8 fundraising errors you can avoid

There are a lot of ways fundraising messages to wrong and fail to move donors to action.

Here are 8 common ways things go sideways, from the For Impact Blog at 8 Common Messaging Challenges:

  1. Engagement starts at the wrong altitude. Donors give to make specific good things happen. We don’t win their action by telling them about our overall strategy for saving the world. You get stuck trying to teach them about your strategies before you can get around to talking about action. You lose them long before you get there!
  2. No simplicity. If you can’t keep your message simple, you will not get many donors to pay attention.
  3. No engagement. You aren’t putting your work in the context of their lives and values.
  4. No funding rationale. You tell them you need money (and often how much you need), but you don’t connect the need or the solution to the donor.
  5. No WOW. If you want action, you have to have a message that’s one of the top two or three cool things they see today.
  6. Story is not awesome. Many fundraising stories are just dull, over-complex, burdened with details, and too long. Or not long enough.
  7. Framing is about the INCOME. Not the IMPACT. When you make it all about money, you are easy to ignore. Make it about their opportunity to make the world a better place, you become fascinating.
  8. All CAUSE, no CASE. That is, you’re talking only about the problem, not the solution.


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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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