. It’s a one-size-fits all kind of hug. It has to be everything to everyone — strong and soft, celebratory and somber, joyful and tearful.

That kind of hug is meh. It doesn’t feel special or personal.

That’s exactly what organizations do when they try to talk to everyone like everyone.

Mark and I recently conducted in-depth interviews for a client. And even though everyone on staff was clear about who their target audience is (they want to engage medical students), their website and communications were written for everyone remotely related to the group. They basically are outstretching their arms to anyone — and therefore, only giving a few hugs to those who really matter.

Know your audience. Know what they want from you. Know what you want from them. And communicate through that lens. That’s what a good fundraising and communications hug looks like.