How to enter your donors’ world

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There’s something amazing about this direct-mail donor acquisition piece from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I’ll bet fundraisers at 8 out of 10 nonprofits would be forbidden by their own brand guidelines from doing the brilliant thing this envelope does.

Can you guess what I’m referring to?

StjudeOE
From the kids of St. Jude…

Think about that. Most nonprofits would insist that the labels in this mailing are not from the kids. “They’re from us, the organization!” Which is literally true in the budget and the who-did-the-work sense.

But in the donors’ world, it really is from the kids.

To St. Jude donors, the “transaction” is between themselves and the kids who are fighting cancer. The hospital is a necessary but secondary party.

This piece acknowledges a truth we should all keep in mind: Donors don’t give primarily to fund organizations. They give to make something good happen (or prevent something bad). They want to help sick children. Not a hospital.

We could say the same thing about the fun cartoon penguins in this package. What do happy penguins have to do with the fight against childhood cancer?

Nothing … and everything. They come straight from the world of the kids, which makes them completely relevant.

Most organizations are so wrapped up in themselves, they’d never be able to do what this package does. And that’s too bad, because they’re raising a lot less than they could.

If you could completely enter the world of your donors and remove your own need to explain (or brag) from your fundraising, what might it look like?

More from the Trove.


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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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