Hornets & The Gift Of Going Second


Jewish storytellers tell of a very exclusive weapon that gave their forebears a decisive edge on the battlefield. It was a weapon of terror, and theirs was the only nation and army in the world who had it.

The knowledge of such a weapon brought unimaginable terror to their enemies. Even the mention of this weapon would scare whole nations into submission before their arrival. The perfect weapon, it caused no collateral damage and left the wealth of nations intact.

This weapon went before their armies. When it was released, enemy armies would panic and run. Successfully used, the warriors merely walked into enemy territory, scooped up the loot and occupied their land! The real work was done before they arrived.

What was the weapon? Hornets!

The storytellers tell how their God would send swarms of hornets into their enemies' lands ahead of their conquests. They would march for days or weeks, ready for battle to arrive at a terrorized, demoralized, and defeated enemy (Read more here). The real work having already been done, the warriors merely occupied the land and enjoyed the spoils.

When I read this story, I think about the gift this was. It was the gift of going second! The Jewish army arrived on the scene to enjoy the benefits of showing up second! By the time they had arrived, they merely had to scoop up the loot; the hard work had already been done!

This gift of going second is a gift that you, as a fundraiser, can give to your donors. When you give your donors the gift of going second, by the time you ask for their help, the hard work has already been done and they are pumped, primed and eager to give to your mission. As a matter of fact, they will thank you for giving them the opportunity to give!

When fundraisers learn how to give their donors the gift of going second, fundraising gets fun!

A major key to successful fundraising involves giving donors this gift of going second. But, how do we do that?

Visionary fundraisers give donors the gift of going second when they tell stories of other donors who have previously given.

Social psychologists call this gift of going second social proof. As human beings, we are hard-wired to look to others to determine what is proper behavior. Social proof is why:

  • Bartenders "salt the jar"

  • Websites have a little screen that tells you who just bought from them

  • Great websites have pictures of happy customers using their products or services

  • TV sitcoms have laugh tracks

  • Charity telethons always show a bank of people answering phones

  • We read Google and Amazon reviews before we buy a product

  • The Apostle Paul says follow me as I follow Christ

  • And he challenges one church to give by bragging on another church's giving


Fundraisers provide "social proof" and give donors the gift of going second when they tell stories of other donors giving to support their mission. When you have become an excellent story teller, your donors become primed to generously give when asked. Actually, when your donors have been generously plied with stories about the impact your mission brings, they thank you for the privilige of giving!

When you tell stories of people who give monthly, you tell potential donors that giving monthly is proper behavior. You are giving potential donors the gift of going second.

When you tell stories of people who give sacrificially, you tell potential donors that giving sacrificially is proper behavior. You are giving potential donors the gift of going second.

When you tell stories of people who volunteer at your organization, you tell potential volunteers that volunteering at your organization is proper behavior. You are giving volunteers the gift of going second.

When you tell stories of people who leave legacy gifts to your mission, you are telling people that leaving legacy gifts to your mission is proper behavior. You are giving legacy givers the gift of going second.

NOTHING inspires action for the greater good more than stories. Stories are the currency that fundraisers collect in order to pay their donors.


The problem: We tell stories about ourselves, our staff, our buildings, our classes, our degrees, our equipment, ad nauseam! We fill donors with information. Information about yourself, your staff and your programs are not stories.

The solution: Tell stories about donors giving finances, time, influence, and more. Tell stories about the beneficiaries of your mission whose lives are forever changed.

We give donors the gift of going second when we tell stories about the joy and fulfillment others get from joining in our mission.

We give donors the gift of going second when telling the correct stories.

You give donors the gift of going second when you tell the right stories at the right time!

One of the first things I get my clients to do is to collect and start telling stories about donor impact. Do it well and trust me, the dollars will roll in.

Think about your next appeal. Will it tell stories that give donors the gift of going second?

What about your next presentation? Will it tell the stories of the life-change your organization brings?

What about your website's landing page? Does it bring your potential donor into the power of a story?

What about the "about us" page on your website? Is it all about your degrees and accomplishments? Does it harness the power of a story that pulls people in?

What about your next staff meeting? How will the power of story be maximized?

How are you maximizing the power of story?

Raising more money means telling more and better stories. The better you become at turning your statistics into stories, the more the world will listen. Want more money? Tell better stories!

Fundraising just got fun: SEND OUT THE HORNETS!


David Oaks

P.S. Need some help crafting stories for your mission? I have created a free resource, Five Stories To Tell To Fully Fund Your Vision. It is free, my gift to you. I want to help you change the world. It is free, no strings attached. CLICK HERE TO GET IT.

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