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Jeff Brooks
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Here are 12 fundraising tips -- most of them super-easy and ready to try immediately -- that can boost your fundraising results, this holiday season or any other time of year. 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 yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Tired of your ugly old website design? Ready for a beautiful redesign? Think twice before you do it. As The Daily Egg blog notes, it might not be as bad as you think it is: 5 Reasons Why Your Ugly Website Is Actually Okay. Your ugly website might be just fine: Your design is distraction free. Your site is functional. Your audience doesn't care. You'll lose enormous amounts of traffic. You will lose valuable branding power. Ugly is in the eyes of the beholder. And it doesn't drive away donors. If your website is confusing, dysfunctional, or missing key ingredients... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's something wild from recent (but not yet published) study reported at Neuromarketing: Including the recipient's first name in a reminder text message for medical appointments cut no-shows by 57%. Here's the wilder part: There was no impact when they used the patient's full name ("Robert Jones") or last name with title ("Mr. Jones"). It was first name only that made the difference. That might work for you. Test it! Not only in text messages, but email and even direct mail. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The expert was telling the audience of fundraisers that they should not tell the most exciting stories about their work, but their most "average" stories. Reason: the exciting stories are "outliers" -- not real representations of what you do. And ... well ... donors don't respond to outliers? He never quite made it clear what the downside of the exciting stories really is, other than that they're less common than the average stories. That expert has never had to raise a dollar for charity. If he had, he wouldn't be giving such terrible advice. Advice that makes complete sense in... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Steve got a piece of direct mail that made him angry. He wrote about it at Oneicity blog, at Fundraising as extortion. It was one of those "if you give now, we'll never ask again" pieces, this one from CARE. (A number of organizations use the tactic.) Steve calls this extortion, and he has some very strong arguments against it: ... CARE is making the tragic, but common, mistake of not making this acquisition kit about how I can help a person. No story of the kind of person whose life is changed. No personal connection with someone I could... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
When someone tells you "direct mail is dead," they're giving you some valuable information: They're telling you they don't have a clue. Direct mail isn't dead. It isn't dying. It isn't even sick, as the Civil Society Fundraising Blog says at Direct mail isn't dying -- but it is changing. The main change is that direct mail now works with other channels. Donors glide easily between different channels, doing what works for them: The physical impact of a piece of addressed mail, if it is relevant and compelling, can be even greater in a world where mail is becoming a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The average gift of new donors was too low. We were asking for $15, $25, $35, $50, and $100. We were getting on average $18. At that average, it was taking too long for the fundraising program to start producing net revenue. The development director had a brilliant idea: Ask for more. He told us to change our array of ask amounts to $30, $50, $75, $100, and $150. What happened? Two things: Response fell off the table. Not surprising. When you raise the bar, fewer people jump over it. Sometimes, that's okay -- you lose volume, but gain enough... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Jargon can kick your butt. Here's evidence from Michael Rosen Says: One Word is Costing Your Fundraising Effort a Fortune. What's the word? "Bequest." That's right. In a survey, 23% of respondents were "interested now" in "making a gift to charity in my will." Only 12% were "interested now" in "making a bequest gift to charity." Why? Because "bequest" is what we call it. Not what they call it. It's our internal jargon, so often used that many of us have no inkling that it's not the word normal people use. Jargon is harmless, even good, when you and your... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Once again, a self-appointed millennial tells us how we're doing everything wrong, this time using the valuable space of The Agitator: 'Millennial' Rants. Don't pay too much attention to any self-appointed spokesperson (of any age) who wants to tell you everything you're doing wrong and thus failing to reach his generation. The typical spokesperson message goes like this: Everything about fundraising is wrong, and it needs to be changed. If stop being wrong about everything, millennials will suddenly become great donors. It wont' matter that in doing so we lose the current generation of faithful elderly donors -- because you'll... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. In a logical world, the bigger the problem is, the more donors would give to solve it. But people aren't logical. That's part of what makes us so much fun! You've probably heard about the identifiable-victim effect. It tells us that donors will give more to help a single victim than to help many victims. The typical explanation is that statistics blunted the emotional impact of the story. What's really at work, according to recent research, is donors' feeling about how much their gifts will do. In one test, the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Re-posted by popular demand! The coming weeks are the probably the most important of the year for your fundraising. Here are practical tips for both direct mail and online fundraising that can make the most of the generosity your donors feel as the year comes to an end. 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 Dec 4, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The Grizzard Blog shares one of those scary pieces of knowledge that live in the major donor world: Stop Mailing The Major Donors! Actually, don't stop mailing the major donors. The post reports on a test where five hundred $500+ donors were sent a list of the 12 direct mail appeals they were scheduled to receive in the coming year. They were given the chance to opt out of as many of those 12 as they liked. If they didn't respond, they'd get all 12. 37%, of those donors returned instructions. The highest number of appeals any of them selected... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to see a truly bad landing page? Go to the LeadPages Blog post, See The Worst Landing Page Ever Created. You'll want to see the examples, but here are ten things wrong with this worst landing page ever created: Left-Aligned Opt-In Box Videos/Images Not Loading Ignoring Design Space Dimensions Too Many Calls to Action Too Much Information Bad Copy Distracting Design "Taking Page" (pages that have an opt-in form in plain sight. Bad Testimonials (boring or vague) Slow Loading Time If you're making these mistakes on your fundraising landing pages, it's costing you. Landing pages are among the most... