Where to find the Breakthrough Squirrel

Wouldn’t you love to create some kind of breakthrough that would dramatically improve your ability to influence people, raise funds, get volunteers, and change the world?

A lot of smart nonprofits are trying to do just that. Too many of them, though, are barking up the wrong tree. Doesn’t matter how long or loud they bark. It’s the wrong tree. The Breakthrough Squirrel isn’t up there.

Here are some wrong trees

  • Better color pallet, modern-looking fonts, new and improved logo.
  • Really cool mission statement.
  • Tightly defined brand personality.
  • Massive PR and/or advertising campaign.

Here are some right trees

  • Stronger, more specific calls to action.
  • More choice for donors.
  • More authenticity and connection for donors.
  • More thanking and reporting back to donors.

In other words, the Breakthrough Squirrel is up in the Donor Tree. Not the Brand Tree. You’ll catch it by focusing on donors, not inward on yourself.

(This post first appeared on March 23, 2012.)


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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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