Fundraisers: beware the boss’s spouse

The most dangerous enemy of your fundraising program is your executive director’s spouse.

It’s not that he or she is hostile to your fundraising; an attitude of earnest support is far more likely. The problem is the director’s spouse carries a toxic combination of ignorance and authority. She is going to lead you astray, but you can’t ignore her.

Like almost anyone who looks at fundraising materials out of context, the boss’s spouse has nothing to go on other than personal taste. Thoughts like I like it or This is ugly tell you nothing about potential fundraising success. Those are the exact wrong criteria. And the spouse is probably the wrong person — demographically, psychographically, and almost every possible way.

In fact, the executive director’s spouse is so consistently wrong about fundraising, you could use him as a counter-indicator: The boss’s husband loves it! We’re screwed! Back to the drawing board!

So be polite while he tells you what he thinks of your fundraising piece. But don’t follow his recommendation!

(This post first appeared on February 24, 2010.)


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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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