4 ways your insider experts are radically wrong about fundraising

A lot of fundraising projects devolve into a protracted battle between fundraising specialists and the experts who run nonprofit programs.

Those experts are typically the heroes of the organizations — and they should be.

But they seldom know much about fundraising, and their objections to your messaging are frequently badly off-base. If you follow their advice, you will raise less money.

Here’s a post from the Better Fundraising Blog, What About Internal Experts Who Don’t Like Fundraising Offers? that gives some of the common expert objections to fundraising.

You’ve probably seen most of these too:

  1. That’s not the whole picture. No, it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. Donors don’t need to be experts, and trying to educate them is one of the most ineffective ways to raise funds. They don’t have time for the big picture.
  2. But if our donors knew more about what we do, they would give more. Actually, probably not. Most donors are only going to pay attention to your messaging for few seconds. If we use that precious tiny window telling them a lot of cool facts, they won’t get to the part they need: What do you want me to do?
  3. This is too emotional. This is the effectiveness killer. Your experts know what they’re doing, and they (I hope) have a solid intellectual grasp of what their programs are about. But donors don’t give out of a solid understanding. They give when their hearts are moved. Trying to reach them with a bunch of facts and stats doesn’t work.
  4. But we need to tell donors how effective we are. Yes, they need to know you’re effective, but your effectiveness is very low among their motivators. And when you spend your precious few moments on your effectiveness, you’re talking about yourself, not about the difference they can make.

It’s a challenge to push back against these excellent people. But if your job is to motivate donors to donate, you need to do just that! Remember, it’s the donors who make the work possible.


Comments

2 responses to “4 ways your insider experts are radically wrong about fundraising”

  1. Larissa Peters Avatar
    Larissa Peters

    Very true! We actually recently encountered a 5th one online: SEO – adding search terms that the experts were slightly uncomfortable with. The search term was too broad and he was worried that the donor searching would make some assumptions about our programs.

  2. Larissa Peters Avatar
    Larissa Peters

    Very true! We actually recently encountered a 5th one online: SEO – adding search terms that the experts were slightly uncomfortable with. The search term was too broad and he was worried that the donor searching would make some assumptions about our programs.

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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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