How your board destroys your fundraising

In the most recent edition of Contributions Magazine, here’s a great article by Tom Ahern: On the Delicate Subject of Committee and Board Approvals.

Why do people who know nothing about fundraising have approval authority over fundraising messages?

… we often cede the weighty responsibility of “blessing” fundraising communications to higher authorities: boards, committees, the executive director. That’s irresponsible. Uninformed opinions and second-guessing can, without malice or intent, easily ruin competent work and undermine your ability to raise money. When untrained people have the final say on what goes out the door, you run a serious risk.

I’d say “risk” is an under-statement. When you put non-experts in charge, you have near-certainty of bad results.

This may be the top cause of ineffective fundraising.

There are right and wrong ways to do fundraising, and a surprising number of the right ways are counterintuitive. When you ask your board or director to comment, all they have to offer is their intuition. And their intuition is wrong.


Comments

2 responses to “How your board destroys your fundraising”

  1. The problem is not only putting non-experts in charge. Sometimes, when it comes to writing fundraising letters, we development pros (and our E.D.s) are our own worst enemies. I recently posted on the subject http://clairification.blogspot.com/2011/10/opinion-above-knowledge-common.html#more We need to figure out a way to get inside the hearts/minds of the lion’s share of our constituents. It’s not about what WE think and value.

  2. The problem is not only putting non-experts in charge. Sometimes, when it comes to writing fundraising letters, we development pros (and our E.D.s) are our own worst enemies. I recently posted on the subject http://clairification.blogspot.com/2011/10/opinion-above-knowledge-common.html#more We need to figure out a way to get inside the hearts/minds of the lion’s share of our constituents. It’s not about what WE think and value.

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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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