Fundraising Hell, Level 9: The Treacherous

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 nine of a nine-part tour of the levels of Fundraising Hell.

We’ve finally reached the deepest pit of Fundraising Hell. A place so vile, degraded, and horrific that all the levels above seem pleasant by comparison. This is the final home of the Fraudulent: fundraisers who betrayed their donors.

Their fundraising was a con job, meant to enrich themselves, not make the world better.

Those fundraisers in the levels above committed all kinds of sins. They neglected donors, they communicated poorly, they twisted their messaging, they killed relationships. But they were all fundraisers. Their sins were terrible and extreme, but they were trying to raise funds.

These guys in Level 9 — they weren’t about raising funds. They broke the very idea of fundraising.

In fact, some of them were very good fundraisers. They didn’t commit any of the sins of the higher levels. They knew exactly how to motivate donors to give. Except for the most important part of all: the money didn’t do what they told donors it would do.

It’s the ultimate evil any fundraiser can do.

The Fraudulent Fundraisers are eternally frozen in ice. Some up to their necks. Others entirely encased in it.

Think that seems a bit anti-climactic after all the various torments involving fire in the higher levels? Hold an ice cube in your hand for five minutes.

You don’t end up in Level 9 by accident or through incompetence. (Those fundraisers are in various parts of Fundraising Purgatory.) This is the level for the worst of the worst.

Please don’t go there!

Next week: Wrap up. What Fundraising Hell means.

Previous levels:


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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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