What to do if your fundraising is boring

Excerpted from my book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving.

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How many nonprofits have boring missions?

To judge by any random sampling of fundraising you might look at, it seems about half of them have soul-crushingly dull missions.

I know that’s not correct.

I don’t think there’s any such thing as a boring nonprofit mission. Not all of them stir my soul, and a few of them couldn’t keep me awake with a box full of party noisemakers.

But that tells you more about me than it does about them. Even those I can’t stomach have missions that are exciting and relevant — for somebody.

So where does all that boring fundraising come from?

It’s that way because its creators are communicating with themselves, not their donors. They’re failing to reach outside their own perception and connect with what their donors know and care about. And that’s about as interesting as listening to that weird guy on the bus muttering to himself.

Here’s a quick look at the difference between boring, self-centered fundraising and being interesting and relevant to donors:

The Boring Way The Interesting Way
Numbers: We were founded in 1952 with just two staff. Since then, we’ve grown to 64 FTEs who serve more than 1,200 beneficiaries during any given week. Stories: The night before we met John, he tried to drink himself to death.
Processes: Our three-step counseling system heals our clients physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Outcomes: John spent years as a hopeless alcoholic, a drain on our community. Now he’s free from drink, a good dad, a taxpayer, somebody you’d be glad to call a friend or neighbor.
Philosophy: We believe … Action: You can accomplish …
First person: I, We Second person: You (the donor)

To be interesting to others, you have to see from their perspective.

Not everyone has causes like sick children, abandoned puppies, or natural disasters with lots of innocent victims. But let me tell you a disturbing secret: I’ve worked with organizations with wonderful causes like those — and many of them were hellbent on removing those things from their fundraising — because it was so important for them to talk to themselves, about their processes and philosophies.

If your mission is boring, it’s your own fault.

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand is available at:


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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.