5 common irrelevant fundraising topics — and what to say instead

Here are some common topics in a lot of fundraising that are irrelevant to donors:

  • The huge size or massive “importance” of the cause. Your donors don’t give because a problem is big or a cause is important. They give to make a difference. Make your fundraising about that difference.
  • The geopolitical and/or historical context of your cause. These things are important for experts to know. Few donors aspire to be experts in your cause. Don’t load them up with extra information. (Those few who want to know more will ask!)
  • Your methodology. Your donors are giving to fund your processes. They’re giving to create outcomes. Focus on that.
  • How your programs are different from others’. That’s “inside baseball” — it’s meaningful to you and your colleagues, but noise to your donors. Tell them what their giving will do.
  • When you were founded (and that includes landmark anniversaries). There’s one slightly useful piece of information contained in the date of your founding — if it’s not too recent: You’ve been around. Not hugely important. And your landmark anniversaries, while worth celebrating internally, are not relevant to your donors

When you focus on irrelevancies like these, you are not communicating. You might as well be whistling an aimless tune, because you’re not connecting with donors.

Instead, focus on things that are relevant to them. Such as:

  • What specifically the donor can do through your organization to make the world more like they want it to be.
  • How much it will cost to make some kind of difference.
  • How much impact can the donor have.
  • How does doing so accord with her values?
  • How she can be assured this whole thing isn’t a scam.
  • What’s in it for her?


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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.

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