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Jeff Brooks
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What's really going on when you motivate donors to give? According to the Veritus Group blog, something deeply spiritual happens. Read The Spirituality of Major Gift Fundraising. The post is about major donor fundraising. But the spirituality of fundraising and giving is no different for any kind of fundraising from any kind of donor. With major donors, you get to watch it happen in person. For the rest of us, you just have to believe it's real: People need to give. It's in our DNA. We will die inside if we don't give of ourselves. [Fundraising] also transforms the life... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. That fundraising message you just wrote -- it's going to get your donors involved and engaged, right? If you're ready to learn the cold truth, try this: Call a donor out of the blue and start asking questions. You may be shocked. You're likely to find out that your donor: Doesn't know what your nonprofit does beyond something hazy like helping people. And she doesn't really care to know more. Doesn't care what your mission statement says. Hasn't read it, doesn't plan to. Doesn't know what your programs are or... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising is not unlike courtship, or at least dating. Good dating advice is a lot like good fundraising advice, as you can read in this post from Marketing the Arts to Death: Dating Advice for Arts Marketers. It's aimed at arts marketers, but I think you'll see how the advice works for fundraisers -- in the arts and beyond: Look Nice -- But Don't Overdo It. Keep it simple. Talk Normal. Stay away from your in-house jargon and over-written copy. Don't Talk About Yourself. Talk about your donor. Don't Lecture. You don't to educate everyone. Really, you don't. Ask. Donors... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
I've been inspired by these excellent videos, and I think you might be too. Give yourself a little time and enjoy them! 1. Paul Zak on the future of storytelling A look into the brain science of charitable giving. Here are the two ingredients every story needs in order to move people to give. 6 minutes. View it on its own page 2. Dan Pallotta on how the way we think about charity is wrong Pallotta shows how our industry's focus on overhead dooms many nonprofits to ineffectiveness. Don't get caught in the nonprofit starvation cycle that comes from spending... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
So many fundraisers are that guy. You know the one: The guy who corners you and goes on and on about himself. After a few minutes you're wondering if you can escape by chewing off your leg. That guy doesn't realize he's that guy. A lot of fundraisers don't either. In both cases, they honestly believe going on and on about themselves is as interesting to others as it is to themselves. Hands-On Fundraising has some reality-check advice: You don't want to be that guy. Change the fundraising conversation: Your case isn't about how swell your organization is. It's not... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Itching for a website redesign? Careful: It might not be a smart move. According to research from the Nielsen Norman Group -- reported at Radical Redesign or Incremental Change? -- radical website changes sometimes leave users (your donors) confused, unhappy, and less responsive. Incremental improvements to your website might be a better way to go: You may be bored with your current site, but customers likely aren't: they usually don't sit and stare at the site for extended periods every day. [U]sers tend to like designs that are safe and familiar. So hold your horses. There are some situations where... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
What makes a strong fundraising writer? Here are some good hallmarks from the Copywrite, Ink blog, at Five Qualities That Set Successful Commercial Writers Apart: Invest In First Impressions. (They spend a lot of energy writing headlines.) Think Visually. (They know that words alone don't always make the case.) Understand People. Plan Strategically. (They're obsessed with the audience, the offer, and the context.) Love The Craft. All of these things apply to good fundraising writers. They are worth cultivating. Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The importance of getting people to click links online has thrown the science of headline writing into high gear, and this has given us some important clues about the words that motivate people to action. A post in the KISSmetrics blog gives us three important things to think about: Hate this Headline? You'll Probably Share the Story. It's about headlines and links, but it can apply to any fundraising we write. There are three things to keep in mind: Make it about pleasure with words that invoke happiness, fun, belonging, awe, love, positivity, strength, empowerment Make it about pain with... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If you've ever looked at your own fundraising at inwardly shuddered at how unattractive it is, congratulations! You may have a winner on your hands. There's a strong inverse correlation between the likability of a message and its effectiveness. Read this recent article in Forbes: Is The Most Annoying Super Bowl Ad Ever Also The Most Effective? A 2009 Super Bowl ad for CareerBuilder (you can see it below) has been called the one of the "most annoying ads of all time" and even "the worst ad ever." Critics and ordinary viewers alike really hate this ad. But guess what:... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Donor acquisition -- in any medium -- has a fundamentally different "ecosystem" form donor cultivation. Knowing the difference will make you far more effective in both. We discuss the differences in response numbers, cost, messaging, and long-term impact between acquisition and cultivation. 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 Feb 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a good challenge from The Digital Drip: 5 Ways Fundraisers Can Start Thinking Like Donors: Remember what it's like to be a donor. Treat your communications as a mirror you hold up in front of your donor. Embrace your emotional (right-brained) side. Consider the questions they are asking themselves when they get your appeal. Think of a problem you can let your donors solve. I always make these assumptions about donors: They know a lot less about your cause than you do. They're paying far less attention to what you have to saying than you are. You can't educate... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If there's any magic wand in fundraising, here's what it is: matching funds. Offering to match donors' giving is the closest thing we have to an automatic, easy winner. I'm not the only one saying this. The Avalon blog says the same at Yes, You Need That Matching Gift. The post cites a matching grant appeal that beat a regular non-match like this: 37% higher response rate 54% more revenue 63% higher average gift I can vouch for that. That's the neighborhood of improvement you can expect when you go out with a matching fund offer. So find some funds... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Sending your donors flowers are chocolates might be a little creepy. But with St. Valentine's Day just around the corner -- a day when we focus on love -- do your donors know you love them? Do you go out of your way to give them good experiences with you? Do you say thank you when they donate -- quickly, relevantly, and sincerely? Do you show them what an amazing difference they make through their giving? Or do you mainly tell them how awesome you are? How effective your programs and methodologies are? How you're the best and brightest around?... