December 5, 2016

Kill Your Darlings

“In writing,” says William Faulkner, “you must kill your darlings.”

We all have favorites. In writing, we have favorite stories, favorite words, favorite phrases, favorite structures, and so on. We also have our favorites in fundraising: the channel we just have to use, the model we just have the follow, the even we just have to throw. I’d almost bet that our favorites give us a fundraising fingerprint. Someone who paid close enough attention, given enough information about style and demands, could identify each of us.

But here’s the cold, hard fact: it doesn’t matter if something is your favorite. It only matters if it works.

It doesn’t matter if you love your database, or an event, or a letter, or a picture, or a story. It only matters if it generates money for the cause.

There are limits, of course. Some things – the unethical, the illegal, etc. – are absolutely off-limits.

But, in general, if it doesn’t work – even if it’s beautiful – kill it. And if it does work – even if it’s hideous – keep it.

Monday, December 5, 2016


I’m a pastor, an author, and a nonprofit development and communications professional. My passion, my mission, and my calling is bringing people together to do good, with a particular focus on serving people who are experiencing poverty and other forms of marginalization.

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