Fundraiser: Don’t “be yourself” — be your donor

Every so often, I’ll read a blog post titled something like “9 ways to write better fundraising.”

I love pieces like that, because I’m fascinated by what people consider “short-list” critical elements for success. And as often as not, I learn something from those lists.

The thing that dismays me is how often one of those 9 ways to write better fundraising is something like Find your voice. Or Be Yourself.

Because “Be Yourself” is terrible advice for writing good fundraising.

Nobody gives a rip about your voice. Except maybe your mother and your creative writing mentor. And Mom is faking it.

Good fundraising is not a mirror that reflects your beliefs and excellence. It’s a mirror that reflects your donors’ values and excellence.

That’s why Being Yourself when you write fundraising is such terrible advice.

When you try to Be Yourself, you’ll always say the wrong things. Things you think are persuasive and inspiring. You’ll miss the real reasons donors give.

You’ll badger and lecture and belittle your donors. Not on purpose, but you’ll come across that way because you’re Being Yourself instead of what the donor needs.

Don’t be you — be the donor!

Or be the better angel of the donor’s nature — that smart, centered, moral, voice that whispers good advice in their ear to help them actualize their beliefs and values and be the person they want to be.

Sound like that. Forget being yourself.

(This post first appeared on June 8, 2016)


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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.