Opinions about fundraising are nearly always wrong

If your boss — the executive director, president, or some hyper-vigilant board member — is the source of much of your fundraising failure, you are not alone. And you should check out this post at Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog: 9 Things to do when you’re right but your boss thinks you’re wrong.

One of those nine things is especially important:

Do not argue the merits of anything based only on your opinion.

Here’s why: When it comes to fundraising, opinions are always wrong. Sometimes, by sheer coincidence, an opinion is aligned with the facts. But that’s temporary and never trustworthy.

As long as the discussion is “what I like” pitted against “what you like,” you are lost in the topsy-turvy world of marketing relativism. The winner of the argument is the one with the more vivid opinion. Or the boss.

Get facts instead.

Here’s an example: Everyone who doesn’t know much about fundraising believes we should keep messages short, short, short — because “nobody” reads long messages. This seems intuitively correct. It will usually win the argument.

But it’s wrong. Everyone who knows their stuff knows that long messages are almost always more effective.

The best source of facts is direct response testing of your own hypotheses on your own donors. If your numbers (or budget) are too small for valid testing, pay attention to the experts. Read books on fundraising. Follow the blogs. Hire somebody smart. And pay attention.

Any time a decision is being made on opinion, taste, or personal preference — it is almost for sure the wrong decision.

If you need help setting your boss straight (and I’m quite sure you do), go read Katya’s post, where you’ll find eight more tips for getting it right.


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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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