Get used to hokey fundraising

Nearly everyone I know in the nonprofit fundraising industry is smart and/or well-educated. That’s why we have such a hard time with a fundamental truth: Hokey fundraising is effective.

By “hokey” I mean: simplistic, loud, goofy, old-fashioned, and unstylish. It’s a word that lumps together a handful of undesirable traits that happen to work well.

It’s so frustrating! We’re smart people. We can create beautiful and intellectually stimulating messages that look so good in our portfolios. But they just don’t work as well as the hokey ones!

Direct-response fundraising (direct response anything, including digital) is tough that way. We have to create messages that we don’t really like. That we’re not really proud to show off. The kind of stuff we used to sneer at before we knew about things like response rates and net revenue.

There’s only one thing to do: Get over it. Fundraising is not about you, your taste, or your reputation; it’s about connecting with donors on their terms.

My advice: Learn to love hokey. It has a certain beauty, greatly enhanced by the fact that it brings in more revenue for your cause.


Comments

4 responses to “Get used to hokey fundraising”

  1. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom with us! I tend to be hokey myself naturally (dad jokes galore), but the rest of my team is not. Could you share any data to back up the hokey vs “intellectual” fundraising messages or where to learn more about this concept?

  2. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom with us! I tend to be hokey myself naturally (dad jokes galore), but the rest of my team is not. Could you share any data to back up the hokey vs “intellectual” fundraising messages or where to learn more about this concept?

  3. Laura Speer Avatar
    Laura Speer

    Can you please provide an example of hokey?

  4. Laura Speer Avatar
    Laura Speer

    Can you please provide an example of hokey?

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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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