The surprising and life-transforming secret to being a better fundraiser

If you’re a fundraiser, and you don’t give to charities yourself, you are only half a fundraiser.

You’ll never be fully effective. You may be blessed with intelligence, imagination, and insight — but a fundraiser who isn’t a donor is no better than a parrot, or a machine.

Charitable giving is an act of the heart. And the heart, as Pascal noted, has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. If your heart is inexperienced in the act of giving, the entire enterprise of fundraising and giving will be opaque to you. Donors live in the Garden; you inhabit a sterile office cubicle. The ways they think and act are almost meaningless to you.

That’s why nondonor fundraisers are prone to boneheaded errors of judgment and perception. The most common error is thinking donors don’t like to give. They assume that fundraising is a zero-sum game, where we remove resources from donors, leaving us enriched and donors depleted and annoyed. That’s not at all what happens! If you’re a donor, you know you’re out a few bucks after giving, but in every other way, the ways that matter, you get the sweeter end of the deal.

A second common error is thinking fundraisers should “teach” donors into giving, that we should avoid messy, untrustworthy emotional appeals. These fundraisers adapt a cool, journalistic, detached style of fundraising. They have no idea how irrelevant and off-putting it is.

Both of these errors lead to not asking enough, not asking with passion and clarity, and failing to connect with what really makes donors give.

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These are basic, revenue-crushing errors that happen all the time. Fundraisers who don’t participate make these errors again and again. They can’t properly diagnose their shortcomings, so they often enter feedback loops that drive their results down: they think donors aren’t giving because the fundraising is too emotional … so they make it less emotional … so the donors respond less. It goes around and around, getting worse as it goes.

If that’s you, it’s time to take the step and start giving. If your income is low, give small amounts. If you don’t have a cause you love, find one you like. It’s smart to give to your own organization, but it’s not necessary. Just give.

It will change your fundraising. And your life.

(Excerpted from The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand by Jeff Brooks.)


Comments

2 responses to “The surprising and life-transforming secret to being a better fundraiser”

  1. Nicole Malina Avatar
    Nicole Malina

    Brilliant post!

  2. Nicole Malina Avatar
    Nicole Malina

    Brilliant post!

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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.