How to avoid the nightmare of “Stepford Fundraising”

You’ve heard of The Stepford Wives. It’s a 1972 novel, with a couple of movie adaptations.

Just to refresh your memory: It’s about a town where the women are being replaced by “perfect” robots. Of course by the end, we realize those perfect robot women are actually kind of a nightmare.

If The Stepford Wives had been an Aesop Fable, it might have had a moral like this: Human beings are never perfect. And that’s what makes us interesting.

Are you practicing “Stepford Fundraising”?

Ignoring what’s wrong and broken and in need of change, and instead only showing your donors the awesome, amazing, perfect work your organization does.

Sure, it feels a lot better to talk about that.

But it’s not real. There’s not enough humanity in that to build a real relationship with donors who want to change the world.

So talk about the world. The real world. Problems. Pain. Imperfection.

And then encourage donors to help you solve those things.

That’s real life.

So much better than the fake robot version.

And better fundraising.


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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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