Things that really don’t matter in fundraising: Part I: Your CEO’s voice

“That doesn’t sound like me!”

It’s one of the top objections nonprofit leaders have about fundraising. I don’t use all those small words, short sentences, and repetition! It just isn’t me.

(I once got a one-sentence email from a CEO that said — and I promise I’m not making this up to try to by funny — I don’t use contractions.)

“That doesn’t sound like me” is one of the top causes of ineffective fundraising.

That’s because — and I say this with all respect and affection for the bosses of the nonprofit world — their voices are terrible. Dry, dull, passionless, unreadable.

To be fair, that’s not just a problem for CEOs. It’s pretty much everyone. To have a clear, attractive, readable, persuasive voice in writing, you have to be a good writer with a perceptive ear, lots and experience, and willingness to revise.

That’s most likely not your boss.

It doesn’t mean your boss is ineffective. It just means she’s normal.

I understand your boss’s discomfort with writing that doesn’t sound like him. I’ve experienced it myself when things were written by someone else for my signature. It just gives you the willies. And you think everyone is going to mock you for putting something out that isn’t in your voice.

But, of course, it doesn’t happen.

The only people who are conscious of voice are writers. And mainly only about their own voice.

Some CEOs are very good writers and really do have a clear voice that they are in control of. Here’s the problem though: often, that strong voice is terrible for fundraising! It’s appropriate for something else, but not for the rigors of fundraising.

If your fundraising is faithful to your CEO’s voice, you will probably raise less money. Is it worth it for what is really just a vanity exercise for the boss?

The job of fundraising is to raise funds.

Not capture your boss in some kind of written-word amber.

If you’re someone who signs fundraising and the issue of voice is bothering you, work hard to think about other things! You can only cause harm to your program.

One of the key attributes of leadership is the ability to give up things you like and hand them over to others to get great things done. That includes your “voice.”


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog