The amazingly good news about inclusive fundraising

When my now-adult kids were in school, they were good students who did pretty well.

One day, notice came from the school that the kids with learning and attention issues — who had previously been in separate classes — would be joining the regular classrooms.

The parents of the “regular” kids freaked out. They didn’t want their own kids to find themselves languishing in “dumbed-down” classes that were no longer focused on them. I’m ashamed to say I was part of the freak-out. I was afraid the change meant my kids’ education was about to get a lot worse.

Please cut me some slack for my stupid reaction to that situation. Because if you don’t know any better, it seems intuitively correct that changing the way you teach to accommodate those with special needs would make your teaching less effective for the other students … that the students without special needs end up with the bad side of a compromise.

That’s not what happens.

Research shows that an inclusive classroom that works to teach students with a wide variety of learning needs is better for all the students.

There is similar research and thinking in architecture and design: Create a space the accommodates those who need it, and that space will be better for everyone.

The concept is called Universal Design. It basically means this: Respect, include, and welcome all, and you’ll be serving everyone better.

We should thinking this way in fundraising. For (at least) these three reasons:

  1. Most of us think inclusivity is a basic ethical requirement. It’s simply the right thing to do.
  2. In many places, you are breaking the law when you exclude, even if that’s not your intent.
  3. When your fundraising is accessible and inclusive, you will raise more money.

In the rest of this series, I’m going to do two things: I’ll share techniques for making your communications more readable. But I’ll also try to equip you for making the argument that this really matters. It’s been my experience that the hard part about doing inclusive fundraising is the attitudes against it.

And I’d love to hear your experiences in this area.

More posts in this series


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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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