Fundraising lessons from Andy Rooney

by guest blogger Jennifer Miller

You ever wonder what fundraisers can learn from the late Andy Rooney?

Andy-rooney
His signature commentaries at the end of “60 Minutes” might give us a clue. His musings spanned topics from pies to politics. But the topics weren’t as important as his delivery: Clear. Concise. The kind of simply constructed truths that made you smack your forehead and question everything you thought you knew about the fabled Mrs. Smith and her supposed baking. You always knew where Andy stood on a topic.

You also ever wonder what made Andy Rooney so popular with older viewers? You know, the crowd that generally gives to our fundraising efforts?

My theory is that the gentle pock marks of time makes older viewers — and donors — a lot more savvy than younger people give them credit for. They want the low-down, and not on the down-low. Say what it is that you mean, and mean what you say. And that’s what Andy delivered.

Andy publicly fancied himself a writer more than a broadcaster. So I started to wonder … what if Andy Rooney wrote fundraising appeals?

For starters, you’d never get a letter that buried the ask in the tenth paragraph. You’d know why he was writing and what he was asking for. No extra fluff or nonsense to clutter the offer. Just enough emotion and deftly worded touches to leave you inspired — and motivated to give. If he wrote this blog post, for example, it would be half as long and twice as powerful.

Andy’s observations, and the way he worded them, left little room for argument. And that’s exactly what good direct-response fundraising should do, too: Identify the need. Make the donor the problem-solver. Give the offer. Ask for the gift.

That’s the way Andy might have done it, anyway.


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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.

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