Improve your fundraising by improving the story you tell yourself

We all live in stories that we’re telling ourselves, constantly interpreting what happens around us.

You’ve probably noticed that some people tell better stories than others. They see themselves as having purpose, direction, and agency. They’re good at grabbing opportunities. They recover from adversity. They assume others are allies and friends unless proven otherwise.

Organizations do it too.

The stories your organization tells can make the difference between success and failure.

The Better Fundraising Blog proposes some smart organizational stories nonprofit organizations can tell that lead to success, at Two Lessons from 2020.

Here are some stories you can tell:

  • Many of our donors would love to give second, third and fourth gifts.
  • Regardless of what else is happening in the world, our cause is urgent, it matters, and we’re going to fundraise like it.
  • Fundraising is a form of leadership, and we can’t lead if we go silent for long periods of time.
  • Demographics are in our favor this year: if the average age of a donor is 69, that means more than half of donors didn’t have a job to lose, had investments that performed incredibly, had fewer places to spend their money this year, and would love to help.
  • Our donors are adults and have no problem deciding when to give or not give.
  • Giving makes a donor feel great.

These stories have the advantage of being true, but you don’t really get anything from them if you don’t internalize them.

If your fundraising stories are about angry, distracted, hurting donors who don’t want to give or who can’t be bothered to care about your cause …

You’ll make it come true. Your fundraising will be off target, irrelevant to donors, and not frequent enough. I see it happen all the time.

So change the stories your organization tells itself.


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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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