Don’t waste your money trying to pump up “awareness”

Some “marketing experts” would have you believe fundraising is a two-step process: First you must make prospective donors “aware” of your organization, then you can ask them to give.

Not really true, as Tobin Aldrich’s blog points out at Fundraising Myths: No 2: You can’t fundraise without awareness.

Two-step fundraising is a colossal waste of money. You basically double your cost and get nothing in return:

The first thing any non-profit should do is fundraise. When you fundraise you tell people about your cause, you make them care about it and they give you money as a result. And do you know what, you raise money and awareness too. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

That’s right: awareness in an abstract, non-action way does almost nothing to move a person closer to giving. Asking sparks both awareness and giving. In one step.

For the small number of nonprofits that have extremely high awareness, that awareness is a real asset. For the rest of us, the cost of buying awareness is not worth it. Or necessary.

Effective fundraising is the best form of nonprofit branding. People who give to your cause are the ones who know you best.


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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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