Good fundraising is a lot like creating fan clubs

Here’s a useful distinction from the Make Marketing History blog: Fan Clubs Not Fanfares. Here are the differences:



Fanfares feed the egos of creators and advertisers. Fan Clubs feed the needs of prospective and existing customers. Fanfares aim to create water cooler moments. Fan Clubs are the water cooler.

Ask most marketers or ad people to motivate folks to give to your organization, and they’ll start dreaming up fanfares. Noisy, big, expensive fanfares — that they hope will win them some awards. And 99 times out of a hundred, they will fail to stir up meaningful support.


Fan clubs — that’s a different kind of challenge. Tougher, more subtle; you can’t get there by throwing money around. To create fan clubs, you must:



  • Do something people are excited about doing.
  • Find a special group of people who are passionately into it — and like talking about it.
  • Give them stuff to talk about, and maybe give them ways to connect.

Then the fan clubs do your marketing for you.


There are two rules to remember about this:



  1. If you are a nonprofit, you can not afford a fanfare that’s loud enough to make a difference.
  2. Even if you could, it most often doesn’t make a difference, so don’t try to get one made for you pro-bono.

Just do cool stuff and find people who want to do cool stuff along with you.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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