One big fundraising mistake that leads to many other mistakes

From Karen Zapp’s Nonprofit Blog, 5 Most Common Mistakes in Fundraising Copy. Here they are:


  • Assume a level of knowledge and familiarity that just isn’t there.
  • Every letter or email tries to cover everything you do.
  • Fail to show how a donor makes a difference.
  • Fundraising appeal written by committee.
  • Copy is NOT donor-centric. It doesn’t put the reader in the hero’s spotlight.

In my experience, all of these super-common mistakes are symptoms of an even more common mental error: Fundraising from yourself.

It’s so easy to aim your fundraising message at yourself — to create the message you find compelling. That’s what causes you to assume the donor knows and cares about things they’ve never considered. It’s what makes you try to say too much. It’s what makes you skip telling the donor she’s critical to the cause. And it allows committees to grab control of projects — because, after all, we have to make all the insiders happy, don’t we?

Remind yourself every day that you are not the donor. Neither is your executive director, your consultant, or any of your board members. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be a lot less likely to make those copy mistakes.


Comments

2 responses to “One big fundraising mistake that leads to many other mistakes”

  1. 100% true! The number of people I have seen over the years refuse to sign-off campaigns, brands or even ideas because they “didn’t like it…” is significant.
    Guess what?!? It doesn’t matter what we like, it matters what the audience in questions will respond to. And that’s it.
    Check out any bank that tries to market to young people if you don’t believe me (or Jeff’s thoughts above).

  2. 100% true! The number of people I have seen over the years refuse to sign-off campaigns, brands or even ideas because they “didn’t like it…” is significant.
    Guess what?!? It doesn’t matter what we like, it matters what the audience in questions will respond to. And that’s it.
    Check out any bank that tries to market to young people if you don’t believe me (or Jeff’s thoughts above).

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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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