The one thing fundraising should NEVER be about

If only people knew how great our organization is — how superb our programs, and what cool, funny, educated people we are. Everyone would be donating!

You’ve heard it before. Maybe you’ve said it.

I’ve heard it. And said it.

It’s the top delusion in fundraising that drives failure: It’s about us.

It doesn’t work, because charitable giving is about the giver. They give because they want something to happen. Because they want to feel, or do, or know something.

One of the most deadly way we make fundraising about ourselves is trying to show how clever we are.

How well does that work? Read Why sincere is better than clever at Hands-On Fundraising:

Writing to your donors isn’t about you or your organization. Writing to your donors is about your donors. Give them a problem to solve. Let them know you trust their kindness and generosity can help solve it. Step out of the way.

It takes a special kind of patience and humility to practice good fundraising: Turning all the hard work you and your colleagues do into simple stories about what donors can do.

You get tired of it. You want to show them your cool personality. Be clever. Tell jokes. Have an sparkling personality.

But when you do that, giving falls off the cliff.

Because that makes fundraising about the wrong thing.


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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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