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Jeff Brooks
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How much does font-choice matter? Check out this study reported at Futurelab: The Wrong Font Can Kill You. Literally. Your Sales, Too. In a study of patients, when patients were given medical instructions in harder-to-read fonts, they perceived the instructions as difficult. The difficulty of the font made the information more difficult. They were less able to follow the instructions. Are you doing that in your fundraising? If you're using hard-to-read fonts, or other stupid design tricks like reversed-out type, type over color, type over images -- you're making your material "more difficult." Even if the writing is perfectly clear... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. One surefire way to grab donors is to include a great story about an individual. Just drop that story into your appeal, and you're good to go, right? Not exactly. Here's why. In a well-known study, participants were asked to give based on: A story about one starving child. Statistics about starving children A story about a starving child with statistics about starving children. The all-stats/no story version cratered. But so did the story plus the statistics. Even with a story, the focus in an appeal has to remain on... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Want to do better at your fundraising? Here are some hints from 101fundraising, at Five big reasons your fundraising results could be better: You're not speaking to the right people (Your audience isn't "everyone," no matter who you are. Find the niche you're in.) It's all about you (It's about donors. Bragging is not fundraising.) You're not showing an interest in them (Talk to donors about their values, their dreams, their wishes. Not yours.) You're assuming (They know less about your cause than you do.) Dumbing things down (Simple is good. Dumb isn't.) I have a "part b" to #1... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Let's take a look at two headlines: One "clever," the other intelligent. Clever headline This headline is for an ad that ran in publications in India after a deadly cyclone. It's from an Indian relief organization raising funds within India. Like so many clever headlines, it takes an indirect approach to its subject. It doesn't address the reader with the tragedy at hand and give her a good reason to respond. It addresses a side issue -- the low response to the cyclone. It also exhibits another common approach of clever headlines: the old "nobody cares about our cause" trope,... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Now I've heard everything. An article in Nonprofit Quarterly has expanded the definition of the P-words -- Poverty Porn. According to Truth or Charity? The Lure of Poverty Porn for Nonprofits, poverty porn is "using false or exaggerated images in donor appeals as a fundraising tactic." The article cites the same study about images of homelessness that I posted about last week. That study found that most people think the typical homeless person is an older man who sleeps outside. That's the image that typically works best in fundraising, which is no surprise, as it goes straight to the issue... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
This is probably the most common fundraising mistake of all, the main reason many nonprofits struggle to get the support they need: telling donors the wrong story -- a story that's extremely unlikely to connect with or motivate them to give. It's a reasonable error that comes from communicating what seems to make sense to us: Our cause is ultra-important. Our approach to it is effective and awesome. If people just knew those things, they'd be throwing donations at us! All fine, except that approach is out of step with reality. Sasha Dichter's Blog captures the problem precisely at Getting... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
We're taking a look at one of the most destructive forces in all of fundraising: The need we all have to make ourselves the audience for our messages: Fundraising From Yourself -- or FFY. It's the quick and sure path to failure. We'll show you the three signs that FFY is happening in your organization and give you the tools for avoiding this common problem that costs nonprofit organizations millions of dollars every 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... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Program people, those who lead and execute the mission at your organization, can be hard on fundraising. Because their perspective of what your organization does is radically unlike your donors'. I'm talking modes of perception that can barely conceive of one another. If men are from Mars and women from Venus, then program people are from Alpha Centauri and donors are from the tip of a unicorn's ear. The elements that make fundraising work -- especially emotion and simplicity -- seem foolishly off-point to some program people. One program leader once told me, "If we ran the program the way... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Almost everyone is prone to a sense that everything is getting worse all the time. Politics keep getting more stupid. The environment keeps sliding toward some kind of doomsday. Crime, injustice, ignorance, war ... they all seem to be surging. We all need a sense that there's hope after all. The Veritus Group blog notes that donors need it too: Your Donors Need Hope. And your job is to help deliver it to them by showing their giving makes the world better. Here are some ways to give your donors hope: Get out of your office and see what your... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Is your fundraising 100% "accurate"? What exactly would complete accuracy look like? A recent study in the UK (published at Sociological Research Online) pokes a stick into an issue some fundraisers spend a lot of energy worrying about. The study, as reported by Third Sector magazine -- Homelessness charities should stick with stereotypical images of beneficiaries, report says -- asked subjects what homeless people look like. Subjects overwhelmingly identified bearded older men who sleep on the streets. If you've ever done fundraising related to homelessness, this won't surprise you. That's the imagery that works. The "problem" is that older men... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Anyone can write. But it takes something more to write with emotion. Here's some help from the M&R Blog, at Emotional Copywriting Tips for Robots (and Humans): Numbers and statistics lead to people feeling emotional between 1.5%-10% of the time. (That is, numbers are numbing. Using them in fundraising is worse than ineffective; it turns away donors.) Concrete things are better than intangible concepts. (Donors give to make specific things happen.) Find your best time to write. (Writers are not robots; we need the right set of triggers to enable our best work.) Get emotional before you write. (You need... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a good checklist that can help any writer think just a bit more clearly about the job of writing. It's from the Word Count blog: Nine Ideas Writers Need to Give Up: Here they are (with my comments added): Give up the sentiment that writing depends on talent. (Talent is nice. Hard work gets the job done.) Give up on the whim of inspiration. (Be a professional and bring you're a-game to work every day, even when you aren't inspired.) Give up the opinion that you don't need an editor. Give up the idea that spending more time at... