The hard part of fundraising: getting attention (the money is the easy part)

It was one of those hairy mornings, when every other email contains something that urgently required my attention. I was trying hard to stick to the in-box plan of do, delegate, or delete. Which is darn hard to practice. I often end up taking a fourth option, delay. Which is supposed to mean Get back to it later. But it really means Ignore it until you forget about it. (It’s not good time management; I bet you do it too!)

Then I came to an email from the executive director of an organization where I was on the board. He was asking me to make a donation of a type that’s important and interesting to me.

I closed the message and moved on. Delay.

Probably ignore. Probably never respond, and not do the thing I was inclined to do.

Basically, a big fat no.

Even though I had no intention of saying no.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it.

It wasn’t that I was annoyed because the organization sent me too much mail.

I ignored the message because I was busy. That’s all.

Because, like most people, time is my most rare and precious resource. Using my time correctly is a constant struggle.

It’s pretty easy to give away some money. It’s hard to spend the time it takes to do so.

I think this is one of the main reasons for declining response rates in fundraising.

But as soon as you realize this about donors, you can think about them differently. They want to give. They have the capacity to give. They’re rooting for you and your cause.

They just rarely have the time it takes to pay enough attention to follow through with a donation.

It’s hardly at all about money. It’s about time and attention.

Fundraise into that reality. Fight valiantly to be worth their time and attention. And then you can raise a lot more money.


Comments

2 responses to “The hard part of fundraising: getting attention (the money is the easy part)”

  1. A terrific post, hitting on the ‘real life’ issue of time and busyness. Even the simplest online form takes effort to fill out and give.
    We must never presume people must expend no effort to do what we want them – and what they want – to do.

  2. A terrific post, hitting on the ‘real life’ issue of time and busyness. Even the simplest online form takes effort to fill out and give.
    We must never presume people must expend no effort to do what we want them – and what they want – to do.

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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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