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What’s Agitating Me Now — An Interview with Roger Craver

What’s Agitating Me Now — An Interview with Roger Craver

March 29, 2023

In this episode of The Beacon Podcast, Margaret Gardner talks with fundraising guru and rabble rouser Roger Craver. 

Roger is the editor of fundraising and communications blog The Agitator, which has been his main space for rousing rabble for more than a decade. So, it seemed only natural to ask, “What’s agitating you now?”

Roger shares his thoughts on:

  • Direct response fundraising now and what the future holds
  • The quandary of why nonprofits seem more interested in acquiring new donors than retaining current ones
  • A lack of basic courtesy and common sense in the fundraising world

About our guest (by our guest)

“When I switched from being a major gifts and capital campaign fundraiser in favor of the path of direct response, my colleagues thought I had gone mad. They simply couldn’t imagine why any serious fundraiser would resort to anything less than face-to-face contact with donors and prospects.

“That was 45 years ago.

“Today, halfway through my career, I’m more convinced than ever that direct response fundraising and marketing continues to enjoy spectacular future. Far brighter than I ever imagined in those early years when we upstarts at Craver, Mathews, Smith & Company used the direct response techniques of the day to help launch or build groups like Common Cause, The National Organization for Women, ACLU, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and dozens of other major organizations, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

“A lawyer by training, a copywriter and strategist by trade, and a curious and optimistic guy by nature, I’m more convinced than ever that the best is yet to come where direct response fundraising is concerned. The only threats to our craft that truly worry me are complacency and conventional wisdom. Both jeopardize the best possible performance at a time when nonprofits will be required to perform far more and far better than they have in the past.

“Ours is a trade that has grown prosperous and self-satisfied. Even for the inexperienced or just plain stupid, there is rapid advancement and substantial financial reward. Why? Because the number of available vacancies for “fundraising” positions far outstrips the available talent.

“Even more worrisome in this era of rapid change is the unwillingness on the part of far too many fundraisers, CEOs and Boards to innovate, to take risks and to break new ground.

“Fortunately, there is a wealth of new talent, technologies and techniques bursting on to the scene. These are the best antidotes to complacency and conventional wisdom. It’s my hope that in this space we can –together — shine the spotlight on the trends, talent, techniques and technologies that will make us all perform better tomorrow than we do today.

“Afterall, the stakes for the causes and organizations we serve are simply too high to accept anything less.”

Connect with Roger on LinkedIn
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