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Jeff Brooks
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There are two opposite impulses that almost all fundraisers fall prey to at some time or another. They are: Educating donors Abstraction They are guaranteed response-crushers. And the temptation to do both are powerful. With real-life examples, we'll show you how to avoid both errors and keep your fundraising strong. 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. Continue reading
Posted 21 minutes ago at Future Fundraising Now
Almost everyone says donor-focused fundraising is a good thing. But look into what exactly donor-focused fundraising means, and one of your most common findings will be this: So-called donor focused-fundraising is fundraising with a style and approach that the fundraiser feels good about. Which isn't donor-focused at all. In fact, it's probably donor-ignoring. Possibly even anti-donor fundraising. When you really focus on donors, you slam straight into the truth that you aren't your donors and your donors aren't you -- thus aiming at them means missing yourself. And vice-versa. True donor-focused fundraising will probably not appeal to you. That's one... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Charitable giving is growing at a faster rate (up 7% last year) than giving in general (up 1-3%). What does that tell us? Well, according to npENGAGE at What's Really Driving the Increase in Online Giving? it's not because we're getting better at online fundraising. The growth is mostly "cannibalization from other channels." And that's because older donors are increasingly online. Which is dynamite news! The dependable older people who are the life-blood of charitable giving are moving into the rich and cost-effective digital channel. ... to increase your online giving you need to continue to invest in direct mail... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
If you're having trouble raising funds, you might be tempted to blame it on donors: They're too uneducated. Too selfish. They don't get it! Blaming your donors is a lot like digging a hole: The more you do it the hard it is going to be to get out! Your attitude toward donors will get worse and worse, and you'll be less and less able to actually connect with these excellent people. So instead of blaming donors, look at yourself. Most fundraising failure is self-inflicted. That might be what's making it hard for you. The MarketSmart blog reveals a number... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
How can you tell if a fundraising consultant is lying? His lips are moving. Sorry. Wrong joke. I should emphasize that fundraising consultants are fine, upstanding people. They tell the truth literally dozens of times every year. I myself am a fundraising consultant, and you know you can trust me. But many consultants have the tendency to -- well, let's call it overstate things in order to land a client. Here are five warning signs that a consultant is not quite 100% above-board with you: When their pitch to you is a powerful new way to get young donors. You... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
CORRECTION: The fundraisers we choose for free consultations will not be chosen randomly, but by how interesting their answers are to us! Sorry for the incorrect information.
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. Facts, explanations, information. This is the stuff you'd think donors would welcome. After all, how else are they supposed to know how many orphans there are in Africa, why there's an orphan crisis, what caused it, how it can be solved, what the programs are, how they work, and on and on? Problem is, if we go down that road in fundraising, we run into this: confirmation bias. It's people's tendency to accept information supporting our own beliefs and reject everything else. Of course,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy's house is finally dropped to earth by the tornado, and she cautiously opens the door to see where she is? As the door opens, you see outside -- and it's blazing with saturated, bright color. And it's only then that you realize the film to this point has been a sort of sepia monotone. It's a breathtaking moment of change. And something like it is happening to me right now. I have joined the staff and management team of Moceanic. That's right, I'm leaving TrueSense Marketing (whom I like, admire,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Is your fundraising stuck in low-involvement mode, where you have to communicate with your donors a lot, and you get low response rates, low average gifts, and have low donor retention? If so, you aren't alone. That's the way a lot of fundraising works these days. Transactional. Impersonal. And it just barely works. In the old days, it worked quite well. Which is why so many organizations use it. They seem to hope the clock will magically turn back to those days. There's a better way. You might call it relational fundraising. Donor focused. Or, as the MarketSmart blog calls... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
A strong brand can improve fundraising. A strong brand rarely happens by accident. It's all to easy to undermine your brand by accident, as noted on HubSpot's Marketing Blog, at 6 Branding Mistakes Undermining Your Image: Inconsistency Across Different Platforms and Media (While I agree this is a problem, there's an almost exact problem that's even more damaging in fundraising: Extreme consistency. Variety is the spice of life in fundraising, and testing proves it. If everything you do looks the same, fundraising results will drop.) Relying Too Heavily on Design Trends (That look that's sooooo cool and trendy today is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Some of the strongest fundraising is connected to specific holidays. Some of the most ineffective fundraising is also connected to specific holidays. The special edition podcast will show you how to put holidays to work for you. And when not to do it at all. 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 Apr 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm sure nobody is surprised that the way a company makes you feel has a lot to do with how likely you are to keep doing business with it. That's what a new study, reported at the Customer Experience Matters Blog shows: Examining 10 Emotions, 8 Interactions, and Resulting Loyalty. This chart shows 10 emotions consumers used to describe how they felt after interactions with companies. Excited, Appreciated, and Happy lead to the most loyalty. Angry and Disappointed lead to the worst loyalty. Now the research is looking at interactions with companies, which have a high capacity to torment and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Some folks are virtually apoplectic about Charity:Water's claim to donors that 100% of their donation can go to clean water projects. It's sleight of hand! It's dishonest! I'll grant it's something like sleight of hand. But there's nothing dishonest about it. It's smart, donor-focused marketing. It's frankly puzzling that more nonprofits don't do something like it. Charity:Water is completely up-front about what they call their 100% Model, which says, "Hey, some people like to fund overhead. Others like to pay for water projects. Take your choice. Life is good!" (My words, not theirs.) What's sneaky about letting donors fund their... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Children's books -- the good ones, anyway -- work because they realize kids won't put up with the crap many authors want to shovel onto them. The story has to stay simple, on-target, and focused on the reader. Fundraising -- the good stuff, anyway -- is just like that! As noted at the Communicate! Blog, at 5 lessons for nonprofits from children's books. The important conclusion -- one that can make any fundraiser who grasps it into a superhero -- is this: Great writers make us feel that the ending of the story depends on us. ... you want your... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
