The habit many nonprofits seem to pick up from Donald Trump

It was one of those weird little news items that make you shake your head and move on. But it caught The Agitator’s attention, at Are You Giving Your Donors the Trump Treatment?

Donald Trump spoke at a memorial service for Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, half of a pro-Trump duo called Diamond & Silk.

When he got up to speak, here’s what he said:

I thought I knew them both, I didn’t. I knew Diamond, but I didn’t know Silk at all. I just learned about Silk. You’re fantastic, you’re going to carry on beyond, beyond anybody’s wildest imaginations.

(Both Diamond and Silk had been frequent White House visitors.)

Weird, right? You have to wonder how he could get the relationship so wrong.

Until you realize mainstream and otherwise professional fundraisers do stuff like that to their own donors all the time. As the Agitator put it:

[They] detail dry and dusty statistics, claims of numbers of Ph.Ds on their staffs, and on and on. Everything except the central importance of the donor to accomplishing the mission.

Sound familiar? The use of irrelevant jargon. The need to show donors how wrong they are about things. The inattention to what actually makes donors donate. Too many nonprofits don’t have any idea what motivates donors, or how they’d like to connect. They just turn on their motor-mouths without engaging their hearts or minds. Like some politicians do.

So listen to The Agitator:

If you aspire to more loyal donors, higher retention rates, and a better bottom line make all your donor communications — whether appeals, renewals, emails, or annual reports — focus them as a celebration and call to action for your donor heroes and not as a Trump funeral eulogy.


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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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