Educating is not fundraising … so what is?

Educating is not fundraising.

This is a hard truth for many of us, because we know a lot more about our cause, the problems we tackle, and the ways we approach our work. It’s natural to assume that if we can deposit some of the knowledge into donors’ minds, they’ll be more likely to give.

That’s a bad assumption, and it leads to a lot of ineffective fundraising.

Because charitable giving is not a matter of knowledge. It’s a matter of heart-driven action.

Every sentence you spend on teaching donors about the cause is a waste that doesn’t move most donors any closer to giving.

To move donors to action, it’s far better to tell them about things they already know, as explained in this great post on the Better Fundraising Blog: Start on Common Ground.

Here’s the key point:

If you would like your letters and emails to raise more money, they should begin by talking about something the donor already understands, as opposed to asking the donor to learn something new.

This is surprisingly difficult to do. Because in your own head, your knowledge about your cause and your programs is tightly connected to your sense of the need to join the cause.

The more I know, the more I understand, the more I give.

But that’s not how it works with donors. (And it probably doesn’t work that way even with you, it’s an illusion.)

This is why successful fundraising is built around storytelling.

This is why successful fundraising keeps it simple.

This is why we raise the most when we appeal to the donor’s heart.

Education is a very good thing. But it’s not a clear path to giving.


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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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