February 7, 2021

What if we developed a checklist for fundraising? Or a different checklist for different angles of fundraising?

Let’s see…what could the angles be? Hmmmm…

Donor newsletter checklist

First solicitation letter to qualified prospects

Direct mail solicitation letters

Personal solicitation checklist

And and and…

Oh, here’s an idea!! Checklist for what words we will never every use in our organization. Maybe the formal title is: Forbidden words!?

Checklist for what we will do every single year with donors … no matter how tired we are or the boss is or anyone else in the organization!!

I could go on and on and on…

I think I’ll start with the Forbidden Words Checklist. Or maybe it’s actually Forbidden Concepts and Words Checklist. So here goes:

  1. Evil concept: That some donors are more important than others.
  2. Forbidden words: Major donor. Major gift.
  3. Evil concept: Most important fundraising measure is “How much money did we raise?”
  4. Evil concept: Recognizing donors by the size of their gifts.
  5. Evil concept: Give – Get – Or get off!
  6. Evil concept: Recruiting board members because of socioconomic status (GIVE). Recruiting board members because of their connections (GET). The only value a board member has is giving and getting money. And gosh…Those are often white males. To hell with the value of diverse life experiences. So just get off!

Let’s see. Let’s try to focus, for a moment, on the Forbidden Words. Hmmm:

  1. Forbidden words: NOT using “you” enough.
  2. Forbidden words: Any word that’s informal. For example – Wow! Soliciting a gift is a formal business letter. Proper grammar. Proper verbiage. Etc. etc. (I’ll bet you’ve heard this often enough to bore you by now! Read more from Jeff Brooks and Tom Ahern. Share Jeff Brooks’ blog with your boss and your board members.

A final thought for this moment: Always remember, fundraising leaders must be gracious teachers. You’re teaching your boss and other staff and the board and board members.

A key job as a fundraiser is to anticipate and pre-empt. You anticipate that your boss or a board member(s) will not know this stuff. And that’s okay. They don’t have to know the body of knowledge and research and and in fundraising. That’s our job as fundraisers. But they do have to listen to us!!!

So what do you suggest? What other checklists do we need?

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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