The best and worst word in fundraising

There’s a single word that can be one of the worst or one of the best words to use in fundraising.

The word?

WE

Here’s how to make it the worst:

When we means “those of us in the organization” or “the committee that wrote this message.”

When used that way, it’s exclusionary. It sets up the sense that we are an organization, not a person. That we are bigger and more important than you, a mere individual.

That’s not good for fundraising. People don’t give because you are big and important and awesome. They give because you give them an opportunity to put their values to work. They don’t give to your organization; they give through it.

When you use we in a way that excludes them, you miss the whole point.

Here’s how you can make we one of the best words in fundraising:

When we means “you and me — the writer and the reader.”

That’s inclusive. It shows the donor that we’re in it together, a partnership, that she’s needed. That meaning of we us good 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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