How to handle “great fundraising ideas” from your board

One of the great calamities in fundraising is when a board member has fundraising ideas, as described at The Nth Factor blog, at When Great Board Members Have Not-So-Great Fundraising Ideas. Here are some pretty typical board member fundraising ideas:


  1. I don’t read long letters, so our fundraising letters should be short.
  2. Our donors get too much email/mail from us and are starting to tune us out. If we send less, they’ll be more welcoming of our communications and will give more.
  3. Our major gifts program raises so much more than our membership program. We should shut down our membership program and just focus on major gifts.
  4. We need to do something “different.”
  5. Direct mail is so expensive and everyone gives online anyway. We should eliminate our direct mail program and fundraise online only.

These are things you will commonly hear from board members and other non-experts (including executive directors). It all makes perfect sense … if you don’t have any specific knowledge about how fundraising works.

It’s all bad, bad advice. If you go with any of these ideas, you can expect devastating results.

Just because they’re on the board doesn’t mean all their ideas are good. Successful fundraising is guided by facts and experience, not off-the-cuff opinions of amateurs.

I know it’s not easy to ignore the advice of those in authority. Maybe you can show them this blog post and say “The Internet says so.” (Which is normally a very bad idea, but might save your bacon this time!)


Comments

4 responses to “How to handle “great fundraising ideas” from your board”

  1. Oh, Jeff; I love this post! As an independent grant writer, I have these awesome clients who are intimately involved with their project or program (which is awesome), but they think they know something about grant writing and they’re always trying to throw in their two cents (which is far from awesome). Great post, Jeff. I update my blog with the latest news on grant awards and fundraising every night if you care to see it (http://grantpros2011.wordpress.com). My website also has lots of info on grants and grant writing at http://www.grantpros.org

  2. Oh, Jeff; I love this post! As an independent grant writer, I have these awesome clients who are intimately involved with their project or program (which is awesome), but they think they know something about grant writing and they’re always trying to throw in their two cents (which is far from awesome). Great post, Jeff. I update my blog with the latest news on grant awards and fundraising every night if you care to see it (http://grantpros2011.wordpress.com). My website also has lots of info on grants and grant writing at http://www.grantpros.org

  3. Jeff, I laughed SO OUT LOUD when I read this!
    When I present about online giving (and now, social media), I always start with something similar, which basically is the biggest hindrance to starting online/social programs:
    The boss’/board’s response(s) to the proposal:
    — *I* wouldn’t give *MY* credit card number online, so… (the rest of our donors probably won’t either)
    — *I* don’t have a Facebook account, therefore…(nobody who agrees with our mission would bother following us if we created one)
    …and so on…
    Once we (nearly all) acknowledge that THIS will be the biggest hurdle to getting the new system in place, grasping the rest of it is all downhill from there!
    Heaven save us from the “everybody must feel the way *I* do” supporters!!
    Valerie Lambert
    Director
    Bilou Enterprises

  4. Jeff, I laughed SO OUT LOUD when I read this!
    When I present about online giving (and now, social media), I always start with something similar, which basically is the biggest hindrance to starting online/social programs:
    The boss’/board’s response(s) to the proposal:
    — *I* wouldn’t give *MY* credit card number online, so… (the rest of our donors probably won’t either)
    — *I* don’t have a Facebook account, therefore…(nobody who agrees with our mission would bother following us if we created one)
    …and so on…
    Once we (nearly all) acknowledge that THIS will be the biggest hurdle to getting the new system in place, grasping the rest of it is all downhill from there!
    Heaven save us from the “everybody must feel the way *I* do” supporters!!
    Valerie Lambert
    Director
    Bilou Enterprises

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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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