The letter you can write to board members who don’t like your fundraising

Dear Board Members,

Most of you are parents, so I’m pretty sure you’ve read (and read and read and read) that classic of children’s literature, Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss.

Greeneggs

On the remote chance that you haven’t read it, here’s what happens: A creature of indeterminate species named Sam-I-Am harasses another creature of possibly the same indeterminate species (and nameless), trying to persuade it to eat green eggs and ham. The unnamed creature does not like green eggs and ham, and refuses them despite a bewildering array of dining scenarios proposed by Sam-I-Am.

Finally, though, the unnamed creature takes a bite of GE&H and discovers he likes them. He exclaims that he’d eat them anywhere, including in a box, with a mouse, in a tree, etc.

The moral, and forgive me for stating the obvious, is that you don’t know something until you participate in it.

One thing this means to you is this: Your opinions about your organization’s fundraising are meaningless.

Worse than meaningless, actually.

When you say you dislike (or like) something your organization is doing to raise funds, you are no different from the creature loudly proclaiming that he doesn’t like green eggs and ham. You don’t know what you’re talking about!

Have you proclaimed that telephone fundraising is bad, because everybody hates it? Wrong.

Do you tell your fundraising staff not to write long messages because nobody has time to read them? Wrong.

Have you taken a stand against urgency and emotion because it’s just so corny? Wrong.

I could go on. The fundraising professionals on your staff know what they’re doing. (I hope.) You should assume they are working from a position of knowledge, not ignorance. It can be confusing that something like telephone fundraising can be highly effective when you personally hate it.

But think of it this way: As a board member, you live on a steady diet of green eggs Benedict. It’s a little richer than the green eggs and ham that a more typical donor gets. They like green eggs and ham. You would too, if you were them.

But you aren’t them. So please, suspend your opinion. Give your fundraisers the chance to tell you what they’re doing and why. And accept the fact that it may not sound delicious to you.

Sincerely,
[Your name here]

P.S. Sorry to scold you like this. You really deserve a lot of thanks for all you’re doing. Here and there and everywhere.

(This post first appeared on May 24, 2013.)

Need help navigating your “green eggs and ham” issues? Let’s talk! I’m available for free 25-minute coaching sessions. Just click here and directly schedule an online conversation with me or with Sean Triner.


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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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