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Jeff Brooks
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You and your donor together are a world-changing duo of heroes. But what pair-of-superheroes model are you following? Are you the following the Batman Model? Batman is the Boss. Robin is the helper, the sidekick. All is well as long as Robin does what Batman tells him what to do. Batman gets all the glory. And a way cooler costume. The Batman Model in fundraising puts the fundraiser in the starring role. The donor is the helper whose donations help enable the work. Batman fundraising is full of phrases like: Please donate so we can... Help us help the children...... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Many fundraisers are specifically charged with raising "unrestricted support" for their organization. To make life easier for their accountants? To make it worse, some of those fundraisers seem to be in a perpetual snit about donors' penchant for supporting the cause in specific ways. So their fundraising often ends up berating donors to get it right and make unrestricted donations. That's a costly mistake, as this recent post at Clairification notes: Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts. The funny thing is, most donors, when asked, are happy to give unrestricted gifts. But most of those same... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Remember how the American Cancer Society ran a huge experiment (stopping direct mail donor acquisition for a year and a half) to learn something that pretty much everyone should already know? Here's another similar case. This one looks more purposeful. As reported in the HubSpot Marketing Blog at How a Blank, 4-Minute Video Got 100,000 Views, an agency called Solve posted a four-minute video to YouTube that is nothing but blank white nothingness. Four whole minutes of it. And they got more than 100,000 views. As of this morning, there have been more than 150,000 views! (You can see the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
One cool thing about working at a fundraising agency is you are involved in a lot of fundraising campaigns. And a lot of tests. Here are some of the things I've learned from hundreds of tests over the course of more than 25 years... Simple wins. Every test I've ever seen where one panel is more complex than the other, the simple one wins. Simplicity is your ultimate secret weapon in fundraising. Why is it so rarely used? Because it's much more difficult to make what you do simple than it is to just describe the complexity. Pretty loses. I... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Your organization makes a mistake and a donor complains: catastrophe, or opportunity? I hope you said opportunity. Because it's an excellent chance to deepen your relationship with a donor who wants a relationship. (Think about it: A donor who's apathetic would be unlikely to complain. The complainer wants to work things out. Here's some help on responding to those complaints from MarketSmart, at Why mistakes are awesome and what to do about them: Be glad they called. Respond promptly. Apologize profusely and mean it! Be real! Bend over backwards to make it right. Make sure you made it right. Thank... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Almost three years ago, American Cancer Society made either a visionary decision or a massive boneheaded mistake. They did so very publicly, and everyone in the fundraising industry was interested. It was a big deal. They suspended direct mail donor acquisition. And they generously promised to be open about what happened and why. Then reality set in. The suspension turned out to be much more of a boneheaded mistake than a visionary decision. When it came time to share inside knowledge at the DMANF New York Nonprofit Conference, many who were there were disappointed at the lack of information and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the most vexing challenges for many fundraisers is how to cultivate mid-level donors -- those who are between the large population of general donors we cultivate by mass channels, and the top-level major donors we cultivate with major gift officers. Most organizations make one of these mistakes with their mid-level donors: They treat the mid-level donors the same way they treat general donors. This approach fails to maximize their giving. When you treat people like low-dollar donors (mainly through inexpensive touches), they act more like low-dollar donors. They are less likely to upgrade their giving. They assign the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The most common and destructive error fundraisers make is aiming their messages at themselves -- creating what they believe would motivate them to give. They should be aiming at their donors. And donors are very different from you in nearly every way. Here's help for aiming your work in the right direction so you can raise more money for your cause. And here's that graphic we mention in the podcast: 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: Click... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Some of my most-used writing tools: CoSchedule Headline Analyzer You give it a headline and it quickly analyzes it for word types, length, and category. It gives a grade and offers suggestions. It is clearly geared for blog post headlines, but I use it to analyze other types of headlines too. Hemingway This site (also available as a desktop application) is fanatical about simplicity. Simple copy is almost always better copy. Give Hemingway your copy, and it looks for a number of things, including: Passive voice (you don't need to kill all passive, but if you have a lot of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Whatever you may think of Stephen King's books, he's one of us: A writer who really zeroes in on his audience. That's why he sells so many books. That's also why this recent post at Mental Floss, 10 Writing Tips From Stephen King includes some great advice for fundraisers: "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." "The scariest moment is always just before you start." "You cannot hope to sweep someone else... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of fundraisers feel trapped by fundraising programs that don't work well, but seem unfixable. Any program can be fixed, but you have to see clearly what's wrong. Here's a post from Get Fully Funded that might help you see what needs to change, at 10 Keys to Declaring Your Independence From Mediocre Fundraising: Self-centeredness must be replaced by donor-centeredness. The relationship is worth more than the money. Program goals must be set before fundraising can begin. Status quo in fundraising restricts growth. Working without a plan will never fully fund your mission. Sole-source funding is not a secure... