I been thinking about the Comments on my post last week, Who’s A Poor Fundraiser To Believe?

In it’s most simple reading, the post was taken as reducing sound fundraising to choosing one side or the other of the ‘mail more, mail less’ conundrum.

And looked at this way, the appropriate response was, in effect: This is dumb … it’s not either/or … it’s different strokes for different folks.

And I obviously agree … to a point.

The question I was really trying to get at is how do fundraisers (and for the sake of this post I define ‘fundraisers’ as those working in nonprofits, with budgets to meet, as opposed to you agencies, consultants and advisors) sort out what to believe about ‘best practices’? Or ‘first principles’? Or even where to begin?

The ‘feeds’ I get that illustrate the concerns of these fundraisers, as opposed to the blog chat of us ‘advisors’, display a huge lack of knowledge of real fundraising basics. Every day we see nonprofits sign up for The Agitator that can’t possibly have more than 10,000 or 25,000 donors … maybe 100,000 max.

[I’d estimate our readership is one-third this category, one-third giants who can afford ‘professional’ advice, and one-third those paid to advise.]

The  fundraising being done in these numerous smaller nonprofits is undertaken without much access to ‘knowledgeable’ advice beyond the various blogging professionals and the business pitches of competing product/service vendors.

Given those sources, the ‘answer of the day’ to their questions might be better thank you’s, better newsletters, more online contacts, use premiums, better ‘Donate’ pages, don’t use premiums, introduce monthly giving, use social media, be mobile friendly, and yes … mail less or mail more.*

For these fundraisers, I think you might agree that the advice proffered can be bewildering, and at times even contradictory. Certainly tough to sort out priority-wise.

For these fundraisers, ‘different strokes for different folks’ or ‘be more donor-centric’ might not be particularly helpful … even though such advice is correct — conveniently for advisors — 100% of the time! And, dare I say, it makes being an ‘advisor’ rather fault-free.

For these fundraisers I still ask: Are there fundamental rules that should be followed religiously by each and every nonprofit raising money? What are they?

Here’s one: Thou shalt thank your donors, each and every one, each time they give. [Details to follow.]

This might sound super-simplistic — Duh! stuff –to the consultant/agency/blogger class, but I submit there are thousands of fundraisers out there who need really simple advice about fundamental do’s and don’ts.

Can we do more to help them, or not?*


*And I’m not letting The Agitator off the hook here. Roger and I write about every nook and cranny of fundraising, and perhaps too often with the unconscious presumption that we’re writing for the fundraising ‘intelligentsia’. Maybe that’s not helpful.




This article was posted in: Fundraising philosophy/profession, Nonprofit management, Starting Over.
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