How common sense fails fundraisers

When become fundraisers for the first time, you can do them a big favor by helping “reprogram” them. Most fundraising newbies have some very common-sense opinions about their new profession. If they’ve thought much about it, they’ll probably have a list of reforms they intend bring about. Things like:


  • Get rid of direct mail. Nobody responds to it any more.
  • If we contact people less, they might give more.
  • Short and to-the-point messages will work better.
  • We could raise a lot more money if we go to people in their 20s.
  • Don’t be so simple and urgent. We’re putting people off.

Common-sense stuff. But wrong.

Writing at the Hilborn Blog, Jonathan Grapsas points out the problem with common sense, at Fundraising reprogramming:

Don’t be one of those people who say, “I wouldn’t respond to this,” or “I don’t like it.” Listen to data, not just your instinct. Often they will be at odds, and direct response is about what the data says, not what you think it might say.

Your own sense of how things ought to be is a terrible barometer for effective fundraising. In fact, you can almost use your own taste and common sense as a counter-indicator: If you like it, if it makes sense to you — it’s probably not going to work.


Comments

2 responses to “How common sense fails fundraisers”

  1. Great post Jeff!
    Gut feelings & instinct need to be heavily tempered with actual data. I love the idea of using yourself as a counter-indicator. That takes some real ego squashing, but in the end, results are what matter more than your personal feelings.
    Rickesh

  2. Great post Jeff!
    Gut feelings & instinct need to be heavily tempered with actual data. I love the idea of using yourself as a counter-indicator. That takes some real ego squashing, but in the end, results are what matter more than your personal feelings.
    Rickesh

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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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