The heartbreak of “Wimpy-style” fundraising

Some fundraisers struggle with the belief that asking for money is a roadblock to their relationship with donors, a necessary evil that makes the real thing more difficult.

Wimpy

As if they are Popeye’s weird friend Wimpy who constantly asks for money so he can buy a hamburger. He’s really a pest, isn’t he? Always swinging the conversation around to the funds he needs. I imagine Popeye and Wimpy’s other pals feel like hiding when they see him. He’s boring, self-centered, and a real energy drain.

Don’t be like Wimpy. Your fundraising shouldn’t be that way — a bad habit that gets in the way of a meaningful relationship. Your asking (and thanking, and reporting back — and listening) can and should be a welcome relationship for your donors. If it isn’t, you’re getting it wrong.

If you feel like you’re Wimpy to your donors, you are in a sad place. Because if you think that, you are likely making it so.

Here are some tips for avoiding the Curse of Wimpy, from the Better Fundraising Blog, at The Fundraising IS the Relationship.

Here are things you can do to make your relationship with donors mutually satisfying and not like Wimpy:

  • Fundraising that’s mostly about what she cares about (your beneficiaries and what she can do or has done to help), and less about your organization.
  • Fundraising that regularly shows up in your donor’s life.
  • Fundraising that focuses more on the donor’s role and less on the organization’s role.
  • Fundraising that’s written to make it easy for a donor to understand.

And let me add two-way communication that encourages donors to talk back to you.

Poor Wimpy makes the mistake of making every conversation about himself and his needs (for hamburgers). No wonder he’s so tiresome.

He’d have better friendships (including more hamburgers) if he focused on his friends instead of himself.

That’s how your relationship with donors should be 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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