Principles of Fundraising, IMHO (Part 1)
Last fall, the class I had taught for several semesters at a local university was renamed. It was no longer called "The Art of Fundraising." Instead, it is now "Principles of Fundraising."
While the new name didn't require a change in my syllabus or lectures, it did cause me to step back and ask, "What are the principles of fundraising that I think are most important? What do I most want my students to remember as they are launched into the world as professional fundraisers?
I came up with 10 principles, adding an 11th after my first time teaching the course with the new name. I'll share those 11 with you over my next three columns, and welcome your additions after I've completed my list.
Principle 1: You are NOT the target audience. So figure out who is.
If you read my column regularly, you would have expected this to be at or very near the top. I know I am repeating myself! But this principle is that important.
- "I don't like it."
- "The copy is too long
- "That color doesn't work for me."
I've said all of those things from time to time. But honestly, who cares what I think? The only thing I should be asking (assuming we're on the right side of ethical) is, "Will this copy/design/color raise money?"
As a fundraiser, you know too much about fundraising. As an employee of a nonprofit or a consultant to one, you know too much about the inner working of that organization. Your donors or prospects don't have that insight. Remember that. You'll never see your target audience until you ditch the mirror.
Principle 2: You have to spend money to raise money.
We all know that every penny that goes to fundraising is a penny that isn't available for programs. But in the world of good causes, "If you build it, they will donate" is seldom true. People don't wake up in the morning with an overwhelming desire to seek out from the masses the one nonprofit (yours) that is worthy of their disposable income.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.