Two ways to super-charge your fundraising

The best way to do better is to offer something better.

That’s as true in fundraising as everywhere else, but to show you what I mean, let me show you something from the world that it better.

Maybe you know about the line of blank notebooks called Moleskine. The small one I use costs around $10. Pretty dumb, huh? I could get a notebook of that size at the drugstore for under $2. Every time I go to a conference I bring home two or three notebooks for free. Yet I shell out ten bucks for a Moleskine.

Because it’s better than the other notebooks in two ways:

1. Better features

  • The paper is acid free, so it won’t turn brown and crumble in a few years.
  • The pages are rounded off, so they don’t get dog-eared.
  • It’s bound so it can lie open flat.
  • There’s a ribbon bookmark.
  • There’s an elastic strap that holds it shut.
  • The oilcloth cover looks and feels nice.

Do those features make it worth the premium price I’m willing to pay? Maybe not, if I was focused on cost. But all together, those features make it a pleasure to use. They make the words I write in the notebook feel more important. I can’t prove it, but I feel my writing is better when I use a Moleskine in the process. (Hint to writers: Give it a try!)

These superior features are an advantage it could lose. Some other manufacturer, could produce a notebook with similar (or even better) features that costs less.

That’s why Moleskine’s second advantage is so important …

2. Better story

This isn’t just any notebook. Moleskine notebooks were supposedly used by some very cool people, like Picasso, Van Gogh, Mallarmé, and Hemingway. The story isn’t about how smart the Moleskine company is. It’s about each person who uses one. When I use mine, I feel connected to a community that I’m happy to be connected to. It reeks of creativity, sophistication, and quality. The features and the story come together to make it almost irresistible.

That combination of better features and better stories is incredibly powerful.

While having better features is an advantage you can lose any time, having a better story is more durable.

Can you do that with your nonprofit mission? Actually improve your fundraising results by having better features and a better story? I think you can:

Better features might be things like these:

  • More specific about what donors’ giving makes possible.
  • More visibly effective than other organizations.
  • Better fundraising offers that leverages donors’ gifts.
  • More visible impact than others?
  • More empowerment for donors.
  • More donor love and service.

Better stories might be things like these:

  • You connect with the donor’s aspirations better than others.
  • You connect to a great heritage that donors are proud to be part of.
  • Amazing origin (or re-origin) story that people remember and love.
  • A stated aspiration that donors are excited to be part of, that make even a small donation feel like part of something important and exciting.
  • You have amazing spokespersons (living or dead).
  • Your giving affirms a donor’s beliefs about herself.

The story is a lot more difficult than the features! It takes incredible creative muscle, amazing leadership, focus, and probably time.

Figure these things out — and make them so — and you’ll be on the path to an amazing future!


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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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