What makes fundraising fail

Crappy, failing fundraising copy is often the way it is because somebody liked that way. Not that someone wanted it to be crappy, but they wanted certain characteristics — usually things like a professional tone, a dignified, non-urgent approach, maybe a side goal of lecturing the reader into a better understanding of the cause.

Successful fundraising copy, on the other hand, is almost never the way it is because fundraising professionals like it that way. The good stuff is the result of experience, discipline, and head-to-head testing. All the testing and measurement leads to a factual understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Somebody’s personal preference? That’s not a fact. It has a snowball-in-hell chance of working. That’s not a 0% chance, but darn close to it.

Want to have a fighting chance of doing well? Start with facts and knowledge. Then sprinkle on some instinct and hunches — but test them.


Comments

10 responses to “What makes fundraising fail”

  1. Any fundraising letter or newsletter that is created by committee is destined to fail. People forget to focus on the recipient – the donor. Instead, they create the piece to please themselves.
    Sandy Rees, CFRE
    Fundraising Coach
    http://www.getfullyfunded.com

  2. Any fundraising letter or newsletter that is created by committee is destined to fail. People forget to focus on the recipient – the donor. Instead, they create the piece to please themselves.
    Sandy Rees, CFRE
    Fundraising Coach
    http://www.getfullyfunded.com

  3. Joanne Felci Avatar
    Joanne Felci

    What tests would you suggest?
    We have been testing things like carrier/no carrier and stamp vs NPO indecia.

  4. Joanne Felci Avatar
    Joanne Felci

    What tests would you suggest?
    We have been testing things like carrier/no carrier and stamp vs NPO indecia.

  5. Joanne, consider going beyond testing techniques like postage treatment and test whole packages. New offers, different creative. Test things that are controversial within your organization so you can put any myths to bed. It’s good to test the small stuff, but it’s better to test the bold, scary, big stuff.

  6. Joanne, consider going beyond testing techniques like postage treatment and test whole packages. New offers, different creative. Test things that are controversial within your organization so you can put any myths to bed. It’s good to test the small stuff, but it’s better to test the bold, scary, big stuff.

  7. Joanne Felci Avatar
    Joanne Felci

    Thanks for the advice Mary!
    Just so I’m clear, I should still only test one element at a time correct?

  8. Joanne Felci Avatar
    Joanne Felci

    Thanks for the advice Mary!
    Just so I’m clear, I should still only test one element at a time correct?

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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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