How mistakes can make you more money

Do you live in mortal fear of making typos? Don’t. Sometimes mistakes are the best things that can happen in your fundraising.

Most people who’ve been in our business for a few years have can tell stories of mind-blowing errors that drove abnormally strong fundraising performance.

My theory: Many readers, on encountering an error, become very much more attentive. They’re looking for more errors. As a result, they pay a lot more attention to your message. That’s why the mistakes that have the most positive impact are the doozies — the terrible typos that fill our hearts with fear. A minor misspelling buried in a paragraph somewhere is seen by few readers. It can’t do that magic.

Some errors really will kill you: a broken link online. A wrong phone number or PO box in print. That’s why you can’t just be sloppy and hope for the best.

But those crazy errors that are so embarrassing — yet don’t keep people from responding? Those can be your friends.

You might have to do them on purpose from time to time.

(This post first appeared on January 8, 2015.)


Comments

2 responses to “How mistakes can make you more money”

  1. At my public radio station years ago we wanted to experiment with a toll-free number for donors. Our development director set it up and gave the new number to our air talent. Except he transposed two of the numbers, and when our listeners called to make a donation they heard a sexy voice say, “Hello lover!” It’s not exactly the kind of mistake that can help you raise money, but I did wonder if we should start answering the pledge phone by saying, “Hello public radio lover!”

  2. At my public radio station years ago we wanted to experiment with a toll-free number for donors. Our development director set it up and gave the new number to our air talent. Except he transposed two of the numbers, and when our listeners called to make a donation they heard a sexy voice say, “Hello lover!” It’s not exactly the kind of mistake that can help you raise money, but I did wonder if we should start answering the pledge phone by saying, “Hello public radio lover!”

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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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