The bad news about good news in fundraising

Showering donors with tales of your organization’s excellence is not a good way to raise funds. The right way to do it is to make what you have to say into a tale of the donor’s excellence and values.

Let me show you the difference. Here’s a common approach to a fundraising appeal:

Our community center is the best in the county. Spotlessly clean and staffed by top-notch youth-sports professionals, we are a light shining in the inner city, transforming the lives of hundreds of kids every year.

We hope you’ll join this great work.

It feels good to say things like that, but it has nothing to do with the donors you’re hoping to bring on board as partners. They may congratulate you for your excellence, but few of them are going to see past the good news and note that you need them to make it happen.

That’s why your message should be more like this:

Our community center is a special place, a light in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. But there’s a problem: So many kids are coming to us every day, looking for a safe place to hang out, the center is badly overcrowded. We have to turn away kids every day. That means sending them back out to the mean streets.

You can help the kids. Will you send a gift today to help expand the Center — before it’s too late for even one more kid?


Comments

2 responses to “The bad news about good news in fundraising”

  1. Ricardo Lopez Avatar
    Ricardo Lopez

    You’re either an amazing clairvoyant or you are eavesdropping on our office conversations! Your daily posts have been so spot-on — on so many occasions — that it is uncanny! I’ve shared many posts with my coworkers and often say, “This is EXACTLY what we were just talking about!” Thank you for your daily wisdom and insights. They’re worth their weight in gold…

  2. Ricardo Lopez Avatar
    Ricardo Lopez

    You’re either an amazing clairvoyant or you are eavesdropping on our office conversations! Your daily posts have been so spot-on — on so many occasions — that it is uncanny! I’ve shared many posts with my coworkers and often say, “This is EXACTLY what we were just talking about!” Thank you for your daily wisdom and insights. They’re worth their weight in gold…

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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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