Who should sign your fundraising message? (It’s easier than you think)

It’s common for fundraisers to agonize over who should sign their letters and emails.

I have good news for you: It’s not that difficult. Except in very rare cases1, who signs your messages has very little impact on results. You have a lot of choice in this area — if you’re given the choice.

Here’s a simple checklist for deciding who should sign:

Your signer should be…

  • The highest ranking person2
  • Who won’t muck up your messaging3
  • Or destroy your timeline4
  • (Optional) And is willing to share their telephone number with donors5

Footnotes

  1. Sometimes a celebrity or much-admired person is identified with a nonprofit organization. In those cases, that person’s signature adds value to the fundraising because so many people know and trust them. Very rare!
  2. It’s good when the signer has high ranking. It says “we mean it.” But the next three criteria are much more important than the signer’s rank.
  3. I hate to say it, but some nonprofit leaders are highly opinionated micro-managers who don’t know a lot about fundraising. They can devastate fundraising effectiveness with the revisions they require. One way to avoid this is to find someone not as high-ranking, but knowledgeable about fundraising — or at least cooperative.
  4. Another common feature of leaders is they are very busy. Some take weeks to get back to us with permission to use their signature. That’s even more damaging to results than messing up the message. Find a signer who cooperates in a timely manner.
  5. You don’t have to do this, but it’s pretty cool: Being able to say in your message, “If you have any questions or want to know more, you can call me directly. My cell phone number is 000-000-0000.” Some leaders will say, No way, no how to that, fearing a time-sucking avalanche of calls from donors. That won’t happen. Most likely they’ll get between zero and three calls. And the calls will be lovely. But if a potential signer can’t stomach making that invitation, find someone else.


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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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