Fundraising Hell, Level 3: The Gluttonous

Inferno

If Dante had been a fundraiser, his Inferno might have been slightly different, featuring the evils specific to fundraisers. I have corrected Dante’s oversight. This is part three of a nine-part tour of the levels of Fundraising Hell.

We continue our trip downward, leaving the terrible winds of the Lustful Fundraisers and enter the level inhabited by Gluttonous Fundraisers.

These are the fundraisers who only took, never gave. They gobbled up donors, tossing out one campaign after another to rake in the gifts — but they never thanked donors, never reported back, never gave any thought to building relationships.

As new digital capabilities become available that allowed richer and deeper communication, they covered their eyes and ran away. They didn’t want two-way communication with donors! Too difficult!

They saw donors as resources to consume. Not as fellow human beings and partners in a shared cause. They became great experts in the art of response rates, but knew and cared little about donor retention or upgrading. Low average gifts or abysmal costs-per-donor didn’t bother them — just as long as they got those responses, the gross revenue in the door. They didn’t even care that their approach was profoundly unhealthy and unsustainable.

Their punishment: they lie like beached whales in smelly, slushy pools of semi-frozen sewage. As they were in life, they are blind and unaware of those around them.

If you want to avoid this afterlife, make sure you think about more than response rates and gross revenue. Watch retention like a hawk. Ask yourself what donors want out of giving to you. Think about donors as a precious resource you steward, not something to extract all the value out of and move on.

Next Monday — Level 4: The Greedy and Wasteful

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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.

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