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All You Need Is Love: Nearly Everything I Know about Fundraising I Learned from the Beatles

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One of the great things about fundraising is you can find the information and inspiration you need just about anywhere.

I’ve found a treasury of fundraising wisdom in the work of the Beatles …

When I’m Sixty-Four

By a wide margin, donors are older people. Get used to it. Treasure them. Too many nonprofits waste too much energy trying to activate a new generation of young donors. Our culture may be fixated on youth, but when it comes to fundraising, the smart money is on older people.

Can’t Buy Me Love

If you think you can buy donors, think again. Yeah, it takes investment, and you’d better be tracking the numbers, but fundraising is about passion, relationship, connection — and love. Never forget that.

Act Naturally

The best fundraising “tactic” is to act (and write) like a normal human being. Act naturally, and you’ll stand out in the crowd of others who are writing either like soulless robots or self-conscious poets — or an unholy combination of both.

Cry Baby Cry

If you really want to motivate people to give, you’d better get emotional. If you can’t make readers cry, you’ll always struggle to make them respond.


If you need help, ask for it. Cry for it! Don’t pretend your organization can go it alone. Fundraising works best when you humble yourself before your donors and say “help!”

With a Little Help from My Friends

You can’t make it without your donors. Don’t forget that — and don’t let them forget, either. Make sure you and they always understand how necessary they are to your cause.

Please Mr Postman

If you use direct mail, get friendly with the Postal Service. Learn their strange ways. Speak their language. It can save you a lot of trouble and money.

PS I love you

Did you know that the most-read part of a direct mail letter is the PS? That’s why you should never omit it, and why it should say whatever is the most important thing you have to say.

Thank You Girl

One of the most important parts of fundraising is thanking. When you thank a donor, you complete the circle. When you don’t, you’re like a mail-order company that doesn’t send what people pay for.

All Together Now

Donors are more likely to respond when they see that others are responding. Social proof is a powerful motivator. Don’t tell donors, “We need you because nobody else is responding” — that’s a reason not to donate. Show them that others care too. We’re in this together!

Getting Better

Tell your donors that their giving is actually making things better! They hear from every side that the world is getting worse and worse all the time … that their donations don’t make a difference. Tell them the truth: Their giving is making things better.

Here Comes the Sun

Donating is an act of hope. Feed that hope! Let them know that their giving makes the change they want to see happen.

I Call Your Name

If you know a donor’s name, use it. One’s own name is the most motivational word there is.

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