One Size Fits None | npENGAGE

One Size Fits None

By on Aug 3, 2010


One size fits all luggage, bed sheets, trash bags, engagement rings, laptop batteries, picture frames, and shoes are a bad idea. That’s because one size fits all usually fits none.

One size fits all means generalizing everyone and compromising everything. It does make mass production easier. But there’s no personalization. Nothing special and unique about something made for everything. There’s no soul in one size fits all.

The same is true for the one size fits all email message. The one size fits all online donation form. The one size fits all membership program. The one size fits all advocacy action alert. The one size fits all giving club. The one size fits all volunteer. The one size fits all thank you letter. The one size fits all pledge reminder. The one size fits all phone call. The one size fits all capital campaign.

Your supporters don’t look good in one size fits all. Neither does your organization.

When you sit down to plan that next mailing, event, email, or anything else — resist the temptation to use a one size fits all mindset. If it doesn’t pass the relevant, personal, and meaningful test, then it’s not done yet.

The one size that fits all fails all. Focus on experiences where one size fits one.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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