imageTo hear some fundraisers and consultants talk, you’d think asking donors to give was a vile and rude act.  Some in our industry seem to equate a direct mail fundraising appeal with a slap in the face by a very ripe fish: painful, odoriferous, and just plain uncalled for.

It’s just not true.  Except in one way:  It’s self-fulfilling.  Because if you believe fundraising hurts donors, I can almost guarantee you’re doing fundraising in a harmful way.

For most donors, fundraising is the main way they experience an organization they support.  To say they love you but hate your communications is to attribute them with a nearly clinical level of cognitive dissonance!

How much better it would be to work from a higher and more beautiful set of assumptions:

  • Communicating with donors is good.

  • Donors love to hear from us.

  • Every touch can and should be a positive, relationship-building experienceeven when it doesn’t generate a gift.

You’ll have a much more satisfying life and do more life-affirming and effective fundraising if you believe these things rather than the self-destructive assumption that fundraising is a necessary evil.

Of course you don’t want to send irrelevant, money-wasting mail to people who aren’t interested and unlikely to give.  That’s what smart segmentation is about.  But in your heart, you need to believe that asking is good.  Otherwise, you are on a path to anti-donor communications and fundraising failure.  And one heck of a miserable career in fundraising.

If you struggle with that dark sense that asking is shameful, wrong, or hurts donors, repeat this little catechism every day until your attitude improves:

  • Donors donate.

  • Donors love to donate.

  • Giving feels good.

  • Giving is good.

  • Creating opportunities for giving is a great service to humanity.

When you feel these truths in your heart, you are a fundraiser.


imageJeff Brooks is creative director at Merkle|Domain, a direct-response agency serving the nonprofit world.  He blogs at the Donor Power Blog.

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