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The most active ingredient in your direct mail piece is the response device. Here's an education in response devices from Clairification: How Your Nonprofit Appeal Response Device is Like Cheese. (It's like cheese because it "stands alone." Get it?) Include a compelling photo that tells a story. Put a heading on the reply card such as "Yes! I want to feed hungry children!" Include a big check-off box next to your heading. Include a succinct one-sentence summary of your case using active verbs. Show the specific impact of gifts at different levels. Pre-print the donor's name and address on the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Yesterday, we looked at address-label fundraising and the frequent error people make about them: I don't like them, so they don't work, and they're a stupid way to raise funds. Address labels can work, and often do. Simply writing them off because you hate them would be a big mistake, a classic "everybody-is-exactly-like-me" fallacy. Labels aren't for everyone, and not the right choice all the time. But here's what I can tell you about them: Address labels and other "freemiums" (things sent to donors or prospective donors up-front and unrequested) are common in direct mail. That means many lists on... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Interesting discussion on re:charity, at Why Do Charities Send Address Labels and 4 More Thoughts. It started when a Canadian lawyer kvetched about getting address-label mailings from nonprofits. He makes the common error almost everyone makes about address labels in fundraising: He thinks if he doesn't care for them they are a failing tactic being used stupidly. I can't vouch for all fundraisers. Some may be using labels in stupid, wasteful ways. But not the fundraisers I know. Address labels are a legitimate way to raise funds. They work. They don't work exactly the way other types of mailings work... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Sometimes, writing is hard. Painful. Fruitlessly time-consuming. Here's one way to make it less hard. (I'll never claim there's anything that makes it easy.) It's freewriting. Freewriting is to writing what exercise is to physical health. It's a way to condition and strengthen your writing "muscle." Freewriting was developed and popularized on college campuses by Peter Elbow. You can read about freewriting and some other good writing techniques in his book Writing Without Teachers. Here's how you do it: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Start writing. Don't stop until time is up. Don't pause to think. Don't read what... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A donor writes a letter to the president of the organization. It's an articulate critique of what the donor dislikes about their fundraising: It's simplistic, repetitious, and emotional. What do you do? What do you say? We read an actual letter from a real donor and talk through the right -- and wrong -- response. There's a disastrously bad response that many organizations make to letters like this. There's also an affirming, correct, and revenue-enhancing response. 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... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
It seems the charity watchdogs have some new bad advice for fundraisers. GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator are telling us what we shouldn't say in fundraising: Nonprofits: Ban These Phrases from Your Vocabulary. The phrases they'd like us to ban: "Only X% of your gift goes to overhead." "Only X cents on the dollar go to overhead costs." It's almost refreshing, really. After years of beating the overhead drum and successfully training donors to look at overhead percentage as a measure of charity deservingness -- they've finally seen the light and changed their minds. Which is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
If there's a "charitable giving chemical," it's oxytocin. When produced in the brain, it enhances empathy. One of the most important drivers of giving. A recent post at the HBR Blog reports some recent research on the type of storytelling that's best at producing oxytocin in the audience: Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling. The "trick" is tension: ... in order to motivate a desire to help others, a story must first sustain attention -- a scarce resource in the brain -- by developing tension during the narrative. If the story is able to create that tension then it is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Is online writing the revenge of the students? It might be, according to the M+R blog post Your Middle School Teacher May or May Not Be Horrified: 6 Rules for Online Writing. Here are some characteristics of online writing: And yes, if you want to, you can start a sentence with a conjunction. Sentence fragments? The best! A voice that is passive is the worst! (I disagree with this one. Passive voice is a perfectly good tool, and skillful writers use it all the time. Good writing is made up of 10% to 20% passive sentences. The colloquial tone we... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger Brian Tucker, Director of Digital Strategy at TrueSense Marketing When I was young, my grandmother gave me an orange tree. At first, I was excited to have my own oranges straight from the backyard. The tree was planted in the perfect spot, and I watered it every day. The tree began to grow. But then I lost interest, and watered it less frequently. The tree produced one sad little orange. Without proper care, it didn't stand a chance. Sadly, many nonprofit organizations treat their email files the same way. Initially, the plan is executed with excitement. But... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Ego is one of the top killers of effective fundraising and marketing. The blog Marketing the Arts to Death takes a look at this very serious problem at Arts Leaders' Egos and Bad Arts Marketing. It's not just arts organizations that suffer from this. Any nonprofit that has executives who think if their material makes them feel good then it's good is probably churning out bad, ego-driven materials that don't work. Here's what happens when the ego-driven executive gets involved: They don't really know what professional, customer-centered marketing should look like, and since there's no one to stop them, they'll... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The advice goes something like this: If the salutation on your direct mail letter is Dear Friend -- rather than the donor's actual name -- fire and brimstone will fall on your head, your donors will utterly reject your message and everything else you do, and you'll wake up one day in a frozen ditch in Manitoba and ask yourself why you did such a foolish thing. You'd have to be a complete idiot to use non-personalized salutations, eh? Not really. I've tested it many times, and I can tell you: The choice of a personalized message or a non-personalized... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
It's pretty straightforward. Copy that moves people to action has a few key attributes. Here's what they are according to the KISSmetrics blog at Four Absolute Essentials of High-Converting Copy: Clear. Casual. Killer headlines. Scannable. That's true online or off. If you want your writing to have impact on people's behavior, that's how to write it. Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now