How to raise more money by making everyone hate your fundraising

Brookslaws

This is one of the most difficult fundamental laws of fundraising, captured in Brooks’ Fourth Law of Fundraising Animosity

There is a direct correlation between the power and effectiveness of fundraising writing and the number of people who hate it.

A Simplification to this troubling law is this:

The better your work, the more complaints you’ll get.

It’s simple and inescapable. It’s probably because the best fundraising is that which taps into the emotional centers of the brain. It stirs action. But in some people, not the action you intend. Instead of being moved to donate, they feel moved to “shoot the messenger” — that is, not to donate to help solve the problem, but to take steps toward keeping the message out of their lives.

This hatred for effective fundraising is most pronounced within nonprofit organizations. (Probably because they’re paying more attention. But it affects outsiders too. Your strongest fundraising pieces will always generate the most complaints from the public. This, of course, feeds the antipathy of the insiders who hate it.

There are several interesting corollaries to this law:

The Offer Corollary

The more effective your fundraising offer, the more likely it is to be considered an abomination by everyone in your organization.

The Brand Corollary

Your most effective fundraising messages are — or soon will be — expressly forbidden by your brand guidelines.

The Important Donor Corollary

The most angry and articulate complaints from donors about fundraising come from long-lapsed low-dollar donors. Your boss will nevertheless consider this person’s complaints to be commandments that must be obeyed.

A lot of what it takes to succeed in fundraising is learning to deal with the strange outcomes of the Fourth Law.

More Laws of Fundraising.


Comments

4 responses to “How to raise more money by making everyone hate your fundraising”

  1. Brilliant. So true!
    Let me suggest another:
    The Inverse Ratio of Complaints to Results
    Your board or manager will want to shut down a fundraising campaign over a small number of complaints and ignore the large number of actual donations.

  2. Brilliant. So true!
    Let me suggest another:
    The Inverse Ratio of Complaints to Results
    Your board or manager will want to shut down a fundraising campaign over a small number of complaints and ignore the large number of actual donations.

  3. Beg to differ. I agree 99% of the time. But there was a direct mail I sent once about treatment failure for HIV/AIDS that was so hard-hitting, response was down 25%.
    So there really is a line you can cross too far.

  4. Beg to differ. I agree 99% of the time. But there was a direct mail I sent once about treatment failure for HIV/AIDS that was so hard-hitting, response was down 25%.
    So there really is a line you can cross too far.

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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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