It’s a Trap!

Trap.

Please please please, do not get stuck in the classic nonprofit trap of thinking, “We want to raise more money but we have to sound like us.”

First, let’s take just a moment to acknowledge the strategic absurdity of expecting to raise meaningfully more money this year but “say the same things we always say in the way we always say them.”

What I want to focus on is this: I know of no nonprofit with a thriving fundraising operation that “sounds like” they sounded when they started. Instead, they experimented with and tailored their message over time, in order to raise more and do the most good.

“Sound like us” or “sound like me” are good values, but should not be the primary values.

An organization’s primary value for their fundraising communications should be something like, “we will continuously evolve our fundraising messaging so we can fund more and more of our mission work.”

(I’m assuming we’re telling the truth, etcetera etcetera.)

What’s more, an organization should “sound” different when communicating with different audiences. You should sound different when talking to an experienced professional at a Foundation partner than you sound in an email asking non-donors to make their first gift.

The primary goal for an organization’s fundraising communications should not be to “sound like us.” The primary goal should be to evolve and improve “what you sound like” over time in order to raise the most money and keep as many donors as possible each year.

3 comments on “It’s a Trap!

  1. Thanks, this makes complete sense. I think there’s almost a sort of unintended arrogance that accompanies the “sound like me” mindset. Surely we need, if anything, to sound like the voice the donor wants to hear?

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