The worst mistake you can make in fundraising

Here it is: The worst fundraising mistake is confusing yourself with your donors.

This is the error behind nearly all crappy and unsuccessful fundraising.

When you think your donor is you, you’ll spend all your energy marketing to yourself. Which can be fun, but doesn’t work.

Remember that your donor is different from you. She knows less (or rather, she knows different things). She’s probably quite a bit older than you. She’s paying less attention than you are.

When you ignore those differences, you will miss the mark.

The good fundraisers spend a lot of energy getting into the hearts and minds of donors. The amateurs say, “I like it; it must be good.”

(This post first appeared on December 8, 2010.)


Comments

2 responses to “The worst mistake you can make in fundraising”

  1. Jeff, I completely agree with you. I think the problem is that most of us were taught the Golden Rule at a young age: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While it has a nice ring to it, the Golden Rule is far more ego-centric than donor-centered. Unfortunately, many fundraisers continue with this well-intentioned, but misguided, mindset.
    I much prefer the Platinum Rule from Tony Alessandra, PhD, CSP, CPAE: “Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.” Simple. Powerful.
    For more, readers can check-out my own post: https://michaelrosensays.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/stop-following-the-golden-rule/

  2. Jeff, I completely agree with you. I think the problem is that most of us were taught the Golden Rule at a young age: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While it has a nice ring to it, the Golden Rule is far more ego-centric than donor-centered. Unfortunately, many fundraisers continue with this well-intentioned, but misguided, mindset.
    I much prefer the Platinum Rule from Tony Alessandra, PhD, CSP, CPAE: “Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.” Simple. Powerful.
    For more, readers can check-out my own post: https://michaelrosensays.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/stop-following-the-golden-rule/

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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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