Don’t let non-fundraisers influence fundraising decisions

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‘The thing is, you don’t want this charity to become one of those charities sending begging letters through the post, that’s not who we are’

Whether it’s your CEOs spouse, Trustee’s friend, or the fairies that live at the end of your Chairman’s garden, if they are not a fundraiser, don’t let them influence fundraising. In the words of Jeff Brooks ‘The problem is the director’s spouse carries a toxic combination of ignorance and authority’.

The above quote actually convinced a charity CEO that maybe Direct Mail wasn’t right for their charity. A charity that desperately needed regular income. That desperately needed to develop individual donors because it relied heavily on corporate and Trust support that was slowly drying up. A charity that had a huge audience that had attended events and received newsletters that had never been asked for money before. It was the perfect time to approach and make an ask.

But, because of one statement from a contact of the charity, this was all put on hold. The CEO started to question if Direct Mail really works, started to question if anyone would even give to the charity if it ‘begged’ for donations, started to question if the experienced fundraising professional really knew what they were doing. Because surely, if someone as warm to the charity as this person had been didn’t think it would fit with the charity ethos, they HAD to be right. Right?

WRONG!

These people are not your donors. They are not your target audience. They have not been cultivated in the way that your donors have. Do not let them influence decisions over fundraising. They are not a fundraiser.

*Disclaimer – to avoid confusion, I am not saying don’t listen to donors, service delivery staff, beneficiaries, or even your CEOs spouse. By all means, take on board their comments, understand why they think and feel what they do. But remember that they are not speaking from a place of understanding what works for the majority of your supporters. Look at results rather than one-off opinions. If you send a Direct Mail appeal and you get a fantastic ROI, but one donor comes back and says they didn’t like it, would you stop sending Direct Mail to everyone? I doubt it.

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