9 ways to increase the happiness factor of your fundraising

Here’s the most important thing we need to know about fundraising: Nonprofit Fundraisers are in the Happiness Delivery Business (from the Bloomerang Blog).

We aren’t desperately trying to squeeze a few dollars out of reluctant donors. We’re helping fill donors’ lives with joy.

Fundraising works best when you’re aware of that. Here are nine ways to increase the happiness factor in your fundraising:

  1. Help — don’t sell. While fundraising is like selling, there’s a fundamental difference: Your customer gets nothing tangible from the deal. But they get a lot of intangibles. That’s what you’re selling — you’re helping the donor make her life better by helping others.
  2. Wrap rewards for giving into your appeal. Effective fundraising is about solving a problem. That means you need to be clear about the problem and clear about the solution. The donor needs to be able to see both.
  3. Help your donor feel connected to the impact of their giving. That donation is a leap of faith. It’s up to you to make sure they know what they did matters. Be sure to thank them and report back on the real difference they helped make possible.
  4. Give your donor choice. Let the donor own the situation. It’s up to whether they’ll give at all, and if so, how much. They should even have choice about what their gift will do.
  5. Offer your donor empathy. Be human. Listen. Ask questions. Connect. It makes all the difference.
  6. Help your donor achieve meaning in their life. Their gift is an expression of their values. Remind them of that big picture.
  7. Give your donor a shot of dopamine. It feels good to give. It feels best when the ask is emotional, human, and story-based.
  8. Flatter your donor. Everyone has plenty to feel bad about. Fundraising can help remind donors what they should feel good about.
  9. Help your donor feel good about giving. They’ll feel okay if you tell them their giving keeps your organization going. They’ll feel great if you show the impact in the lives of real, individual human beings.

And here’s a little secret: When you focus on your donors’ happiness, you won’t just raise more money … you’ll be happier too!


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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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