Things fundraisers can learn from Donald Trump

This post is not an endorsement of the candidacy of Mr. Trump!

He knows his audience — and speaks their language.

He is focused on a specific group of people, and he says what they want to hear. He’s so well focused on his audience that people outside that group are flabbergasted; they can’t figure what the appeal is. When you really embrace a group, you are excluding those that aren’t in the group.

That’s a good fundraising tactic. Know your audience. Understand what they care about. Know how they think and talk. Talk to them about the things they care about, and do it in their language.

He understands the power of emotion.

He’s not wasting his time with complicated rational cases.

That’s good fundraising. People give from their hearts, not their heads. Your slam-dunk arguments for your cause don’t bring in the revenue.

He grasps the importance of a good enemy.

People are far more stirred up by the prospect of defeating an enemy than they are by keeping things going.

That’s also good fundraising. Give your donors problems to solve, not successful programs to fund.

He doesn’t care what people say.

Trump gets a lot of criticism. He make take it personally, but it’s not making him change his ways.

Good fundraising generates complaints. Smart fundraisers are a lot more concerned about whether it raises funds than what people have to say about it.

Things fundraisers should not learn from Donald Trump

Don’t ever, ever lie. It’s wrong, and it hurts everyone, including you, eventually.

And don’t be a bully or a jerk. That’s a terrible way to live.


Comments

8 responses to “Things fundraisers can learn from Donald Trump”

  1. REALLY??!!! The LAST person I would EVER want to replicate was Donald Trump. BAD FORM on your part.

  2. REALLY??!!! The LAST person I would EVER want to replicate was Donald Trump. BAD FORM on your part.

  3. You can learn something from everyone! Great list!

  4. You can learn something from everyone! Great list!

  5. Larissa Avatar

    Yeah, Jeff, I may have to agree with the above comment. I see what you’re trying to do – but I know you have a lot of other content to write about and other great advice, you don’t necessarily need the SEO to write about Trump.

  6. Larissa Avatar

    Yeah, Jeff, I may have to agree with the above comment. I see what you’re trying to do – but I know you have a lot of other content to write about and other great advice, you don’t necessarily need the SEO to write about Trump.

  7. Jeff, I appreciate your consistently valuable insights, especially those involving either sensitive topics or metaphors, like this one. So many non-profits (and presidential candidates) face/ignore opportunity costs stemming from low-risk, watered down, overly-positive messaging.
    Of course, you expected this comparison to raise hackles, which it has. Even with a disclaimer at the top, the order in which you presented this list made it arguably more interesting, albeit too emotional for some.
    Speaking rationally, my one quandary is understanding how essential the final characteristics on your list are to Trump’s success. At what point does a non-profit’s emotionally-charged messaging to a narrow audience begin to undermine its growth potential or core values? With many months left in the presidential campaign, we will find out if Trump can identify that balance for himself and his audience. He’ll either adapt his approach for long-term sustainability or roll the wrong way with the punches by ignoring the power of progression.
    Either way, his mere presence has and will continue to instigate controversy. I just hope our communities will answer the emotional questions it raises in informed and egalitarian ways. Because information transparency falls so often on the shoulders of non-profit organizations, our work couldn’t be more important.

  8. Jeff, I appreciate your consistently valuable insights, especially those involving either sensitive topics or metaphors, like this one. So many non-profits (and presidential candidates) face/ignore opportunity costs stemming from low-risk, watered down, overly-positive messaging.
    Of course, you expected this comparison to raise hackles, which it has. Even with a disclaimer at the top, the order in which you presented this list made it arguably more interesting, albeit too emotional for some.
    Speaking rationally, my one quandary is understanding how essential the final characteristics on your list are to Trump’s success. At what point does a non-profit’s emotionally-charged messaging to a narrow audience begin to undermine its growth potential or core values? With many months left in the presidential campaign, we will find out if Trump can identify that balance for himself and his audience. He’ll either adapt his approach for long-term sustainability or roll the wrong way with the punches by ignoring the power of progression.
    Either way, his mere presence has and will continue to instigate controversy. I just hope our communities will answer the emotional questions it raises in informed and egalitarian ways. Because information transparency falls so often on the shoulders of non-profit organizations, our work couldn’t be more important.

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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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