Don’t miss this post about Taylor Swift’s legs

by guest blogger Andrew Rogers

I wrote a year or so ago about writer and philosopher Alain de Botton and the usefulness of some of his writing for fundraisers.

Now, in connection with the publication of his new book The News: A User’s Manual, de Botton has created The Philosopher’s Mail, a mock news site intended to make us think about the news and how we relate to it.

One of the “stories” there is particularly relevant: Swift’s legs beat arctic melt.

De Botton addresses something all fundraisers have to face: the frustrating but undeniable fact that important-but-unappealing stories like global climate change are less “captivating” to most readers than are unimportant-but-appealing things like, say, singer Taylor Swift in short pants.

But we cannot badger, hector, or shame people into caring more about the things we care about, for the simple reason that it’s so easy to ignore us: discard our letters, delete our e-mails, change the channel on our spots.

So what do we do? De Botton writes:

[T]he starting point has to be indulgence towards the way our minds work. We are interested in Taylor Swift’s legs not because we are evil – but because we are wired in unhelpful ways. If we are going to be interested en masse in the defrosting poles, we need to take our fragilities on board and therefore get serious, very serious, about trying to make important news not just ‘important’, but also beguiling — almost as tempting to hear about as Taylor’s legs. Then things stand a chance of changing.

How do you make your cause “beguiling”? By telling powerful human stories instead of shoveling statistics. By offering a believable solution. And most of all, by focusing on the donor and her power to create the world she wants to live in. Then things stand a chance of changing.


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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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