If you’re a fundraiser, you’ve likely encountered someone within your organization (or at a dinner party!) who thinks of fundraising not as a profession, but rather, a fun job that any friendly person can do.
I mean, what’s so hard about asking people for money…right?
What these well-meaning people don’t know is that good fundraisers don’t just look at donors as big, walking dollar signs. Be it through training, experience, or a mixture of both, we’re often the only ones in the room that truly know which message will resonate best with donors. We know why they’re connected to the cause and what compels them to take action.
But sometimes, this knowledge goes against the thoughts and opinions of those who work alongside you.
I get it – teamwork is all about compromise, and you have to pick your battles. But there are other times I urge you to stand your ground and trust your professional fundraiser gut!
These are five times the fundraiser is always right:
Font size and style.
Fundraising copy requires a large, clear, readable font. You’ll have to go against the marketing gurus on this one. While your organization’s branded fonts are likely very pretty, they can often be hard to read for older eyes. And if donors can’t read the writing on your reply coupon, they’re not going to bother filling it out with their donation!
Reasons why donors give.
Donors don’t care about your anniversary. Or the award your board member just got. Or your new website. Donors care about your cause and how they can help advance your mission. I’m not saying you can’t mention a special milestone – but don’t send an email focused on it and expect donors to give just because of it.
Volume and frequency of asks.
You’re not pestering the donor for money! Of course, this assumes that you are regularly stewarding and engaging your donors. (Psst….you can get some stewardship tips here!) But it’s not up to us to decide when and how our donors want to contribute to the cause they’re passionate about. We fundraisers can’t stress this enough – if you don’t ask for a donation, you will not get donations.
Channels that work.
Direct mail isn’t dead! As a fundraiser who gets giddy about new direct mail packages, I will fight to the bitter end on this one. Just show your CEO or board chair the latest Direct Mail Benchmarks study – a report that shows direct mail in Canada is, in fact, growing! (Get it here for FREE!)
The new trends in fundraising.
Your fundraising campaign isn’t going to go viral. Now, this one can be really hard to swallow if you’re an enthusiastic board member who grows out his mustache every November. Things like the ALS ice bucket challenge or the Movember campaign are fantastic – but they are the exceptions, not the rule. Stick to the basics – the fundamentals that you, professional fundraiser, know will work. And if you need some back-up, Good Works partner Fraser Green has some good pointers on avoiding the shiny new trends.
I’ll stop at five for now (after all, I know you’re a busy professional!), but there’s so many more examples of times when you should stick to your guns, whether you’re talking to the marketing team, a CEO, a board member, or the old lady next door. Just remember YOU are the expert, and most importantly – YOU know what your donors want. Now go forth and fundraise!