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Jeff Brooks
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A well-built matching funds offer can raise 10% to 50% more revenue than a similar message without a match. But first, you have to know how to build a matching offer. This free e-book form TrueSense Marketing reveals tested and proven techniques for fielding a successful matching funds campaign in any medium. You'll discover: The 4 ingredients of a successful match offer. The specific language to use that makes a match work best. Why donors respond so well the matching funds. 3 ways to wreck a match offer. Free download from Truesense Marketing: How to Put Matching Funds to Work... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The most important thing you can learn about fundraising -- the one thing that can make the difference between mediocrity and big-time success -- it's this: It's not about you. It's about your donor! It's so easy to talk about how great our organization is ... and to forget that donors don't give because you're awesome. They give because they are awesome. That's why successful fundraising is about donors, not about us. This is one of the hardest challenges all fundraisers face: Talking to donors about donors, and not bragging about ourselves. This podcast also contains the rarest of elements:... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's another truth from Roy H. Williams' MondayMorningMemo that's not at all aimed at fundraising, but speaks a great truth that can help you be a much better fundraiser. How to Win BIG if You're a Millennial: Bad ads are about you, your company, your product, your service. Good ads are about the customer and how their sun will shine brighter, the air around them will glitter with magic, and the stars in their darkness will twinkle more richly if they choose to bring you into their world. If you're wondering why he addresses this specifically to millennials, it's because... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
What exactly is "donor love"? For some, it's just an attitude. For others, it means doing fundraising you like on the mistaken assumption that donors are carbon copies of you. If you're serious about fundraising, donor love is a series of actions and approaches to fundraising, as outlined by Agents of Good, at Donor Love: A Perfect Imperfection: Show donors that they are heroes. Share amazing and inspiring stories. Connect to donors' values and emotions. Make a donor fall, and stay, in love with their charity. Ask for one thing and only one thing. Find the right voice for your... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing has been recognized with a CausePlanet Choice Award 2016. It's one of several books I'm honored to be included among, chosen for "originality, insight, inspiration and applicability." Brooks explains what fundraising writing is not and what it should be. He does so in a way that tells you exactly what to avoid and what to try in your next attempt to sway your audience. A fair amount is appropriately dedicated to the many ways you can create a compelling story even when you're stumped. Maybe it's... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a pretty good chance you sound like a complete idiot. Not you personally (I hope), but your organization's public communications. Most advertising, direct marketing -- and fundraising -- uses a tone you'd never use with your friends. If you did, they'd laugh in your face. Or run away. Really. Think of the junk that's freely scattered through copy. Like: Phony superlatives, like "leading," "best," "most important." Meaningless, high-flown claims, like "cutting-edge" and "pioneering." Self-aggrandizement. Look-at-me copy that talks at donors, not about them. Unnaturally long and complex sentences that abandon all pretense of human speech. Bastardizations like © and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Direct mail fundraisers struggle and sweat over the letter, working to make it persuasive and motivating. In many conversations about direct mail fundraising, it is as if the letter is the only thing that really matters. A have a slightly disturbing secret to tell you. The letter is only marginally important to success in direct mail fundraising. There are two elements that have more impact on success than the letter: The offer (which should live in every element of the piece) and the outer envelope. And the envelope is probably the more important of the two. Repeated testing shows that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
The most important admission any writer can ever make is this: My first draft always, always, always sucks. It's not just you. It's me. And every other writer in the human race, from the worst writer of all time to the best. The difference between a good writer and a bad one is the good ones know their first drafts suck. They're okay with that, because they know they're going to revise those bad first drafts into great final drafts. Here's some great help from Jeff Goins, at How to Not Waste Your Words: The Secret to Writing a Crappy... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You probably remember the photo of the body of a little Syrian boy, washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015. It's a hard photo to look at; he looks like he's sleeping, in that sprawling, completely relaxed way that toddlers sleep. But he's not asleep. This photo galvanized (sort of) humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The fact that it's an astoundingly huge crisis didn't move people. It took a photo of one child -- for whom help was too late. And it's always that way. The facts that prove a crisis is a problem that urgently... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
So you pay for your parking, tickets, and popcorn to see the latest Star Wars movie. You settle in, the music starts blaring and the standard "crawl" floats across the giant screen. And this is what it says (don't worry, it's less than a minute, and there's no sound): (Or see it here on YouTube.) If you're like most people, you'd be on your way out of the theater before you even got to the end of the crawl. Why? Because nobody is interested in a movie that has the premise, Everything is pretty much okay. (Admittedly, some of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
This is one of the most difficult fundamental laws of fundraising, captured in Brooks' Fourth Law of Fundraising Animosity There is a direct correlation between the power and effectiveness of fundraising writing and the number of people who hate it. A Simplification to this troubling law is this: The better your work, the more complaints you'll get. It's simple and inescapable. It's probably because the best fundraising is that which taps into the emotional centers of the brain. It stirs action. But in some people, not the action you intend. Instead of being moved to donate, they feel moved to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of what makes email fundraising ineffective is common practices we shouldn't be doing. The Constant Contact blog has some ideas for things to stop doing, at 7 Email Marketing Practices to Leave Behind in the New Year: Stop wingin' it. (Have a plan for a full year. And follow it.) Quit sending inconsistently. Don't put off contact management. (If everyone on your email list gets the same message at the same time every time, you're doing it wrong!) Get over the fear of asking for email addresses. Don't ignore new subscribers. (Have a welcome series for them.) Don't... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Why do donors go away? Here's some research at Know Your Own Bone: Why donors stop giving to cultural organizations: data. The finding includes the top reasons donors stop giving: Not acknowledged/thanked for previous gift: 244 Not asked to donate again: 199 Lack of communication about use of funds/result of gift: 174 "Forgot": 138 Gave instead to another organization: 120 (The numbers are index numbers; anything above 100 is above average. The 244 means it's cited nearly two and a half times more than the average reason.) These findings are almost exactly the same as those for other charitable sectors.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
