It’s not your donors’ fault — stop scolding them

Sometimes the way the world is just frustrates you. You want to grab every single person in the world by the lapels and say something adolescent like Wake up!

A lot of fundraisers are like that. Unfortunately, some of them do their fundraising like that too, as noted at the Inspiring Generosity blog: The Failure of Fingerwagging, especially in reference to environmental fundraising…

If we want to change, we have to provide encouragement. We have to provide ways for people to feel good about participating in our efforts. And we have to provide a solution to the problem.

This is not only true if you’re fundraising for the environment. It’s all fundraising.

Motivating people to give is by definition giving them hope for a solution.

That’s why:


  • Telling donors global environmental destruction is spiraling out of control is bad fundraising.
  • Reminding donors how many people are taken away by cancer (or any other disease) is bad fundraising.
  • Telling donors that tens of thousands of children died from hunger today is bad fundraising.
  • And most of all — scolding those same donors for not doing enough to stop the horror. Bad fundraising.

Good fundraising presents the problems in small, solvable chunks and gives them a solution that’s in their grasp.

Your donors weren’t born yesterday. They know they aren’t going to stop climate change by themselves. But they know that can take a small, meaningful action. It’s your job to show them that action.

Not to wag your finger about how hopeless everything is.


Comments

2 responses to “It’s not your donors’ fault — stop scolding them”

  1. Charlie Hulme Avatar
    Charlie Hulme

    Very true. Also we’ll never stop finger wagging until we move from a ‘what should be’ mind set around donor motivation to a ‘what is’ one.
    Back in 1996 George Smith wrote that we “beguile ourselves with the belief that the educated donor has finally arrived. This is a creature who gives to Oxfam because s/he appreciates the role of development in the South, who gives to WWF because s/he knows all about biological diversity, who gives to a cancer charity because s/he reads New Scientist.
    S/he may exist. Indeed s/he may represent five per cent of donors. But there is no evidence whatsoever that we have increased the proportion of these knowledgeable and erudite people. At the risk of being totally overbearing I would suggest that most people give to Oxfam because they want hungry people fed, that they give to WWF because they want tigers saved and that they give to Cancer Research UK because they know a cancer sufferer”.

  2. Charlie Hulme Avatar
    Charlie Hulme

    Very true. Also we’ll never stop finger wagging until we move from a ‘what should be’ mind set around donor motivation to a ‘what is’ one.
    Back in 1996 George Smith wrote that we “beguile ourselves with the belief that the educated donor has finally arrived. This is a creature who gives to Oxfam because s/he appreciates the role of development in the South, who gives to WWF because s/he knows all about biological diversity, who gives to a cancer charity because s/he reads New Scientist.
    S/he may exist. Indeed s/he may represent five per cent of donors. But there is no evidence whatsoever that we have increased the proportion of these knowledgeable and erudite people. At the risk of being totally overbearing I would suggest that most people give to Oxfam because they want hungry people fed, that they give to WWF because they want tigers saved and that they give to Cancer Research UK because they know a cancer sufferer”.

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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.