The one thing you most need to know about fundraising

There’s just one rule for successful fundraising?

Could be. Here’s what The Better Fundraising Blog says that rule is, at The Only Rule?

The people who are successful don’t care whether they like the fundraising or not.

They just care if it works.

This is true.

In fact, let me take it one step further with an addendum to the rule:

Successful fundraising will make many organization insiders uncomfortable — or even hopping mad.

It always does.

I wish it weren’t so, because it makes life very difficult. And it causes thousands of organizations to raise a lot less money than they should.

What is it about fundraising that we tend to dislike? Here’s a list from the Better Fundraising post:

  • Including a reply card with your receipt letter
  • Writing at a lower grade level
  • Using emotion liberally
  • Being repetitive
  • Sharing real needs with donors

Let me add a few more:

  • Long messages
  • Underlining in the message
  • Avoiding statistics in favor of anecdotes
  • Informal writing style
  • Direct asking

All these things are part of successful fundraising. And all are frequently challenged by nonprofit insiders … because they don’t like them.

Maybe the rule behind the rule is this:

You are not your donor!


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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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