5 rookie mistakes fundraisers sometimes make

  1. Plural audience. When you sit down to write, you might be thinking about that mailing list of 35,000 people, and come up with a sentence like this: Some of you might be wondering how we’re going to complete this project. Oops. Rookie mindset. The professional visualizes one person and writes to that one individual.
  2. Plural writer. Just as you write to one person, you are also one person writing. The Rookie mindset gets muddled by the fact that several people are involved in the writing of the message, so they use an editorial we that depersonalizes the message: We know you might be wondering how we’re going to complete this project.
  3. Neglecting to show need. Donors act when they see a wrong they can right. Showing them the problem already solved blocks the motivation to give.
  4. Whining. Yes, fundraising is hard work. Not enough people respond to your best work. It’s okay to complain about that with your colleagues. Don’t make whining part of your fundraising. It’s incredibly unmotivating.
  5. Doh! I forgot to ask! This is the mother of fundraising rookie mistakes, and it gets made by a lot of non-rookies too. When you want people to give, you’ve got to actually ask. As in, Please send a gift. Hinting at it doesn’t do it. Ask more than once, and you shall receive.

(This post first appeared on May 24, 2017.)


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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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