When you know what’s best for your donors

Sometimes you see a piece of fundraising that just rubs you the wrong way. Like a very long letter. Or something with especially old-fashioned design. Or something like mailing labels sent to donors.

I hate that! you think, and inwardly vow never to inflict that on your donors.

That’s a big mistake.

Because you should let your donors decide about those things. That’s a foundational truth of fundraising. And a major stumbling block for many in our profession.

It can be hard to believe that something that seems off to you would work very well with donors.

But it happens all the time. It’s one of the reasons fundraising is hard. Your own inner compass — which works well for you in many life situations — is worth almost nothing in fundraising! Arrgh!

Here’s an example of this phenomenon at the Good Works Blog: Let Your Donors be the Jury:

During the pandemic … [some] non-profit leaders … simply ‘knew’ that donors didn’t want to be bothered with fundraising letters … during the crisis. These leaders thought it more prudent to wait until the crisis was over to resume fundraising in the normal way. They were dead wrong.

Those “don’t trouble the donors in this time of crisis” fundraisers are still climbing out of the hole their common sense dug for them.

Fortunately, we belong to a profession that has a body of knowledge and many years of experience. When you encounter one fo those I-hate-it things, you can ask around and at least get a read on its previous use.

Keep your eyes and your heart open. Then let your donors decide what works for them.


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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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