Here’s one surprisingly effective way to get your fundraising right every time

How real are your donors to you?

It’s so easy to forget that donors are real people — and not you.

Steven Screen, at the Better Fundraising blog describes a pretty cool preventive measure for that, at What A Cardboard Cut-Out Taught Me About Fundraising.

In a past job, they had a life-size cardboard cut-out of an older woman they called Mrs. Johnson. She was a constant reminder of the reality of donors — who are most likely older women. Not young creative professionals.

It’s a great idea, because forgetting that we are not the donor is probably the most common source of ineffective fundraising:

Organizations often write letters and emails that they like. They write a certain way to impress themselves and please the staff or board. They use insider jargon and describe processes that only people in their niche care about.

All of which causes them to raise less money. Because, as a rule, Mrs. Johnson doesn’t care about any of that stuff.

Do whatever it takes to keep yourself aware of your donor — who she is, how she thinks, what she cares about … that is the path to great fundraising!


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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.