Has your fundraising “recipe” lost its magic?

Remember how wonderful were the cookies your grandmother used to bake?

Thank goodness she gave you the recipe.

But they just aren’t as good as they were back then.

What was the “grandma magic” she had that you don’t have?

Maybe it’s the recipe.

Maybe you’ve made “improvements” over the years that have fundamentally changed the cookies into a lesser version of themselves. It happens.

It happens with fundraising too, as described in this excellent post from the Better Fundraising Blog: Change the Recipe, Change the Results.

Here’s a typical “original recipe” for an organization’s fundraising:

  1. The founder talks about whatever “the situation” is that caused him/her to start the organization.
  2. They describe what needs to be done to help, and how it will help.
  3. They ask the donor to give a gift to fund what needs to be done.

Yummy cookies!

Years pass. The organization grows. New cooks enter the kitchen. The adjust their recipe, a bit at a time.

Eventually, the fundraising recipe is like this:

  1. They talk about the work they are already doing.
  2. They describe how they do that work.
  3. They ask the donor to give a gift to fund their ongoing work.

It’s not raising as much money.

And nobody can understand why.

They often blame the donors. People aren’t as generous/smart/kind as they used to be.

They point their fingers at just about everything except the recipe they’ve been changing. They are sure their changes have been improvements. Despite the evidence to the contrary.

Take a close and objective look at your fundraising recipe.

Is it simple and straightforward like grandmother’s cookie recipe?

Is it about a problem, its solution, and an invitation to be part of the solution?

Or is it more like a tutorial on how your organization does its job?

You may be able to bring back the “original recipe” and start raising money like the “old days.”


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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.