Why crappy fundraising is a problem for everyone

I got a press release the other day. (Don’t get me started on the blustery folly of emailing press releases to bloggers without knowing what they actually blog about!)

It was from a flack who thought I’d be interested to know that a certain retail brand was doing some cause marketing for Children’s Miracle Network. So far, so good. I hope it works for everyone.

The piece reminded me of an important truth: If you want to raise funds, ask a fundraising professional. Because nonprofessionals can get it so spectacularly wrong.

This press release, trying to persuade readers to make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network through this particular retail chain, raised this question: Why is this donation important? and answered it with this series of facts:

  • 62 children enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital every minute
  • By the time you’ve read this email, more than 100 sick or injured children will need your help
  • Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals support 170 children’s hospitals across North America
  • 1 in 10 kids in North America is treated by a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital each year
  • Since 2011, [Retail Brand] has raised over $6 million for CMN Hospitals

Not one of those things is a reason for someone to give. They tell us that the need is really, really big. And that the retailer has given a ton of money.

Those are both reasons not to give.

Which his what you’re likely to get when you put a nonprofessional on the job.

Now if you gave me the job of repairing a nuclear power plant, and told me to do whatever seems to make sense to me to make the repairs … we’d soon see another Chernobyl. Because I don’t know anything about nuclear power plant repair. My instincts would tell me absolutely nothing useful about what I should do.

Fortunately, almost nobody is foolhardy enough to give me that assignment.

But a of people are exactly foolhardy enough to give the job of fundraising people who are no more qualified to do it than I am to keep a reactor on line.

Okay, bad fundraising doesn’t exactly blanket the region with deadly radiation. But there’s so much crappy, unprofessional fundraising everywhere that a lot of would-be donors rarely encounter real fundraising: The kind that helps them care about an issue and to see how they can put their values into action and be a hero by donating.

So they never give. Worse, they learn to ignore fundraising in general because it’s seemingly always irrelevant. So causes don’t get the support they need. And would-be donors never fully actualize as the heroes they long to be.

So if you need some fundraising, get a fundraiser involved. Because it matters.


Comments

2 responses to “Why crappy fundraising is a problem for everyone”

  1. Gail Cedar Face Avatar
    Gail Cedar Face

    Thank you for the information in this piece, but you have a lot of Type Os that need correcting.

  2. Gail Cedar Face Avatar
    Gail Cedar Face

    Thank you for the information in this piece, but you have a lot of Type Os that need correcting.

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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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