Fundraising starts with donors

Here’s how to create an unsuccessful fundraising campaign: Make it up.

Wait: Isn’t that how we do everything?

Well, no. It shouldn’t be. We should never pull ideas out of our ears. We should always start with something we know about donors — their desires, their behavior.

Web Ink Now takes a look at this at Making stuff up:

Sitting around a conference room with your colleagues and agency staffers results in groupthink that’s not tied to the realities of the marketplace. This behavior means you start by talking about product features, then reverse engineer benefits that you think you provide, which results in “marketing” around the made up benefits.

The reasons your donors give is not because of your awesome programs, first-rate staff, or superb mission. It’s not even because of your brand that you worked so hard to develop.

They give for reasons of their own that have almost nothing to do with any of those things.

When we gather in the conference rooms, we tend to come up with these great ideas that have nothing to do with donors. And then we talk ourselves into the greatness of our great ideas.

Start instead with donors. Know what they respond to and create better and better versions of that.


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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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