Those things you know to be true sometimes aren’t

What do you assume to be true about donors?

Is it a provable truth, or just an assumption?

Knowing the difference is the key to success in fundraising. (Or just about any undertaking.)

Here’s some help from the 101 Fundraising Blog on getting away from those assumptions that could be undermining your work, at Making assumptions — a fast track for failure:

  • Get into the habit of checking with yourself and asking, “What am I assuming here – what proof do I have?”
  • Test out your assumptions. For example, ask your supporters why they support you and get to know them better.
  • Test your assumptions in a real environment because what people say and what people do can be two different things.
  • Always remember that you are not your target audience, and politely remind your internal teams including your chief executive of this.
  • Have an abolishing assumptions session with your team. Spend 30 minutes listing all the assumptions you make in your fundraising and then come up with some ideas about how to test them.

The hard thing about assumptions is they hide in plain sight. It takes real effort to recognize them for what they are.

The more strongly you believe something, the more the danger it’s an unexamined assumption.


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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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