With Ground Hog Day right around the corner here in the US, I thought we’d learn Fundraising Secret #11 from the perspective of the classic movie Ground Hog Day:

Fundraising Secret #11: Don’t be a Ned

Does this sound like your fundraising efforts?

Ned: Phil? Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!

Phil: Hi, thanks for watching. [Starts to walk away]

Ned: Hey now, don’t you tell me you don’t remember me ’cause I sure as heckfire remember you.

Phil: Not a chance.

Ned: Ned… Ryerson. “Needlenose Ned”? “Ned the Head”? C’mon, buddy. Case Western High. I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing. Ned Ryerson, got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson, I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple of times until you told me not to anymore? Well?

Phil: Ned Ryerson?

Ned: BING!

Phil: Bing.

Ned: Do you have life insurance, Phil? Because if you do, you could always use a little more, I mean, who couldn’t? But let me tell something – I got’s a feeling [whistles] you ain’t got any. Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right, right right.

I crack up every time I see this scene!

Phil is so completely self-absorbed and utterly uninterested in Ned, let alone what Ned’s selling. And Ned’s so completely absorbed with selling insurance, he’s not reading Phil’s very clear signs of indifference.

Please, don’t be a Ned.

Our donors have had it “up to here” with marketing and sales and promises from people that don’t care about them.

Learn to care.

Our donors, like us, are real people with real concerns about real lives. And your nonprofit isn’t at the center of their real lives. Nor should it be.

It’s our job to help get our organization on their radar screen. But rather than going after anyone that can fog a mirror, it’s more helpful for your fundraising efforts to figure out what type of person already gives to you.

  • Men or women?
  • WWII generation? Silent Generation? Boomer? Xer? Millenial?
  • What draws them to your mission?
  • How are they first introduced to your organization?

I’d venture to guess it’s not by accosting them on the street in the middle of a cold February day. (Or on the phone. Or in the mail.)

So as you start this new year, commit to taking the time to do the hard research to get to know your current donors. And commit to engaging with donors and donor prospects to get to know them, and to let them get to know you, before you ask.

And whatever you do, please, don’t be a Ned!

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