How pet peeves create ineffective fundraising

Here’s a great post from Seth Godin — in its entirety:

Peeves make lousy pets.

They’re difficult to care for, they eat a lot, and they don’t clean up after themselves.

(Pet peeves.)

Pet peeves may be one of the most powerful killers of fundraising effectiveness out there. Here’s why:

Peeve-driven decisions about fundraising are most likely wrong — bad for fundraising.

Because your peeve tells you nothing about what actually works or doesn’t work in the real world. Actually, it’s more than that: There’s a good chance your peeve is an indicator of something that does work in the real world.

There are certain fonts that just bug me. They’re ugly and annoying. Complete pet peeves in my world. Yet at least one of the fonts on my hate list consistently does well in fundraising. I have to hold my nose and use that font — if I want to raise more money. Which I do, since it’s the entire premise of my work. My peeve is not important.

We all have certain words, phrases, colors, and things that we hate. We need to learn not to use that personal distaste drive decisions.

Your decisions should be driven by facts about donor behavior:

  • Direct facts that you know empirically because you’ve observed them first-hand.
  • Facts you’ve learned from other experienced fundraisers.
  • Facts you’ve extrapolated from other donor behavior (such as, We get poor results when we ask donors to pay our electricity bill; it’s likely we’ll also do poorly if we ask them to cover our water bill.

“I hate that” is not a fact. The closest it comes to being factual is the strong correlation between things we hate and things that improve fundraising!

Professional fundraisers learn to ignore their own pet peeves. Strive for that Zen-like detachment from your own desires. It’s a path to success!

(This post first appeared on November 10, 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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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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