How fundraisers can escape the corporate-speak crap-trap

You know that phony way corporations have of talking about themselves? Where it’s all self-centered blather, studded with jargon terms (“stakeholders”) and faddish phrases (“AI”).

If an actual human spoke to you in that language, you’d either try to get away quick, or call 911 for medical help.

You might be talking that way too in your fundraising.

The problem is, we often base our fundraising on the marketing that’s all around us. After all, fundraising is a type of marketing.

What we forget to note is that most marketing is crap. Braggy, empty, boring crap.

It doesn’t influence anyone to do anything. It’s just taking up budget and time because they know they’re supposed to be doing marketing.

How can you make sure you haven’t fallen into the crap-trap?

One way is to think twice about who’s talking when you’re hoping to communicate with donors, as outlined on the Good Works Blog at Stop boasting: how to be authentic and connect with your donors:

If you want to persuade your audience that you’re really great at what you do, you need to re-frame everything from the outside in. By that, I mean that the voices extolling your virtues need to be from OUTSIDE your organization. Most audiences today will trust a donor, a volunteer, or a program recipient as a more authentic voice than your Board Chair or Executive Director.

The minute you put something in the voice of someone who isn’t “official,” you find it easier to sound human and uncrappy. Authentic and believable.

Your donors live in the same sea of crappy marketing that we live in. Most of learned to tune it out. They’re ready to tune you out when you get that corporate voice going.

Two other things you can do to avoid the crap-trap:

  1. Get help from a professional copywriter who knows fundraising. That person (when they’re good, and a lot of them are) will see through your organization’s corporate-speak and give seconds. And fix it for you.
  2. Throw out (or seriously revise) your brand guidelines. It is most likely a guidebook for stilted, self-centered crappy communications!


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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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