Did you read Tom Ahern’s, archived on his website? “Proposed: A new set of messages for nonprofits.” He talks about emotional triggers and other tricks of the trade – and how we need to use them.
Well, I’m the “senior expert” explaining “fundraising 101” that he references in his e-news. I’m the one who apparently smiled warmly. (He should know; he was in the room watching me.) After Tom’s usual great presentation, I told people not to take the negative approach and think that these “tricks of the trade” are manipulative. Instead, we’re talking about basic principles and best practice.
I said, “Don’t worry. This isn’t manipulation. You’re plugging into people’s own values and emotions.” As you saw in his e-news, Tom thought, “What’s wrong with manipulation? I think manipulation is great.”
So what, exactly, is manipulation or manipulate? My old Webster’s Dictionary says: “Manage or utilize skillfully.” Well, that’s good.
But then, of course, what we all seem to think of mostly is, “control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means to one’s own advantage.” I don’t like unfair or insidious. Actually, insidious is a somewhat odious word, isn’t it?
Then there’s that final phrase, “to one’s own advantage.” That’s really, the problem, I suspect. I trap you into doing something you don’t want to do. I make you act in ways contrary to your own interests.
But that isn’t good fundraising. Good fundraising honors and respects people’s values and interests. Good fundraisers don’t keep chasing people who aren’t interested. Good fundraisers don’t even think in terms of “hitting up” people for gifts. Good fundraisers don’t misrepresent or lie.
Good fundraisers and the most effective fundraising are ethical and respectful, donor-centered and caring. And good fundraisers and effective fundraising apply the body of knowledge and research, and use the best tools.