False fallacies can hurt you as much as the real ones

The Agitator recently proposed a list of Top Fundraising Fallacies:


  1. Best practice is good enough.
  2. It works for them.
  3. One gift makes a donor.
  4. There are plenty more donors where those came from.
  5. It’s OK, our online fundraising is up.

First, I want to disagree with #1 and #2: They are only fallacies some of the time. Best practice is a heckuva lot better than what many organizations routinely do in their fundraising. What works for others is more likely to work for you than your (or your boss’s) hunch about what should work. The large majority of fundraisers work in quantities too small to make testing a valid way of learning the facts, so doing the proven is necessary. Best practices and imitation will ultimately limit your possibilities, but tossing them out will kill your program before it can get off the ground.

I’d like to propose counter-fallacies for those two that I think are more common and more damaging:


  1. Best practices are bunk; we are smarter than the entire rest of the fundraising industry.
  2. Our donors and our cause are so utterly unique, we shouldn’t even consider doing what works for others.

Now that I got that of my chest, let me add what I think is the biggest, deadliest fundraising fallacy of all:

If everyone knew how awesome our organization is, everyone would donate. If you’re trying to show the world how awesome you are, you’re spinning your wheels. Fundraising is about connecting with the awesomeness of donors, about showing them you offer an outlet for their awesomeness. Bragging is not fundraising!


Comments

2 responses to “False fallacies can hurt you as much as the real ones”

  1. “Our donors and our cause are so utterly unique, we shouldn’t even consider doing what works for others.”
    = nonprofit exceptionalism.

  2. “Our donors and our cause are so utterly unique, we shouldn’t even consider doing what works for others.”
    = nonprofit exceptionalism.

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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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