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm honored that my recent book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand, has been chosen as one of CausePlanet's top books for 2014. Read about it (and the other award winners) at CausePlanet's Choice Awards – Top Books from 2014: Brooks shares an unvarnished, refreshing look at how to captivate more donors with accessible ideas that specifically work for nonprofits. He delivers new ways to connect your brand with your donors in a manner they won't forget. If you haven't yet read The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand, here are three reasons you'll be glad you did: 1. It could save your career Branding... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Have you ever been thanked in a way that made you feel not so thanked? It's what happens when the thanker uses the occasion not to thank you, but to remind you how awesome they are. Here's an example I came across recently. I've changed the name of the organization to protect them from embarrassment... Thank you for your gift of $39.00. Your generous donation at this critical time will help Awesome R Us create real and lasting solutions to dire poverty. I hope you take great pride in your contribution and the work that it supports. As one of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's some good news, from Michael Rosen Says: Breaking News: Big Planned Giving Myth Busted!. Many organizations believe that when a donor makes a planned giving commitment, you should "leave them alone" -- they've their bit, and they're all tapped out. If you ask them for a normal gift, something awful will happen. A study found otherwise. Average annual charitable giving before an estate gift commitment: $4,210. Average annual charitable giving after a commitment: $7,381. That's right: giving went up after the planned giving commitment. The donors became more involved, While making a planned gift commitment does not necessarily cause... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Giving Tuesday in 2014: Up 63% over 2013! An amazing grand total of $45.7 million! Where's the champagne? The next Giving Tuesday is a long way off: December 1. But it's not too early to take a closer look at it, as The Agitator did at Why Should I Care? Why should you care? As The Agitator points out, charitable giving from individuals last year was around $241 billion. That's $660 million per day on average. So the $45.7 million attributed to Giving Tuesday? Not quite so impressive. It's about 7% of the giving of one average day. The hype... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Before you know anything else about fundraising, there are three basic assumptions you should know about it: Fundraising is all about specificity. It's the specific change you're asking the donor to help make with their gift. Abstractions and generalities fail to move donors to action. Fundraising is about building relationships. Don't think of donors as ATMs that dispense money from time to time. Think of them as friends who do cool things with you. It's a two-way relationship. Both sides give and both sides receive. Fundraising transforms donors. When you know they amazing things that happen in their lives when... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
There's something amazing about this direct-mail donor acquisition piece from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I'll bet fundraisers at 8 out of 10 nonprofits would be forbidden by their own brand guidelines from doing the brilliant thing this envelope does. Can you guess what I'm referring to? From the kids of St. Jude... Think about that. Most nonprofits would insist that the labels in this mailing are not from the kids. "They're from us, the organization!" Which is literally true in the budget and the who-did-the-work sense. But in the donors' world, it really is from the kids. To St.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The online percentage of people who make it all the way from receiving your email to making a gift in response to it is downright discouraging. If it's 0.1% -- one in a thousand -- we're happy. If that was happening in direct mail, it would be time to shut down the shop and go into exile. A lot of the fault is the medium. Email and the web are "cool" (as in not warm), low-emotion media. But there are things you can do to improve that final step of the online giving process -- the step where they fill... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I love this list from Get Fully Funded: Top Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies for 2015. These are no-nonsense things you can start doing right now -- and they will make a difference: Focus on WHY, not HOW. Talk about the impact you're having, not the process for how you get it. Refocus the communication. Stop talking about "we, we, we." Give the donor a great experience. Thank them warmly and sincerely, and help them feel confident they made a good decision to give. Ask often. Simplify. Eliminate every activity that loses money or generates less than stellar ROI. Leverage the "Tom... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I recently connected with Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 in a Google Hangout. We talked for about 12 minutes about the future of fundraising -- a topic I care a lot about. Here's our discussion: (Or watch it here on YouTube.) Here is the See3 blog post on the conversation: The Future of Fundraising: A Conversation with Jeff Brooks. Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Drayton Bird posted something cool: Who To Read If You Want To Write Better Advertising. Here's his list: Jane Austen Evelyn Waugh P G Wodehouse F Scott Fitzgerald Elmore Leonard What? Five fiction writers will help you write better ads? It's true. He suggests these writers because they have good writing style. Graceful, strong, euphonious, clear style. You probably don't want to write a fundraising letter than sounds like Jane Austen. But if you read Austen and her style sinks into your bones -- you'll write better fundraising. Let me suggest another author to read: Richard Brautigan. His best-known (and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Are there people on your team who makes changes to your fundraising with the goal of making the message more persuasive to themselves? I bet there are. Most teams have them. Whether they're inexperienced new staff or the chairman of the board, they're costing you a lot. "I like it" fundraising is not really fundraising at all. Whether someone on the team likes it or not should have no bearing. In fact, when insiders like it, it's almost certainly not on target for your donors. That's why "I like it" fundraising is nothing but a form of entertainment. A very... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker Like a lot of writers, I'm a sucker for a book that seems as if it'll help me write better. Thing is, a lot of books that promise this don't really help. In fact some of them seem designed to make me a much worse writer -- stilted, robotic, monotonous, and confused. Especially stylebooks. While some stylebooks are helpful, even mission-critical for writers, many are a crazed hodge-podge of duh advice ("omit needless words"), grammar myths ("don't split infinitives), and flat-out terrible advice... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now