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Jeff Brooks
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I have a prediction for you, and I'm pretty sure it's accurate: Some time in the next few months, you will be approached by a weasel. The weasel will look almost exactly human, so you may not notice it's a weasel. This weasel will have a lot of words, and likely some pretty pictures to entice you. It will all boil down to this: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: I can do that for you. The weasel is either a liar or delusional. He can't create a massive viral campaign for you. Nobody can. So how does it get done? The... Continue reading
Posted 15 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
Excerpted from my new book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving. A well-run nonprofit is aligned around fundraising goals If your organization depends on money from fundraising, everyone should have their success, including their compensation, tied to fundraising success. Even if their role in that success may be indirect, it's still critical. If fundraising is going poorly, it's everyone's "fault." It should be more difficult for anyone to get increased rewards or promotions than when fundraising is going well. It needs to be clear that everyone rises or sinks together with their... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Everybody wants space on your homepage, right? So you've settled on a compromise that allows you not to disappoint them: A slider -- a banner that rotates several messages. It's not a good compromise, according to the LeadPages blog at Why Home Page Sliders Are Ineffective. Here's what you get when you put sliders on your homepage: Sliders have low click through rates Sliders aren't often mobile friendly Timing your slider transitions is tough (they tend to move too quickly or too slowly) Sliders hurt your SEO Not good. Self defeating. As with all other forms of communication, you're better... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
In my experience, the top killer of online fundraising is not-quite-right landing pages. It's just hard to get them right, easy, uncluttered, clear, and totally aimed at the donor. The Unbounce blog looked at a lot of landing pages, then commented on them with tough love: 20 Landing Pages Torn Apart. Go read this post. You'll learn a lot. The main problems uncovered were these: The social proof doesn't prove anything The design distracts from the goal The call to action jumps the gun The copywriting isn't compelling The offer isn't clear Thanks to Neuromarketing for the tip. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
How do you connect with Boomers differently from younger donors? There are some key differences that may surprise you. This excellent post from the Engage:Boomers blog outlines some of the cognitive differences between Boomers and younger generations: 6 Ways to Effectively Communicate With People In The Fall & Winter Of Life: Baby Boomers' (50 to 68) intuition may enable them to size up a situation more quickly than young customers might but their cognitive or reasoning processes tends to be slower. Baby Boomers are also more resistant to absolutism. Hyperbole or strongly worded and delivered claims about a product's features... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
One of the main culprits for poor fundraising results is boring fundraising. Here are seven topics to avoid if you don't want to be a boring fundraiser: The things your organization doesn't do. What you don't do is meaningless. Talk about the cool things you do. Staff training. Why would anyone care about the amazing conference someone went to, or somebody's new CFRE? Do your job well and talk about the results. Your philosophy. Philosophy is important, because it guides your actions. Unfortunately, it's also really, really boring. Talk about your actions instead. Your new brand. Yeah, it was a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Disappointed with your email fundraising results? Maybe you're making mistakes that suppress response by keeping your message from connecting with your donors. The M+R blog reveals Our All Time Favorite Terrible Marketing Email Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them: Relying on statistics for emotional impact Being, well, boring Getting real excited about how amazing the organization is and the supporter is just kind of, well, an afterthought Dreading editorial feedback Being shy about donation asks Plus a few more from my experience: Uninteresting subject lines. The donor's inbox is one of the most crowded spaces you'll ever enter. The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Even if you don't have a strong online program with frequent emails, search-engine marketing, and social posting, more and more donors are showing up at your website. That's where they want to give. So you need to get your website working for them. The Philanthropos reveals some of the common errors that undermine your website's ability to serve donors by collecting their gifts, at Other mistakes that undermine your web fundraising: No Benefit for the Donor No Urgency Colors Blend In No Credibility Loaded with Jargon I'll add three more common and costly mistakes: Boring content (not aimed at donors)... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The reasons people give to nonprofits would probably surprise you -- unless you're an experienced fundraising and you've been studying those reasons for a while. Same with marketing. Quite a bit the same. The Bad Language blog has a post (on marketing) about some of those surprises, at 6 eye-opening marketing insights for non-marketers: Features aren't enough, tell a story Heuristics matter (you don't persuade by telling people all the wonderful facts about your program; you need to bring it all together into one statement that they love) Proof points (prove that what you claim is true -- but not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You probably are -- or should be soon -- working on your Holiday Season fundraising. It's a kind of weird: It's the dog days of summer. You're either just back from or about to leave for your vacation. You're outdoors a lot, drinking cold drinks, focusing on relaxation and enjoying yourself. It's about as un-Christmasy a time as there can be. The Holidays are more than anything else a set of feelings. A mood. An experience of the heart. It's hard to re-create that when your surroundings don't support it. Here's a tip: While you prepare for and work on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Your donors love your organization most right after they've given. They feel happy, fulfilled, and magnanimous. When their gift is online, you have one more chance to serve them while they're most likely to interact with you: The "Thank You" page that's generated after they complete the gift. The Nonprofit Tech for Good blog has 6 Fresh Ideas for Your Nonprofit's "Thank You" Landing Page: Prominently feature a "Thank You" video. Add a poll asking donors what prompted them to give. Use images to bring attention to calls-to-action. Add large, colorful social network icons. Enable donors to share their donation... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
