Easier Said Than Done: Fundraising Urban Legends Debunked
This is a variation of the "deal with the devil" story that is told in every culture and every age. Oddly enough, it's entirely true, and it happens to nonprofits regularly. All the major ad agencies are owned by Beelzebub Holdings, and the work they do for nonprofits is part of a diabolical plot to make the nonprofit community appear to be clinically insane. They do this in hopes that nobody will donate anything ever, either so they can spend more on useless consumer goods or to prevent good deeds from being done. Warn everyone!
Night of the zombie donors
Here's an insidious legend that circulates at fundraising conferences, constantly gaining new believers. It says that the moment after a donor gives, she immediately enters a state of suspended animation for three to six months. Waking a donor from this state — which can happen if you give her an opportunity to give again — will cause her to become a sort of zombie that will murderously pursue you with intent to not donate for the rest of all time, and to the end of the universe.
I'm happy to report that this belief is not at all true. The more recently a donor gave, the more likely she is to give now. Giving leads to giving. Fundraisers who act on this false belief cause severe damage to their organizations, mostly in the form of self-inflicted low retention rates.
The out-of-control trademark lawyers
One fear-mongering story says that the United Way has trademarked the words "please" and "thank you." This would effectively monopolize nearly all forms of fundraising. The rest of us are screwed.
When the United Way's attorneys looked into copywriting key fundraising terms, they discovered the unpleasant truth that Microsoft already owns "please," and Google owns "thank you." The rest of us, including United Way, are screwed.