Political correctness and fundraising

“Political correctness” tends to occupy some territory between funny and annoying for most of us. That tortured way of avoiding saying anything concrete, clear, or interesting could hardly be called dangerous, could it?

So this headline in Third Sector (a UK publication) might seem a bit much: The menace of political correctness.

Menace? Really?

Well, yes.

Because political correctness kills fundraising revenue. It does it by making fundraising abstract, confusing, and inhuman.

The typical form PC takes in fundraising is to obfuscate or flat-out deny the problem you’re asking the donors to help solve. Not naming the disease. Not showing pictures of people in need.

Turns out when you don’t present donors with a problem, they are less likely to join you on a solution. Who’da thought?

The Third Sector article cites two cases: a charity that helps children in need that never showed children in need, and a hospice that never showed people at all (most people in hospice care are dying, but you probably knew that; so does everyone else).

The reason? Those non-PC images of need are troubling to the charity staff. They’d rather use circumlocution and abstraction to avoid the real issues than share images that make them uncomfortable…

Any chief executive presiding over such nonsense is unworthy of the job. The choice is simple: either more money raised, and a few social workers supposedly embarrassed professionally; or professional staff smugly satisfied, and many kids left in the mire of a dysfunctional home life. I know what I’d choose.

If it’s more important for you to keep your staff comfortable than it is to raise funds — and that is exactly the choice you make when you toe the PC line — you aren’t a fundraiser. You’re a therapy service for your staff.

And I doubt that’s in your charter.


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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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