A fundraising lesson from Art Linkletter

Linkletter
I was sad to learn about the passing of old-time TV star Art Linkletter Wednesday at age 97.

Linkletter was a genuine success who found his greatness in a way that critics and experts didn’t understand and didn’t like.

Television critics and intellectuals found the Linkletter persona bland and his popularity unfathomable. “There is nothing greatly impressive, one way or the other, about his appearance, mannerisms, or his small talk,” one newspaper critic wrote. Another referred to his “imperishable banality.”

Millions of Americans disagreed. They responded to his wholesome, friendly manner and upbeat appeal. Women … loved his easy, enthusiastic way with children.

I don’t know how he felt about being labeled with “imperishable banality,” but he didn’t seem to let it influence what he did.

And that’s an inspiration. One a lot of fundraisers should note.

We so often get caught up playing to the experts — in our case, it’s our bosses and program directors who are the voices and personalities of our organizations. They want fundraising to be a certain way that tickles their fancy. And they are just as wrong as the critics were about Art Linkletter.

The stuff that works — in fundraising and so many other fields — is what the non-experts respond to. You can spend all your energy getting good reviews — and fail. Or you can reach out to the real audience and do very, very well.

Thanks for the reminder, Art!


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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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