Things that really don’t matter in fundraising: Part 10: your board

The members of your board are lovely people. (Most of them, anyway.) You owe them real gratitude for their service and support. I hope you’re doing everything you can to make sure they feel the love.

But one thing you should not do is list their names on your appeal letter.

It’s sad to say, but a list of board member names is noise.

And noise — distraction away from the action you want donors to take — is bad for response.

I’ve heard three common reasons fundraising give for listing board members on appeal letters:

  1. It’s on our letterhead. It’s okay to list board members on your letterhead, making them part of day-to-day personal correspondence. But direct-mail fundraising is a much more difficult atmosphere, where the main challenge is to get and keep attention. Create a less-distracting version of you letterhead for fundraising.
  2. Donors might see a familiar name and be inspired to give as a result. This could happen, and the smaller and more connected your donor base, the more likely. Most often, there’s one person on a board (if any) who’s likely to inspire support. I’m talking a Jimmy Carter (or the Jimmy Carter of your town). If so, maybe that person should sign the letter, not just show up in a list of people.
  3. We should recognize our donors in public to reward their service. You should recognize donors. But don’t do so with an action that will lower revenue, thus undercutting their very reason for serving.

The best fundraising is fanatically focused on donor action. Everything that doesn’t push that agenda should go!


Comments

2 responses to “Things that really don’t matter in fundraising: Part 10: your board”

  1. Michelle Tribe Avatar
    Michelle Tribe

    THANK YOU. I used to donate to an organization that I really believed in and had a family affiliation with. I was becoming disenchanted as I had never received a “thank you” in the eight years I was a monthly donor with them. The final straw was this summer, when the latest newsletter was a glossy, 16-page, full-colour spread introducing the current board of directors. If I had wanted a copy of “Board Directors Illustrated” I would have subscribed.
    I cancelled my monthly donation and found another cause to support.

  2. Michelle Tribe Avatar
    Michelle Tribe

    THANK YOU. I used to donate to an organization that I really believed in and had a family affiliation with. I was becoming disenchanted as I had never received a “thank you” in the eight years I was a monthly donor with them. The final straw was this summer, when the latest newsletter was a glossy, 16-page, full-colour spread introducing the current board of directors. If I had wanted a copy of “Board Directors Illustrated” I would have subscribed.
    I cancelled my monthly donation and found another cause to support.

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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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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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