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Jeff Brooks
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I frequently hear from fundraisers who believe premium-based fundraising (address labels and other things sent unasked for) is a force for evil that they must never, ever do. There's no evidence to support that -- nothing that I or any other informed fundraising professional I know has ever encountered. A look at the numbers shows not only gooses the short-term numbers, but can also improve long-term fundraising metrics. That's why Sean Triner, writing at 101fundraising, says I ❤ Premium Direct Mail! He should love it, because it raises an astounding amount of money and motivates millions of donors to support... Continue reading
Posted 13 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
One of the main reasons your donors give has nothing at all to do with you and your cause. They give because it feels good to give -- the warm glow of altruism. And reminding them of that is often very good fundraising. Here's an interesting test reported at MarketSmart: It's all about the "warm glow". The test was an email that went to Alaska residents, asking them to donate to a state charitable fund. There were two versions: Make Alaska Better, that is, give because it's a worth cause. Warm your heart -- give because it'll feel good. Those... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
"This modern, edgy design really makes me think positively about this charity!" "I don't feel educated enough about this cause to donate to it. Please give me more facts." "Your logo isn't big enough!" "Tell me again about how visionary your founder is." "Please give me information about what it is you don't do." "This message is not consistent with the charity's brand guidelines. No way am I going to donate!" "Puns! Wordplay! Finally! Now I'm on board with this cause!" "Would you please tell me more about your wonderful wealthy donors who give far more than I ever could?"... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Do you need your donors? Then tell them so! I know that sounds like relationship advice from a talk-show psychologist, but it needs to be said. So many fundraisers instead practice We Have It All Together fundraising: They believe that fundraising consists of showing donors how effective and successful they are, and invite donors to jump aboard the We Have It All Together Bandwagon. No wonder so many donors think they aren't important to the organizations they support. We Have It All Together Fundraising inadvertently tells them things are fine without them. Unless you have a funding structure that makes... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You can read a lot on the blogs, including this one, about how to write "donor-focused" fundraising. You can learn how to do it, and you'll raise more money. But writing donor-focused fundraising doesn't mean your organization is donor focused. That's the important point from The Agitator, at Donor Relations ... A One Way Street? ... when you assign a junior assistant intern to answering the donor service lines at lunch or have your donors listening to a recording that endlessly assures them -- "Your call is important to us" -- you need to be rethinking your priorities. Without putting... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
July is National Wheelchair Beautification Month. It's also Cord Blood Awareness Month. I'm not telling you this because I think either of those issues is silly or frivolous. There are no doubt quality nonprofit organizations that need to raise funds for needed programs related to those two issues. But if they use those awareness months as reasons for donors to give, they will almost surely fail. That fact that it's a "holiday" (or awareness day, week, or month), is rarely a reason people give. This painful reality is noted by the M+R Labs blog at Raising lots of money on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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What story does your fundraising tell? Is it Bad News -- the problem and brokenness that you want your donors to help you change? Or is it Good News -- the promise of what can happen when your donor steps up and gives. Or maybe there's a third, more perfect, way. We'll show you that way, the approach to fundraising that avoids the revenue killing errors of either good news or bad news fundraising. To listen, click here to download the audio file or visit the Fundraising Is Beautiful page here, where you'll find several listening and subscription options. Or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
By now you've seen the Giving USA report on US charitable giving in 2014: It was up 7.1% to $358.38 billion. That's higher than the pre-recession level. In fact, the highest in the 60-year history of the report. The recession is over. But not to hear some fundraisers talk. They're still blaming their poor results on the economy. They might as well blame it on the dinosaurs. The economy is not what's keeping donors from responding. If you're still suffering from poor fundraising results, it's probably your fundraising practices that's to blame. And you can change that. Here are the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Recent research reported by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that some people actually read the "About Us" page. Who knew? Great Summaries on 'About Us' Pages Engage Users and Build Trust says: In usability studies, we observe people peeking at top-level pages for answers to foundational questions. Make sure that your site passes the first impressions test by answering top questions succinctly. People are more inclined to engage further once they've determined you're worth the effort. Your "About Us" page matters a lot to some donors. Make sure they can easily find and quickly read what they need. Which is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Trying to motivate donors to give by addressing them with jargon they don't understand crushes a lot of fundraising efforts. People are far less likely to respond if they don't know what you're talking about. Why does it happen so often? The Daily Egg asked that same question: Everyone Hates Jargon. So Why Do People Still Use It? A possible answer? Many people are afraid of using language that's simple because they worry that it will make their product or service seem basic. Provided you're careful when writing about what you do, that's not as big a risk as people... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Sometimes, stupid happens by accident. I'm guessing that's how it happened here, but the stupid turned out so severe, I simply can't give it a bye. Take this as a cautionary tale, because it could happen to anyone. It's a campaign for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK (that's ALS in the US). It features the stories of people with MDA/ALS. This one is about a young man named Michael Smith: In case you can't read that (after all, it's all-cap text reversed against a photo, which basically the same as invisible ink) here's what it says: Last... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
