I hate looking into someone’s face and asking for money. I just can’t do it. Hence, I am not a development officer. I am, however, rather good at asking people for money via media other than the mouth.
From UJA walk-a-thons to synagogue bazaars to PFLAG dinner dances to nonprofit board-member letter-writing campaigns, I’ve unwittingly been involved in fund-raising my whole life. Still, when I began my eight years of work in a university development office, it was a rude awakening.
Thankfully, I was not unleashed on alumni and donors all that often. My job was to craft messages, design campaign materials, produce magazines and publications, and write creative yet heartwarming fund-raising appeals. I did most of this in the comfort of my little office. When I was allowed to leave, perhaps for lunch with a potential donor who happened to take a liking to me (go figure!), I begged for a warning sign so I could excuse myself to the bathroom when the big ASK was to take place. I seldom got that warning, so a well-timed duck under the table to retrieve my dropped fork often had to suffice.
Enter electronic fund-raising. You’d think I’d be thrilled, that the passive-aggressive medium of e-mail would be my saving grace. Alas, no.
It is widely known in fund-raising circles that 90 percent of the money comes from 10 percent of the people. And those 10 percent need care and feeding … in person. So no help there.
Then there are those who believe electronic communications can take the place of print communications. They are my enemy for a number of reasons. And they are wrong.
I am an old-fashioned print person. I love paper; I love ink. I love to read on the bus; I love to read in the bathroom. Reading electronic media in a moving vehicle makes me motion sick. Reading electronic media in the bathroom makes me … um, that’s just gross.
And every fund-raising study I’ve read supports the fact that electronic media cannot REPLACE print. It can augment; it can complement. But, praise be, it will NEVER replace it. Cue applause.
I use both kinds of media for fund-raising, and pretty much everything else. It’s time to talk about using these media together successfully — and, more importantly to me, how to use your print budget in the most effective, productive, creative and money-raising way.
With apologies to one of the smartest and most successful people I know (Anneke Seley, author of the terrific book, Sales 2.0): I am so over the 2.0 world. Really, how much staying power can one number have?
So, I will be drawing on my umpteen years of fund-raising experience to share some of my principals for Fund-Raising 3.0: Using Print Media for Fund-Raising in an Electronic World. Cue applause. And stay tuned.