How fundraising works: Garbage out, nothing back

When you want donors to donate, all you have to entice them is information: words and images that persuade them giving money will do something that want to do.

Many of the things you and your colleagues may want to say to donors doesn’t do that. It doesn’t persuade. It may be valuable and useful information in different contexts, but it’s garbage in fundraising.

Examples of Garbage Fundraising:

  • Statistics showing your cause is a big deal.
  • The philosophical underpinnings of your organization.
  • The history of your organization.
  • Clever slogans.
  • Brochures.
  • Call-to-action that’s just “support us” — not to actual action.
  • Stories and photos of your amazing success. (This “garbage” turns into fundraising gold after the donor gives.)

If you send donors those things, you can expect little back from them. Because you aren’t holding up your end of the “deal” — which is to put a toolkit for action in their hands.


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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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