Fundraising Hell, Level 8: The Fraudulent

Inferno

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

You thought Fundraising Hell couldn’t get any worse after seeing what’s happening to the Brand Cops?

Think again. (Evil laughter.) It gets worse as we drop down a massive cliff to the level of the Fraudulent — fundraisers who lied to donors.

These fundraisers were loose with the truth. They knew what kinds of stories moved donors to compassion, so they told those stories. Even when the stories weren’t true.

They fudged a statistic here, exaggerated a truth there. They failed to tell the truth.

You might wonder why these little white lies — told in service of good causes — land people so deep in Fundraising Hell. After all they are deeper in than fundraisers who did committed much more dramatic evils. After all, fundraisers who preferred to brag about themselves over connecting with donors are way up in the 4th level. And Greedy fundraisers who only took and never gave are up in the 3rd level. Heck, even Brand Cops are higher than these guys.

Well, those little lies might look insignificant to us, but the harm they do is immense: Many donors live in fear that we aren’t telling them the truth. In fact, one of the reasons people who never donate give is they don’t think charities are trustworthy. When we let untruths go out to donors, we confirm their fears. We make fundraising that much harder not only for ourselves but for all fundraisers — including the scrupulously honest ones. Worse yet, we put up a wall between donors and the causes they should be supporting.

For that, some of the Fraudulent are driven like cattle by demons with whips. Others are trapped head-first in tight holes, their feet on fire. Others just writhe forever, enveloped in flames that never go out.

Don’t lie! Not even a tiny bit! You don’t want to land in the 8th Level of Fundraising Hell!

Next Monday — Level 9: The Treacherous

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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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