Giving Products: Scalpel vs. Swiss Army Knife

There are dozens of tools to accomplish any job within an organization—hundreds of ways to solve any problem.

Technology is incredibly powerful, but it can also be very complicated. With so many options, how do we choose? The decisions are endless and can lead to paralysis.

Our team relies on a helpful mental model when evaluating a tool: Scalpels vs. Swiss Army Knives. It’s the age-old comparison between the generalist vs. the specialist, Jack of All Trades or Master of One.

The Swiss Army Knife is adaptable to many situations. It does a lot, but compromises on quality or depth of expertise. Doing more comes at the cost of ‘doing it better.’ Variety is both its value and its limitation.

The Scalpel seeks to reduce complexity in pursuit of a more significant, focused impact. It does less, but it’s highly effective at each task. It doesn’t do much, but for what it does do, it’s best in class. Simple is often confused with weakness.

The Power of the Scalpel

We are Scalpel people. Our team at New Story prefers a few high-leverage tools over a one-size-fits-all solution. Each tool has a singular purpose and does it very well. Staying focused allows us to solve our largest problems more thoroughly.

Our fundraising efforts are no exception. Instead of trying to tackle every problem, we’ve set our sights on three outcomes:

  • Increase the number of donations.
  • Grow the size of each donation
  • Convert more donations from one-time to recurring.

When you accomplish these goals consistently, lesser problems take care of themselves.DonorSecure was born from this vision — the market is filled with excellent Swiss Army Knife options for online giving. We aren’t trying to compete.

As a fellow nonprofit, we have seen the value of the Scalpel approach. Fundraising is hard enough without trying to wrangle complex systems. The path to successful fundraising isn’t doing more and bigger.

We’ve chosen to pursue less, but better.

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