Is your fundraising about as appealing as rotting fish guts?

My cat’s food smells so bad it almost makes me gag. Judging by the odor, it’s “Mixed Rotting Fish Guts.” But the picture on the can looks like a wonderful salmon steak, cooked and ready to eat.

Since I’m the one buying the cat food, the manufacturer knows they’d better appeal to me on the can. Once the can is open, it’s all for the cat. And she looooves Mixed Rotting Fish Guts. It’s the light of all nine of her lives.

That’s a lot like fundraising, as noted by Seth Godin at Cat food is for people:

It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.

Smart fundraising never forgets the distinction between the donor and the recipient. Their needs are not the same.

Does your fundraising insist on selling Mixed Rotting Fish Guts to the people who buy the cat food? Do you focus on your complex methodologies and insider strategies, when your donors want to respond to a much simpler description of your cause?

The cat food companies have figured it out. They package cat food for the buyer. But they formulate the cat food for the cat.

You’ll raise more money if you do the same in your fundraising.


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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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