How to Practice Better Fundraising

Originally Posted in Jeff Brooks’s Blog

Is your fundraising stuck in low-involvement mode, where you have to communicate with your donors a lot, and you get low response rates, low average gifts, and have low donor retention? If so, you aren’t alone.


That’s the way a lot of fundraising works these days. Transactional. Impersonal. And it just barely works. In the old days, it worked quite well. Which is why so many organizations use it. They seem to hope the clock will magically turn back to those days. There’s a better way. You might call it relational fundraising. Donor focused. Or, as the MarketSmart blog calls it, engagement fundraising.

Here’s how you do it:

The 8 core components of engagement fundraising and why you desperately need them

– Acceptance of the Pareto Principle. (Knowing that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your donors tells you that you can — and should — focus your fundraising time and money at your 20%.)

– Understanding of why people really give. (Hint: it’s not because of your excellent processes. They give because it makes them feel good.)

– Employment of a feedback loop. (Make sure you’re listening to your donors!)

– Valuable engagement offers. (It’s not only about money. Give your donors other ways to change the world through your organization.)

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– Lead generation efforts. (Always look for ways to learn more about your donors by giving them opportunities to talk back and otherwise engage with you.)

– Cultivation efforts. (Keep the conversation going!)

– Dashboard. (Make your efforts and donors’ responses easily visible so you can react and respond in time.)

– Conversion efforts. (Ask when they’re likely to give.)

How- to-Practice-the-Better-Way-of-Doing-Fundraising-charityhowto

Learn how to create a Newsletter that motivates donors to give, try this Live Webinar at CharityHowto

About The Author
Jeff Brooks has served the nonprofit community for more than 25 years, working as a writer and creative director on behalf of large and small nonprofits, including CARE, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, World Vision, Feeding America, Project HOPE, and dozens of urban rescue missions and Salvation Army divisions.

He has planned and executed hundreds of campaigns in direct mail, print, radio, the internet, and other media that have motivated millions of donors to help make the world a better place. He blogs at, and is the author of three books: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand, and How to Turn Your Words into Money. He lives in Seattle.