Fundraising From Yourself
It's lurking. It's close. And it's deadly. It forces hundreds of nonprofit organizations out of business every year. It robs even more organizations of their resources and leaves them foundering, unable to fully accomplish their missions. It destroys the careers of hundreds of hardworking and idealistic people.
You may think I'm talking about some kind of toxin- slobbering gorgon, or at least a new postal regulation. Nope. The terrible thing I'm talking about is a common mental error made by people in nonprofits: fundraising from yourself. (Cue scary organ music.)
I hope I can persuade you to react to the idea of fundraising from yourself with the same cold-blooded adrenaline rush you feel when you notice a zombie staring at you through your kitchen window. Because the danger is similar: A zombie might eat your brain, but fundraising from yourself will leave you nearly as brainless.
Correct fundraising starts with facts: solid knowledge about who the donors are, what they respond to, what has failed and what has worked. When you're fundraising from yourself, your assumption is this: If it moves me, it's good fundraising. From there you carefully craft the message you think you'd give to.
You can tell fundraising from yourself is happening when you say (or hear) comments like: "I like that." "I hate that." "I don't like the way that feels." "I'd respond to that." "I'd be ashamed to show this to my friends."
Almost any judgment with "I" in it will send you in the wrong direction. Those comments do not throw light onto the most important question: Will donors respond? You, a professional in fundraising, are radically unlike your donors. Let's look at the ways you differ:
Age. You are younger than your donors. Probably decades younger. If you don't think generational differences are significant, you haven't talked to your grandparents lately.