When you're raising funds, you always have a call to action. And that is always give. That's where confusion often crops up. You see a lot of fundraising that have calls to action like these: Think well of us. It's good if they do think well of you, but that's not the point. Learn this important fact. Education seldom leads to a gift. It's more likely to be the other way around: People who give to a cause tend to become educated about it. Change the way you think about our issue. Changing your thinking is one of the most... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Donation pages are often the weak link that kills online fundraising. Here are some helpful hints from John Haydon on things we often get wrong at this critical part of digital fundraising. 5 Donation Page Blunders That Kill Fundraising Response Rates: Your Donation Page Isn't Mobile (A lot of people interact with their email on their phone. If your page doesn't work on a phone, it doesn't work!) You're Missing a Hook (The emotional hook that got people to click to the page should be on that page also to keep the feeling alive.) Your Message is Inconsistent (Whatever sent... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
What's worse in fundraising: Doing what everyone is doing? Or following your own path? The answer, of course, is it depends. The downside of carefully following "best practices" is articulated by The Agitator, at Losing Donors In The Sea of Sameness. They call it herd behavior and "sloppy, copycat practices." Which is frequently true. But not always. Some best practices really are best -- at least for now. A best practice can lose its power for a couple of reasons: Over-use -- everyone does it, so it no longer gets attention. It fails to keep up with changing donor behavior.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The largest nonprofit in the US is now Fidelity Charitable a donor-advised fund. This is a big deal, as reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy: Fidelity Charitable Pushes United Way Out of Top Place in Ranking of the 400 U.S. Charities That Raise the Most. And it's not just one gigantic Fidelity. Schwab Charitable is fourth largest, and Vanguard Charitable ranks eleventh, and there are many more as you go down the list. There's a lot of money in donor-advised funds. You can't afford to ignore it. The MarketSmart blog has some help at It was bound to happen sooner... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The most important thing about this video is that it's utterly hilarious. Enjoy it this holiday season if you need to destress. You're welcome. (Or view it here on Vimeo.) This video also has a lesson for us fundraisers. There's a lot of fundraising out there that's almost as "out of tune" as this robot-made holiday carol. But when it happens in fundraising, it's not funny at all. It's just a big waste of money and of donors' time. Why is the robot holiday carol so disturbing and funny? Well, it really doesn't "get" music. Or Christmas. Or human emotions.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Angels We Have Heard on High Excellent fundraisers are like angels singing out their wonderful news for the world to hear. They sing it sweetly and with gusto, because they know they're changing the world. The other kind of fundraisers -- the ones who mutter their message under their breath because they're embarrassed to ask for money? They don't do so well. Anyway, the Archangel Gabriel is the patron saint of postal workers. So there's a real connection. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly It's usually smart to deck your fundraising messages with boughs of holly or other corny... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
There's something you might be doing that's alienating many of your donors. You might not even notice that you're doing it. Michael Rosen Says that harmful thing you're doing is putting a strong public emphasis on the heroic giving of your very top donors: Want More Donors and More Money? Public thanking of your high-end donors can have a hidden downside: When people see that only mega-donors are celebrated, they can begin to think that their support is unnecessary and not genuinely appreciated Here's what to do instead: Thank mega-donors, but not to the exclusion of others. Recognize a broad... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
What, according to fundraising wizard Sean Triner, is The best way to get donations from under 40s? Wait until they are over 40. It's a painful truth that many fundraisers spend a lot of money battering their heads against. People under 40 are tough prospects for fundraising. They're hard to find. Very hard to motivate to give. Harder yet to motivate to give a second gift. The charitable giving impulse starts to grow sometime after age 40. Grows stronger in the 50s. It really starts to matter in the 60s and older. That's just the way it is. Older donors... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a single word that can be one of the worst or one of the best words to use in fundraising. The word? WE Here's how to make it the worst: When we means "those of us in the organization" or "the committee that wrote this message." When used that way, it's exclusionary. It sets up the sense that we are an organization, not a person. That we are bigger and more important than you, a mere individual. That's not good for fundraising. People don't give because you are big and important and awesome. They give because you give them... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I love family Christmas letters. Six-year-old Elmer is reading nearly 100 grade levels above his age. He has already secured a free-ride scholarship at the Sorbonne when he's ready for college, which will be just as soon as he finishes his school project of rebuilding a flood-ravaged village in New Guinea, using nothing but toothpicks and super-glue. His younger brother Brian is doing well too.... You can have a great time informing your friends and family how great things are going with a family Christmas letter. Just don't let that style of communicating creep into your fundraising, as the Bloomerang... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Setting out to write a direct mail fundraising letter. Here are some useful guidelines form the Guidestar blog, at Drafting Fundraising Letters: Seven Top Tips: Start with the P.S. (It's the most important, most-read part of the letter. Make sure it clearly states the one thing you want to reader to do!) Think about the appearance. (It should look like a "real" letter. Beyond that, it should look like it came from your organization, not any old business.) Make sure they're emotionally compelling. (People give from the heart. If you don't make an emotional case, you won't get very many... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are some great reminders about being a fundraiser from the Catholic Fundraiser blog at Four valuable lessons about fundraising: Have the right support around you. (Have other smart, passionate people who get it to talk to!) Continuously grow and learn. (Read the books and the blogs. Go to a conference now and then.) Do not get discouraged. (Failure is a fact of life in fundraising. Success lies beyond the failure.) If you feel uncomfortable, you are fundraising correctly. (So important! Fundraising is not about creating messages we like. It's about reaching donors. If you love the message, you are... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now