How often have you heard alarming statements like this: People are tired of emotional, "manipulative" fundraising. Need to change to a calmer, more fact-based form of fundraising. Extremely bad advice. Follow it, and you can watch your fundraising program shrivel like a garden slug in August. Here's a recent example from the New Internationalist blog: Have the public had enough of manipulative charity marketing? It reports on a forthcoming study that says everyone is mad at international aid fundraisers for the disturbing and negative images and messages they use in fundraising. This "everyone" they talked to is just about ready... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you think of your donors as heroes? How about as superheroes? The 101fundraising blog has some suggestions at Treat donors like the superheroes they are: You write stories about them You ask for their help when in need You smooth the communication with them You keep them in the loop with all developments You prove them you are the right ally to win the battle You should never forget them Here's another way to treat donors as superheroes: Think of your organization has their sidekick. You're not quite as awesome as they are, but you are very helpful, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
User research by the Nielsen Norman Group shows us 5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites: Clearly Explain What the Organization Does. ("On average, it took users about 6 minutes to locate information about the organization’s purpose, which was far too long. A task time of 1 minute for this crucial task would be a more reasonable goal....") Disclose How Donations are Used. ("Those who couldn’t find the information were aggravated and thought the organization was inefficient or trying to bury those details.") Display Third Party Endorsements. Provide a Noticeable and Clear Link to Donate. ("...25% of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
It's the one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your fundraising bottom line: repetition. Or, as Willis Turner in FundRaising Success magazine says, If It's Worth Saying, It's Worth Saying Again. Repetition -- mailing or emailing the same message again -- works: Despite what many people think, simple repetition is one of the most powerful tools in your creative arsenal. The savviest fundraisers use it all the time to ratchet up emotion -- and results -- from their donors. I saw a study once of new direct-mail donors. On average, these donors had received the direct-mail acquisition... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You've probably seen this, as it roars through social media, getting a lot of enthusiasm from word people: Or watch it here. Okay, it's a fun song; it made me laugh. But it's a little bit evil. Because it preys on a weakness we word people have: We think we're superior to other people. The fact that we pay more attention to language gives us no right to label people who don't as "dumb mouth breathers." That's just churlish. It shrivels your soul and probably makes you a weaker writer. Grammar Girl says it best at Weird Al's "Word Crimes"... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic In fundraising appeals, we have a one-track mind. We ask for money, but rarely if ever for donors' time as volunteers. Asking donors to give their time may increase their giving, research shows. In one study, The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect, people were split into two groups. One group was asked how many hours they'd be willing to give as volunteers to a certain charity, while the other group wasn't asked about volunteering at all. Then both groups were asked how much money they'd give. The people who weren't asked about volunteering gave... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
If your message to donors is all about how great your organization is, how deserving you are of support, you aren't really giving people a reason to give. Real fundraising is showing donors how your organization connects with the donor's personal mission and values. You recognize how great they are, how important their mission -- and you seek to work with them. Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of people in nonprofit organizations struggle with fundraising, because it feels to them like begging: socially questionable, awkward, ethically gray. They shouldn't. Motivating people to give is itself one of the most important things you do. In fact, it may be the most important thing you do, given the positive impact you have on your donors. The Veritus Group blog says Donors Need to Give, More than You Need the Money, and they're right. Here's why: Giving Subdues the Power of Money. (Money can wreck your life. Really. But giving it away can short-circuit its power.) Giving Blesses... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A well-made giving page is probably the more important element of successful online fundraising. Here are 5 Proven Ways to Increase Online Donations from the Constant Contact blog: Make it ridiculously easy (as few steps as possible, no fields that aren't completely necessary, no requiring them to log in) Make it mobile Make it match the rest of your website (in fact, make it match what you're doing in direct mail too -- there's a good chance that's what sent them there!) Make it urgent Make it recurring Take a close and critical look at your giving pages. Do They... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Simplicity is one of the greatest virtues of fundraising copy. Master simplicity, and you're well on your way to real mastery. Copyblogger has some hints for simplicity aimed at commercial writing, but they work well for fundraising. Read 6 Steps for Writing Simple Copy That Sells: Have only one goal (seriously: just one) Only have one audience Make it conversational … by actually conversing Avoid jargon and "insider" language Cut your adjectives in half and your adverbs altogether (almost) Cut 'til it hurts Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You probably had an English teacher at some point who sang the praises of a little white book titled The Elements of Style, often referred to by its authors, Strunk and White. If you were forced to buy this book, I urge you to free yourself from its clutches. If someone recommends it, telling you it's a type of holy book for writers, politely say no thanks. Strunk and White has more bad writing advice per page than almost any other book published. Follow it, and you'll hamper your style and become a weaker fundraising writer. Not all of its... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Even if you aren't aware of it, you have a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for your donors. It's the thing that will cause them to give (or fail to cause them to give). Looking at the challenge of building a strong UVP in commercial sales, the Unbounce blog notes that we sometimes drive away sales by getting the UVP wrong. Why Your Unique Value Proposition is Killing Your Landing Page Conversions and How to Fix It: Quickly and clearly convey the value of what you are offering. State benefits as well as features. Address the key needs and pain points... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
My cat's food smells so bad it almost makes me gag. Judging by the odor, it's "Mixed Rotting Fish Guts." But the picture on the can looks like a wonderful salmon steak, cooked and ready to eat. Since I'm the one buying the cat food, the manufacturer knows they'd better appeal to me on the can. Once the can is open, it's all for the cat. And she looooves Mixed Rotting Fish Guts. It's the light of all nine of her lives. That's a lot like fundraising, as noted by Seth Godin at Cat food is for people: It's easy... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Sometimes you feel like a wrung-out sponge. No more ideas, no more creative energy, no more inspiration. That sucks. Here are some ways to get the creativity back, from Geoff Livingston's blog, at 15 Ways to Restore Your Creativity: Take a Vacation Explore a Different Creative Path Meditate Go to a Live Event Watch a Movie Hike in Some Place of Natural Beauty Take a Nap Watch the Sun Rise or Set Journal Play with Your Kids (if you have them) Admire Someone Else's Work Visit a Museum Play a Game Work Out Enjoy Time with Your Partner Here are... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now