The two words that can make your fundraising work

Your donors want to make something happen.

I know that sounds obvious, but you’d hardly know that’s what’s going on by looking at a lot of fundraising out there.

A lot (maybe most) fundraising calls on donors to support, join, or partner with an organization.

That’s fine. But that’s not what they’re seeking.

They want to change something. Something specific. Something they care about. Whether it’s feed a hungry person or make sure their favorite opera gets on stage, they want to help make something happen that accords with their values.

That’s why your fundraising needs, as the Bloomerang Blog puts it a theory of change: Your Fundraising Appeal Needs a Theory of Change. A theory of change is just this:

…the reason why taking an action or making a donation might plausibly make a difference about something the audience cares about.

Okay, that might sound a little abstract. It’s really quite easy. As the Bloomerang post notes, all you need to do is “tack on the phrase ‘so that’ after your ask.” Like this:

  • Will you make a gift to supply high-protein emergency food for these children so that they can survive this crisis and reach their full potential?
  • Please donate today to help underwrite the upcoming production of Rigoletto so that you and other opera lovers in the community can experience this inspiring monument to the power of love.

Put action in their hands.

And make sure they know what this particular action means!

That’s how you raise funds.


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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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