Here’s what unsuccessful fundraising looks like

Relativity-escher-detail

This is a detail from that famous lithograph by M. C. Escher, Relativity.

I think it’s a perfect picture of ineffective fundraising, and here’s why:

One of the figures is the fundraiser. The other is the donor. They are in the same place, their feet literally on the same steps. They’re even moving the same direction.

But they aren’t in the same world. Each of them is anchored to a different reality, a different gravity. Even though they are right next to one another, they can’t interact in any way.

Have you seen fundraising like this?

Yes, you have: It’s not about anything that connects with the donor’s world. It’s talking to like-minded people with shared values — people who are nearby and moving in the same direction — but it’s anchored in a different reality. When my “down” is at a right angle to your “down,” how can we possibly connect?

It’s when fundraising is about statistics, methodology, how amazing the organization and its people are, how successful and important the work is.

While the donor is in a world where they see problems and opportunities that they want to do something about. They want to take action, not support an organization. They want to put their values to work, not make a process possible.

And so there they are, moving along together, yet not at all together. Miraculously, some donors to manage to reach across the gulf and donate anyway. But mostly, the fundraiser and the donor just silently tread along, so close, yet so far.

It’s our job to get into our donors’ world. To feel their gravity and be where they are. In fact, it’s not that difficult to do. But you have to be aware that until you make the move, you are as eerily trapped in this pointless world as those faceless figures in Escher’s art.


Comments

2 responses to “Here’s what unsuccessful fundraising looks like”

  1. This one is brilliant Jeff!

  2. This one is brilliant Jeff!

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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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