[QUIZ] Is that statement of fact trustworthy?

Quiz for fundraising nerds:

Which of the following is a statement of fact?

  1. Nobody reads long direct mail letters any more.
  2. Donors hate the color yellow.
  3. Donors are no longer responding to email fundraising.
  4. If you mail more than three appeals in a year, you will lose donors.

Trick question. None of these are statements of fact. They are hypotheses. Ideas that should be scrutinized before being taken as fact.

When someone tells you one of these things, you should dig deeper: How do you know this to be true?

You will almost always discover that the statement falls in one of these categories:

  • Knowable, and reasonably proven to be true. (Or untrue.)
  • It’s not knowable, because we can’t know what’s in people’s minds, even if we ask them, because they don’t know either. But we can discover what people do in response to what we put in front of them. That’s knowable and important.
  • Possibly true, but the reality is far more complex than the statement.
  • A logical extrapolation from known (or maybe not really known) facts. These may or may not bear up to scrutiny.
  • Personal opinion or wishful thinking.

Do your best to discern the origin of the facts people throw at you. You’ll often find that the most reasonable sounding facts are wild stabs in the dark.

Here are the “answers” to the quiz:

#1: Unknowable. People may or may not reader Long letters. Maybe they never did read them. But we do know that donors respond more to longer letters.

#2: Unknowable. And unlikely. Sure some people may “hate” the color yellow, but the real question is “Do our donors respond to messages that have yellow in them. Some organizations raise a lot of money using the color yellow. Others don’t. Many other things matter more!

#3 Somewhat true. Response to emails has never been high (at least, compared to direct mail), and many emailers have seen that response drop over time. Others have seen improvements, usually because they’ve grown more sophisticated and donor-focused in their emails, and they’re practicing smart integration with other channels.

#4: Almost certainly untrue. There is no “perfect” number of fundraising appeals, but I can tell you, it’s more then three! Don’t fear a mass exodus of your donors. The large majority of them want to give!


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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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