Home Fundraising Fake News vs. Real News: A Nonprofit Perspective

Fake News vs. Real News: A Nonprofit Perspective

by Dan Kimball

It’s the most popular phrase on the planet right now. It has dedicated websites, numerous articles, and a hashtag. It has also occurred regularly in daily White House briefings for the past several months since President Trump took office. Yes, I am talking about fake news.

What’s Real And What’s Fake?

Social media, email, and newspapers are filled with stories that look real and seem legitimate. But they later turn out to be incorrect, contain bad information, or are out of context. In some cases, it’s just a way to drive traffic to websites. Everyone seems to be accusing each other of fake news, and late night television hosts and comedians have had their plates full with what is and isn’t news.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype and frustration of current events, trending news, and political banter. For some, it seems the whole topic has turned into a sport. The New York Times wrote an article, “As Fake News Spreads Lies, More Readers Shrug at the Truth.” They observed:

The larger problem, experts say, is less extreme but more insidious. Fake news and the proliferation of raw opinion that passes for news is creating confusion, punching holes in what is true, causing a kind of fun-house effect that leaves the reader doubting everything, including real news.

That has pushed up the political temperature and increased polarization. No longer burdened with wrestling with the possibility that they might be wrong, people on the right and the left have become more entrenched in their positions, experts say. In interviews, people said they felt more empowered, more attached to their own side and less inclined to listen to the other. Polarization is fun, like cheering a goal for the home team. – The New York Times, December 6, 2016

So for those of you who work in the nonprofit sector and feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or even saddened by all the fake news talk, I will share some real news with you. It is 100% verified, fact-checked, confirmed and completely true. Are you ready?

Fundraising Is Not Rocket Science. It’s About People.

If you can connect to people, you can be a great fundraiser. Great fundraising isn’t focused on generating income. It connects people who want to give to a cause they feel strongly about. Our job as fundraisers is to be that link between people and the cause. We need to do it in a way that makes donors feel valued and connected, but also enables your organization to meet the goals set by your board or director.

Here are a few additional pieces of not-fake news you can count on for success and peace of mind as you work tirelessly and passionately on behalf of your nonprofit.

Thank Your Donors

After a busy giving season at the end of the past year, many nonprofits did not spend the same amount of time and energy thanking their donors and supporters. Remember to give thanks for donations early and often. Showing consistent, authentic appreciation for your donors (new and old) is crucial for retaining supporters and building quality relationships with your support base. Always send a thank you, along with their tax-deductible information. Online giving tools like Aplos generate donor receipts automatically, but make sure to add a personal message to the letter or receipt. Then follow up with something more personalized, like a handwritten card, or note from a board member or Executive Director.

Communicate With Your Donors

Communicate with your donors in a way that isn’t always asking them for money. Newsletters, emails, Facebook, videos, podcasts, websites, and non-ask appreciation events are great ways to communicate with and steward your donors.

Get People Involved

Donors tend to stay connected with organizations that engage and involve them beyond their wallets. Time and talent from your donors and support base is as important and valuable as treasure. Involve them. Ask your donors to volunteer, serve on committees, or join your board. Get them active on behalf of your organization with participatory fundraising.

Focus On Your Donor’s Needs, Not Yours

Despite the worthiness of your cause, or the multitude of people you help, there’s no good reason why prospects or donors should give you money just because you ask. However, they’ll give when they find a connection not just with the organization, but with the people and causes that align with their passions and interests. Imagine your donors as customers. You’ll move away from your need to theirs, which will go a long way toward making your fundraising approach compelling.

Stay focused on your mission and not fake news. Try to think of the incredible staff, volunteers, and donors who are a part of the work you do every day. Also, remember the communities and regions you serve, and the lives impacted by your organization.

Happy fundraising.

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