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's some good news that's not so great: Spam now makes up les than half of all the email sent! That's as reported in Quartz at Spam has fallen to a 10-year low and is unlikely to make a comeback. The not-so-good part about this is how barely under half it is: 49.7% in June, according to security company Symantec. But it's good compared to how it was from 2008 to 2010, when around 90% of all email was spam. This is good for anyone who isn't sending spam, and/or would rather not be thought of as a spammer. Because... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're afraid of "donor fatigue," I have some good news for you: There's no such thing. What we sometimes identify as "donor fatigue" is really fundraiser fatigue. It happens when fundraisers get tired of their own messaging. Unwilling to enter our donors' worlds, we stay in our own heads. And make mistakes like these: We create messages that are catered more to our needs than to donors'. We vary our messaging so donors can't figure out what they can do through us. We get "clever" and turn our messages into mind puzzles. We try to bowl them over with... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm working on an invention that will dramatically improve fundraising. It's called the Better Feedback Translator. Here's what it does: When your boss or a board member makes certain comments about your fundraising, the Better Feedback Translator changes what you hear into what they would have said if they understood fundraising. That way, you don't end up making costly and damaging changes to your fundraising messages. Think of the increased revenue! Here are some of the phrases the Better Feedback Translator will change for you: WHEN THEY SAY YOU'LL HEAR That's incredibly corny. That's great! It's going to work like... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Headlines are the thing. Write great headlines and everything else you write will get a lot more action. Here are 5 Ways to Become a Better Headline Writer from Kissmetrics: Know Your Audience Practice Follow Patterns (Headlines that start "How to" work for a reason. Look for common types and imitate those patterns.) Split Test Study Human Psychology These things will also help you with the cousins of headlines, subject lines and envelope teasers. Getting great at writing headlines is one of the best investment you can make in your fundraising. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Book review: Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra Your donors are awesome. They are badass world-changers. Does donating to your organization feel badass? It should! This book can help you change the way donors feel about donating. Giving to your organization could be exciting, life-affirming, beyond-the-normal, something donors are tempted to brag about. Badass. As this excellent book maintains, it involves a change in the way we talk about what we offer donors: It's not about our organization, our cause. It's not about how the donor feels about us. It's about how the donors feels about herself, in he... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Everyone is doing everything online. Forget print. Forget direct mail. Not so fast. Paper-based fundraising is going strong, and there's some new research that might help us understand why, reported at the Neuromarketing Blog: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper. Here's the finding: ... the latest set of experiments showed that physical media caused greater activation of the ventral striatum [part of the reward system of the brain] than digital media. While this doesn't conclusively show that paper is more powerful than digital for stimulating intent to purchase, it is a finding worth exploring in more detail. Paper... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Almost everyone thinks your organization is a fraud. At least, that should be your working assumption. Years of stupid charity scandals (plus media-hyped non-scandals about charity salaries and other bogus topics) have caused a lot of people to distrust the nonprofit sector in general. That includes you. It's one of the main reasons people don't donate: They think you'll either rip them off or incompetently fritter away their generosity. Earning the trust of your donors should be one of your top priorities. Here are some things not to do, from the Bloomerang blog, at 10 Ways to Damage Donor Trust:... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a revealing post at Medium about the beliefs many people carry into the fundraising profession: Five Things They Didn't Tell You When You Signed Up to Fundraise. Have you ever confronted any of these? No one has to give you money. It's none of your business what other people do with their money. What's important to you might not be to others. People are not heartless or ignorant or selfish if they don't give. Never assume the value is obvious. A lot of bad fundraising comes from fundraisers who have not learned these truths: They think they are entitled... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I bet you'd like it more of the people who end up on your landing page actually filled it out. Here's some help from the online commercial world, at the Daily Egg: Quick Copywriting Tweaks Proven to Lift Conversions 30% or More. Try these things on your landing pages: Talk More about Benefits, Less About Your Solutions. (Tell them what's in it for them; not how awesome your programs are.) Use Pictures or Video to Tell the Story. Tweak Your Copy to Remove All Buyer Hesitations. (What doubts might donors have to block their generosity? Watch Your Language. (Be clear,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Your fundraising isn't going as well as it should. You and your colleagues are trying to figure out why. Consensus emerges: Our donors don't realize how effective our programs are. They don't grasp that we're unique in our sector. That we lead in our sector. That our people are teaching the people at other nonprofits how to do it. So you turn up the volume on how awesome your organization is. And your results get even worse. That's because You're having the wrong conversation. Your donors don't give because you're great. They give to put their values to work and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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 Jul 28, 2015 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 Jul 27, 2015 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 Jul 23, 2015 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 Jul 22, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now