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a new generation of powerhouse donors coming onto the scene, and they are going to change everything about fundraising. It's Generation Wah -- the incredible generation of super-donors, defined as those born since 2013. Let me be frank with you: If you do not jump aboard the Generation Wah train right now, you are up a terrible creek in a concrete canoe, without a paddle and no life jacket! Your rescue line: My hot-off-the-press white paper, Generation Wah Here are just a few of the jaw-dropping facts you'll learn when you order the white paper: Generation Wah is primed... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you have what it takes to be a game-changer like charity:water? Yes, you absolutely do. The real question is are you willing to do what charity:water does? Most organization are not. Here's what charity:water does that's different, according to npENGAGE, at So, You Want to Be like charity:water? They don't spend all their time and energy describing and explaining themselves. They focus on telling stories about their donors: Most of us in America don't know what it's like to not have access to clean water, but by telling meaningful stories -- stories of those in need and stories of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's help for the most important pages on your website: The landing pages: from Unbounce, Brutally Honest Advice for Better Landing Page Design: Illustrations should be illustrative. Every image tells a story. Make sure you uses images that tell the right story. Want to use video? Either commit or quit. Videos have even more power than images. Don't just use any old video on your landing page. Make sure it specifically supports the action you want people to take on that page. Copy is your first wireframe. Write copy first! That way you know what belongs where. Design for clarity.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Email newsletters can be a powerful tool for engaging with your donors and others. Rich and inexpensive, they can really tighten your relationships. Here are some useful tips from Social Media Marketing Hacks For Nonprofits: Top 5 Nonprofit Email Newsletter Mistakes: Adding total strangers to your list without their permission. (This is spamming. Anyone who does it deserves the bad results that will follow.) Giving Subscribers Content That Isn't That Interesting. Sending Your Newsletter to Everyone. (You have different audiences with different needs. Segment them and create separate, relevant newsletters.) Not Asking People to Take Action. (They can't read your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a sloppy set of assumptions floating around the fundraising community that I believe does deep harm to our work and ourselves. It's the trope that fundraising is basically dishonest, but it has to be that way because donors force it on us. If fundraising were really like that, I'd go find something honest to do, like sell used cars. You can see the "donors make us dishonest" attitude in this recent post at the Guardians' Voluntary Sector Network blog: We must hook donors in but I feel downright sick at the picture charities paint. In charity marketing we know... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
By now just about everyone in fundraising is awake to the importance of donor retention (thanks, in part, to Roger Craver's excellent book, Retention Fundraising). Here's a great post at The Agitator about how to measure retention before it happens: LTV ... The GPS For Fundraisers. You see, retention -- the percentage of donors who give again -- alone only tells you part of what you need to know. The higher the percentage, the better, of course. But what should you do about that? Lifetime Value (LTV; some call it "Long-term Value," meaning the same thing) tells you what donor... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The most important thing you do in, any fundraising situation is the call to action. If the call to action is weak (or non-existent), you're wasting everyone's time -- your own, your donors', and the poor trees who gave their lives for the paper you're misusing. Here's some help on your call to action, from Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog: Five Ways to Sabotage Your Call to Action. Assuming One Size Fits All. Don't send the same message to everyone. Prospects are different from donors. Long-time donors who've supported you for years are different from brand-new donors. Know what kind of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
When people google your organization, there's a good chance they'll end up on your home page. What they do next depends on what they find there. Here are some ideas from the Classy blog: 4 Ways to Engage Donors from Your Nonprofit Home Page. Consider having these things on your homepage: Present a Clear Donate Button. (And if you're serious about getting it clicked, you'll make sure it strongly contrasts with the rest of the page. Don't let the brand police tell you otherwise!) Tell Donors Exactly How to Get Involved. Specific, non-symbolic, non-ambiguous calls to action that they can... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
There are two fundamentally different approaches fundraisers can take to their donors: One stays in the background and empowers the donor to be the hero. The other stands in front and tells the donor to be a good side-kick -- keeping the hero label for himself. One of these raises a lot more money than the other. Do you know which? And do you know which of them you are? 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 Mar 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Colloquial, conversational writing is one of the most important tools for fundraising. If you're an experienced writer, you know how difficult it is to make your writing seem easy, more like casual speech than like professional writing. Here's a great post from Write to Done: Conversational Writing: 10 Tips by Leo Babauta: Listen to yourself talk. Listen to others talk. Read good conversational writing. Write as if you're talking to a close friend. Address the reader directly. Talk in your head as you write. Eliminate formalities. But don't be too informal. Read it out loud when you're done. If it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I spoke recently with Steven Shattuck at Bloomerang TV about well-run nonprofit organzations: (Or watch it here on YouTube.) The conversation is based on material in my book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a milestone worth noting: The youngest Boomers are now 50. They're turning 51 this year. That also means the leading edge of Generation X is turning 50. This is important for fundraisers. All Boomers will soon be in their donor years, which I define as 55 and up. And Gen X is about to ease its way into our portfolio. What does that mean for fundraising? Hard to tell, but we learned something interesting from the onslaught of Boomers over the last few years: Life stage trumps generation. That is, a 65-year-old Boomer donor has a lot in common... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It happens all the time: Executive directors, presidents and vice presidents, board members -- people who have the power to change your fundraising -- can't keep their hands off, and they don't understand the damage they're doing to it. It's hard, because they're used to being asked for their opinions. And they're used to being right -- at least perceived as right. It's even more difficult when they come from backgrounds other than fundraising. The conventions of fundraising can look wrong to them. Not knowing otherwise, they may think you're getting the message horribly wrong. Screwing it up in a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now