The most deadly error in fundraising

The most deadly (and common) error in fundraising:

Assuming your donors don’t like to hear from you — and that too much contact (whatever that means) will drive away donors, causing your donor file to erode and eventually collapse.

There’s no evidence that it’s true. In fact, the evidence shows us that decreasing donor contact almost always leads to not only less revenue but worse donor retention.

In other words, you’re a lot more likely to drive away donors by not communicating enough than you are by over-communicating.

Of course, there are donors who are annoyed by hearing from you, and tell you so. They tend to loom large, but don’t assume they speak for anyone but themselves.

Here’s what you can expect when you communicate less with donors:


  • It’ll cost you a lot of revenue in the short term.
  • It’ll erode your file in the long term.
  • Worst of all, if you think fundraising is sucky and annoying, your fundraising will be sucky and annoying.

I don’t know too many fundraisers who can afford that combination of plagues.


Comments

4 responses to “The most deadly error in fundraising”

  1. Point well made!
    Less contact will definitely lose you more donors that too much contact will.
    You may drive away those one or two donors that get irritated by your thanks, updates, and requests… but on general people will feel more involved if you keep them updated and in the know!
    Remember, “Out of sight; Out of mind!”
    That’s for the simple, yet great post!

  2. Point well made!
    Less contact will definitely lose you more donors that too much contact will.
    You may drive away those one or two donors that get irritated by your thanks, updates, and requests… but on general people will feel more involved if you keep them updated and in the know!
    Remember, “Out of sight; Out of mind!”
    That’s for the simple, yet great post!

  3. Short, sweet and to the point. It’s one of the many important things I emphasize when working board members and fundraising staff members.

  4. Short, sweet and to the point. It’s one of the many important things I emphasize when working board members and fundraising staff members.

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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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About the blogger

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.