5 secrets to fundraising happiness

Personally, I think working in fundraising is a pretty sweet life. Better than the other careers I’ve explored.

If you’re not getting the most personal fulfillment out of fundraising, here are some things that might help:

1. Respect your craft

If you’re embarrassed to ask for money … if you think direct mail is tacky and awful … if you think fundraising is a necessary evil that besmirches your reputation and annoys donors … well, you aren’t going to be happy in fundraising. Get right with the profession. That’s the only way to do great work, and it’s the best path to personal fulfillment in the job.

2. Concentrate on lifting revenue, not lowering cost.]

Sure, you can increase net revenue by lowering costs. But the rewards of that approach are limited; you can only lower costs so far. A much better way to improve your bottom line is to seek opportunity … be willing to take risks … think like an entrepreneur. It’s more fun than shaving pennies off of your direct mail packages. And it works better.

3. Embrace your right brain

You can raise a lot of money using statistic and logic. That bothers many people in the profession. They spend their entire careers fighting basic human brain structure and try to motivate donors’ left brains into giving. That’s just slamming your head against the wall. It hurts. If you can cultivate a love for the emotional, you’ll raise more money and have a lot more joy in your life.

4. Say thank you

Your mom isn’t the only one who thinks this is a good idea. Donors who are told their gifts are appreciated and their gifts make a difference are stronger donors. Put some energy into thanking donors and reporting back to them the impact of their giving. You’ll feel better about asking when you know you’re going to close the circle by thanking donors.

5. Escape group-think

Imagine a life without ponderous, long meetings. Where great ideas take wing. Where everyone operates in their strength. That’s what you can have if you have decisions and thinking done by individuals and tiny, nimble teams … instead of committees.

(This post first appeared on April 18, 2018.)


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2 responses to “5 secrets to fundraising happiness”

  1. Linnea Avatar

    Love it!

  2. Linnea Avatar

    Love it!

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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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