What would you have done differently back then if you knew what you know now? Giles Pegram very usefully answers that question at UK Fundraising: 7 things I would do differently if I were an appeals director now. Very good stuff: Create and implement a clear vision for fundraising leadership Improve the donor experience Make the first 'thank you' perfect Measure and reward long-term performance, not just short-term Consider satisfaction as the key measure of Lifetime Value Spend at least as much on retention as we spend on recruitment I'd keep my head in the clouds and my feet firmly... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Too repetitive! If you need to get buy-in from non-professional authorities for your fundraising copy, you probably get this objection. If you do, that means you're doing it right. The Neuromarketing Blog notes the power of repetition at Repeat, Repeat, Repeat...and Sell More: Repetition increases processing fluency.... fluency creates preference. Or: The more they hear it, the more they like it. This may be counterintuitive. Chances are, you get bored and annoyed with your message before your donors' processing fluency reaches the point where it makes a difference. Repetition comes in two varieties: Repeated words, phrases, and ideas within a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Ten years ago I became a blogger. I realize that's not very interesting to anyone but myself -- even though in blog years, it's sort of like celebrating your bicentennial. But I've learned a few things from ten years of blogging, and that might interest you: What I've learned Writing what you know helps you know what you write. In work like ours, you have to keep a lot of principles in your head. We all know a lot of things. Writing about those things for ten years means having to go a step beyond knowing. Having a monster to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you know about Warby Parker? It's an online eyewear shop that has low prices and great customer service -- one of the new breed of disruptive online businesses that's changing the way a lot of things are bought and sold. You can tell they have something going by the number of Google hits that are something like: _____ is the Warby Parker of ______! Can your organization by the Warby Parker of fundraising? The B2B Marketing Insider as some hints at 5 Marketing Lessons From Warby Parker: Be Original and Relevant Engage with Customers Have a Mission Own the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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It must be overwhelmingly tempting. You're a hardworking charity. You're looking for a breakthrough. A creative agency comes knocking. They've won awards for their creative work. You've even encountered their work in the real world. They're ready to do something creative and award-winning for you. That's when the stupid starts. I don't know if that's how it went for Human Appeal, a UK-based international relief organization, but I bet that's close to the reality. Here's the short video they got: Or see it here on YouTube. You might have to watch it a few times to get the concept, so... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a quick easy change you can make on your website and emails that just might improve online response. It's form the Daily Egg, at Don't Create a Call to Action & Other Advanced CTA Tips: Don't focus on the word that best describes what a prospect has to do, use words that describe the benefit of taking the next step along your funnel. Make the value of clicking outweigh the cost. For fundraising that might mean instead of the standard Give or Donate, try something that describes the outcome of the donor's gift. Such as: Feed the children Save... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Everyone (including me) has a lot to tell you about how to ask people for donations. Not many tell how to thank those who gave. I have a feeling the way we thank may be just as important and exacting as the way we ask, because it sets up all subsequent giving. Here's some help on thanking from Focus on Philanthropy: How to write thank-you letters your donors will actually read: Don't open with "thank you." Don't bury the "thank you." Don't ask for more money. Do say how the gift will be used -- specifically. Do tell a story!... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a whole bucket of wisdom from The Far Edge Of Promise: 21 Advancement Truths. Here are a few of them: Donors don't give to institutions, they give through institutions. Doing the fundamentals consistently is "the silver bullet." What your donors believe about your institution is far more important than what they know about your institution. In making your most effective case for support, keep in mind that too many numbers numb, but stories are stored. With only rare exceptions, special events represent the most inefficient and ineffective way to raise money. Your job is to strengthen the donor's belief... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Hey! Someone's offering us free media -- a billboard, a print ad, bus or subway ads. Drop everything to take advantage of this amazing opportunity! Wait! It's not that simple. The offer may not be nearly as good as it sounds. You may be about to waste a lot of time (that is, money). Worse yet, you're about to do some really stupid stuff. Here's why: When someone gives away free media, it's possible they're being truly philanthropic and donating something of value. More likely, though, they're unloading "garbage" on you -- media they haven't been able to sell because... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Marc Pitman says donor fatigue is a myth. He's right. Here's his explanation: (Or see it on the web here.) I believe there's another problem that gets falsely labeled donor fatigue: Fundraiser fatigue. We get sick of saying the same thing again and again (even though it may be working) so we change what we're saying to be more pleasing to our own ears. Or stop talking to donors entirely. When revenue drops, we blame it on the donors. Those fickle people have grown tired of our fundraising! The solution to "donor fatigue": Keep on doing effective, relevant, donor-focused fundraising.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Our profession is oddly prone to delusions -- mistaken beliefs that don't stand up to either experience or close scrutiny. Here are just a few of the common delusions that send fundraisers down wrong paths from Social Velocity, at 5 Fundraising Delusions Nonprofits Suffer: Events Are Fundraisers. With some meanigful exceptions, events are not revenue producers if you counted all the real cost of them. Crowdfunding Creates Revenue. If you're lucky, crowdfunding can get dollars in the door. But it doesn't create ongoing relationship -- which are the name of the game in fundraising. Major Donors Can Be Recruited En... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If you write the way I do, you're in a constant struggle between the fevered disorder of inspiration and creativity and the orderly processes that allow you to juggle lots of ideas and projects. That's the professional writer's life in any field. Here are some realistic hints from Write to Done, at The Zen of Organized Writing: 5 Steps You Can Take Today: Capture Your Ideas Like Roald Dahl (when he had an idea, he would do anything to get it in writing before he lost it). Take Charge of Your Unruly Research (organized notes are empowering). Get A Room... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Most of your donors don't care that your organization has been around for a nice round number of years. That's why Give to us because it's our 25th and we're awesome is a lousy way to raise funds. But there are some things you can do to leverage your anniversary into more revenue. We discuss four cool things you can do that will turn that otherwise meaningless milestone into good things. To listen, click here to download the audio file or visit the Fundraising Is Beautiful page here, where you'll find several listening and subscription options. Or subscribe with iTunes: Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Olive Cooke, 92, was found dead by police in Bristol, England, on May 6. She'd taken her own life. By all accounts, she was a wonderful person. She was the UK's oldest poppy seller; she volunteered in that time-honored fundraiser for The Royal British Legion, an organization that serves military veterans, since 1938. A couple of other things you should know about Olive Cooke: She suffered from depression and other health problems. She was an extremely generous donor to a number of charities. So far, this is just a heart-breaking story about one woman's tragic struggle with depression. But something... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now