Do you want partners or admirers?

Here’s the opening line of a direct mail fundraising piece I just got:

Thanks to the steadfast support of our donors and volunteers, the hard work of our staff, and the bravery of our clients, [Organization] is thriving.

It goes on like that. Most of the letter is the story of someone the organization helped. The story has a satisfying ending. They did a great job, and they’re justly proud.

This organization wants people like me to think they’re competent, on top of things, and doing great work.

Which I do.

The theory, I suppose, is that people who admire an organization are more likely to donate. That’s no doubt true, up to a point. A natural response to this letter would be: Keep up the good work!

That’s nice. But it’s not why the organization went to the trouble and expense of sending me a letter. They were hoping I’d donate. I know because they included a reply device.

Thing is, they’ve given no reason to donate.

If they want donations, they need to seek partners, not admirers.

Partners who want to join you in solving a problem they care about. To do that, you need to show them the problem, and how they can be part of the solution. It’s best if you give them a sense of what their donation can do by putting a “price tag” on their part of the solution. And your the story you tell should be about a problem waiting for a solution — not something you’ve already taken care of.

It’s nice to have admirers. But admiration is at least a step away from a donation.

Seek partners.


Comments

2 responses to “Do you want partners or admirers?”

  1. Paul Bobnak Avatar
    Paul Bobnak

    Could not agree more – and this is something I see all too often.

  2. Paul Bobnak Avatar
    Paul Bobnak

    Could not agree more – and this is something I see all too often.

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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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