The right use of "we" in fundraising

We Can Do It!This morning, I read a great post by Terry St. Marie called "The Critical First Step For Great Leadership: The Journey From 'I' to 'We'." His movement from ego-centricity to inclusiveness is something as critical in fundraising as it is in leadership.

Normally "we" is a bad word in fundraising letters. I regularly help my executive coaching clients edit it out of their fundraising letters. Usually, my first step is to count all the uses of "we," "our," and "ours" versus the number of "you," "your," and "yours." This moves their fundraising letters away from "we are awesome and doing amazing things so you should donate to us" to "you are making an amazing impact in the world."

And those letters are exponentially more effective.

A coaching client transformed that

But a few months ago, I noticed a Fundraising Coach client's use of "we" had shifted in her fundraising letters. Her use of "we" was inclusive. It included the donor. "Together, we are doing amazing things."

It worked. It was powerful. Rather than excluding the donor like a typical "we" does, this type of "we" included the donor, recognizing the donor as part of the family.

That is good fundraising.

You still need to change your fundraising letters

I still recommend you try to do a "we-ectomy" on your letters. You can see the process in this post on telling a powerful fundraising story. Doing this will make you better at thinking in terms of the donor's role in making your mission possible.

As you get better at this, you will then be able to grow into the appropriate use of "we."

Remember, if your nonprofit is dependent on donor's giving to fund your mission, donors really are part of your family.

For another look at the right use of "we," look at this post by Tom Ahern that quotes Lisa Sargent, Pamela Grow, and Nancy Schwartz:
About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to

What would you add?