When I was a kid, I loved one of the dumbest TV shows ever created: Gilligan's Island. In case you don't know the premise of the show, there wasn't much to it: a boat with a group of suspiciously varied archetypal passengers was wrecked on an uninhabited island. Every program involved their attempts to get off the island. Most episodes, they almost made it -- but something would go wrong. With such a diversity of people you'd think they'd have what it took to get them off the island. Those wacky castaways were a lot like us fundraisers. We think... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I was in Uganda, gathering stories on behalf of a client. At that time, Uganda was Ground Zero of the AIDS epidemic. The disease had devastated parts of the country, killing nearly all adults under 60. The tranquil beauty of the countryside gave the impression of the richness of life. The reality was a place as ruined as if there'd been a nuclear holocaust. I was visiting some of the hardest-hit communities. We saw no adult men or women, other than white-haired elderly ones -- but there were children everywhere. Most of my interviews were with older women. They'd ended... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Planned giving (also called legacy giving in many places) is one of the most important things you should be working on. It's also one of the hardest of fundraising challenges to think clearly about. Two reasons it's so wrapped in confusion: The number of donors who participate is small. So small, that on a statistical basis, it's pretty much zero. But on a revenue basis, it's huuuuge -- bigly huge! Years, often decades, can go by before your activity pans out in the form of revenue. And often, you don't even know you've made the "sale" at the time you... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
To hear some people talk about it, you'd think that Boomers are now shuffling en masse out of this mortal life and being replaced by fresh new Millennials. (In this scenario, the 65 million people of Generation X seem to have gone missing.) If you're buying this demographic version of the Brooklyn Bridge, your fundraising is going to suffer. Because they Boomers (as a group) aren't going anywhere for a long time. In fact, they're already the majority of charitable donors. Check out these facts from the Masterworks blog, comparing Boomers with Millennials: Ignore Us Boomers At Your Own Peril.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
The most impactful element of any direct mail project is the teaser -- what you put on the outer envelope. We'll share what works, what never works, and the surprising "most likely to succeed" approach. We'll also discuss email subject lines -- a closely related topic with some strong similarities to direct mail teasers. 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. Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Thanking your donors right can have a major impact on whether they keep on giving. Thanking them wrong could makes them even less likely to choose you as a long-term cause of choice. The ifundraiser blog has some help for donor thanking practices to avoid, at A bit of bother: Don't take too long to respond. Don't just send a letter written a year ago. Don't think of your thank you as an afterthought. Don't start the letter with thank you. Don't decide not to thank someone because their gift is below say £5, or even offer donors not to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
File this under so that's why it is the way it is. It's widely noted that there's a strong inverse correlation between donor age and their average gift: The older the donors, the lower the average gift. The Analytical Ones reports a study that throws interesting light on this phenomenon at Granny's $5 birthday surprise won't cut it any longer. Donors were asked, "What is the minimum gift you could make to an organization and actually make a difference?" Here are their answers, by age group: 70+: $35 55-70: $68 under 55: $171 That the numbers fall that way isn't... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
There was a discussion on Twitter the other day about the word partner, used as a verb. As in, "Will you partner with us on this important project?" Lisa Sargent was advising against it. I think any real writer (like Lisa) has a flinch reaction to partner as a verb, because it's abstract and jargony. But someone else in the conversation noted that he uses it all the time in fundraising, and is doing just fine, thank you. Which viewpoint is correct? Is partner-as-verb terrible for fundraising -- or harmless, maybe even good? I've never tested it. But I've tested... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here it is: The worst fundraising mistake is confusing yourself with your donors. This is the error behind nearly all crappy and unsuccessful fundraising. When you think your donor is you, you'll spend all your energy marketing to yourself. Which can be fun, but doesn't work. Remember that your donor is different from you. She knows less (or rather, she knows different things). She's probably quite a bit older than you. She's paying less attention than you are. When you ignore those differences, you will miss the mark. The good fundraisers spend a lot of energy getting into the hearts... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. In an interesting post, To PS? Or not to PS?, fundraising expert Tom Ahern raised the topic of the P.S. in fundraising letters. He points out that the P.S. in most fundraising appeals simply reiterates the ask, but that Mal Warwick thinks this is a mistake. Mal says to use this space to add some additional information instead of just restating the offer. Question is, why do fundraising letters have a P.S. that just repeats the offer? This is something you wouldn't do in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
We don't have any dramatic stories to tell! How can we tell great stories? We don't work with babies or puppies! We have no way to be emotional. Have you heard or said things like this? It's flat-out wrong. If you have no drama or emotion to share with donors, it's because you're making one (or both) of these mistakes: 1. You're looking at processes, not outcomes Let's say your organization works to advocate for low-income housing in your community. What you do: Make phone calls. Write emails. Publish studies. Attend meetings. Nope: No drama! But that stuff is the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now