Fundraisers: Stop the political vitriol!
If we live in a democracy, we need to be active. We need to participate in the politics of our communities and countries. But as fundraisers, we need to be very, very tactful. And careful.
Unless your cause is political, your politics can seriously hinder your fundraising.
Here’s an example from the USA that will surely irritate some of you. Apologies in advance. (Links to the source data will be at the end of this post.)
You may be "right" but your most generous donors probably won't agree
Let’s say you’re a Democrat. You think all Republicans are non-thinking, homophobic, reactionary idiots who want to throw us back to the Dark Ages. (Honestly, I’ve seen those words used by fundraising professionals and consultants in the last week!)
Being civically engaged, you tweet your views. Even during work hours.
Chances are your colleagues agree with you. Chances are you are more or less talking into an echo chamber during the work day. (Just as much as the other people that get all their news from Fox News are more or less living in an echo chamber.)
Your slamming conservatives saying they want to send us back into the "Dark Ages" may leak into your conversations with your board or donors. But chances are if you have 9 people in a room: 3 of them are Republican, 3 are Democrat, and 3 are independent. A study just a few weeks ago showed there are 36% of Americans calling themselves Republican and only 32% calling themselves Democrat.
More importantly for your fundraising, in the USA, studies have been done showing that Republicans are more generous donors than Democrats. Or rather, Republicans are more generous with their own money; Democrats more generous with government money.
Which source would your nonprofit prefer to get gifts from?
Don’t slam your best donors
You are free to say whatever you want. But do so realizing how your best donors might take it. If your work is largely government funded, learn to tell your story in a way that resonates with fiscal conservatives.
Whether you agree with them or not. 42% of Americans consider themselves “fiscal conservatives” about government spending.
Shut up and listen
One of the best ways to learn to tell your nonprofit’s story in a way that will resonate with people with a different world view is to be quiet and listen to them. Ask them why they support your charity. Find out what got them interested in the first place.
When you meet with them listen to the words they use to describe what you do -— especially the words and phrases you don’t normally use yourself.
Stay passionate. Be wise.
This isn't just Democrat vs. Republican. It goes for any divide: conservatives and liberals, PETA people and carnivores, Microsoft fan boys and Apple devotees.
Your passions are good. They are what set you apart.
But democracy is made up of lots of people with different beliefs finding a middle way.
So I wanted to remind you this common sense message: Be passionate, celebrate diversity, and fundraise wisely.
Source Data (Proof that I’m not making this stuff up!)
- One such study was in the Chronicle of Philanthropy a few years back: http://bit.ly/GRu4kL looks like you need a subscription to read it.
- 36% Republican; 32% Democrat
- 42% fiscal conservatives http://bit.ly/GPaMiL