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Jeff Brooks
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Here's one of the toughest things in fundraising, a change in the way you tell stories that can dramatically improve results: Tell stories without endings. It goes against your instincts as a storyteller. But it works. Because it moves the would-be donor from a passive consumer of the story you tell to an active part of a story you and she tell -- and actually live -- together. Here's a great example from the Bettr Fundraising blog, at How to Tell Unfinished Stories. Here's how fundraisers often tell stories: Lisa was homeless and in dire straits. But thanks to our... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
I've spent nearly all of my almost 30 years in fundraising working at fundraising agencies (most recently TrueSense Marketing. If you wanted to work with me, you had to hire the agency I worked for. Which was problematic, because unless your organization is fairly large, you can't afford that level of service. Or you already have an agency. Or you do all that stuff without an agency. In any case, you and I existed on opposites sides of a sort of Grand Canyon. Not any more! We can work together now. Here's how: Moceanic now offers four Coaching+ courses for... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You've seen that photo of a smiling group of people holding a check that's the size of a beach towel, a large donation to a charity. Everyone is happy. And you should not use this photo, says the Madlin Sudn blog, at Say no to giant cheque pictures: Pictures ... need to tell a story and be interesting enough to make you pause and read more. Posed people shaking hands over a big piece of paper (or sometimes small ones), smiling in front of a busy backdrop isn't enough. Step away from the giant cheque picture and make your fundraising... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Seth Godin once asked a question I wish would be widely asked within nonprofit organizations: Is everyone entitled to their opinion? In the consensus-heavy world of nonprofits, a lot of people's opinions are sought and valued. This is probably one of the most destructive forces in our industry. As Seth notes, not everyone's opinion is valuable: If you're working in Accounts Payable and you hate the company's new logo, the people who created it should and must ignore your opinion. It just doesn't matter to anyone but you. I know you don't like cilantro, but whether or not you like... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Because something important is happening in about 5 hours: it's a free webinar titled The Most Powerful Communications Tool: Supporter Connection Survey - with Sean Triner. Here's where to sign up. The 1.5 hour webinar is at: 3:30 PM US Eastern Time 12:30 PM US Pacific Time 8:30 PM GMT 5:30 AM Australian Eastern time Then again at: 8:00 PM US Eastern Time 5:00 PM US Pacific Time 1:00 AM GMT 10:00 AM Australian Eastern time As you can see, it's now or never! Sign up here. And it matters, because the Supporter Connection Survey is a powerful way to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
This is an odd time for me to be posting, at the end of the work day in my time zone. But I say posting time, schmosting time! Because something important is happening in less than 24 hours: it's a free webinar titled The Most Powerful Communications Tool: Supporter Connection Survey - with Sean Triner. The 1.5 hour webinar is tomorrow, August 9 (the 10th some places at: 3:30 PM US Eastern Time 12:30 PM US Pacific Time 8:30 PM GMT 5:30 AM Australian Eastern time (August 10) Then again at: 8:00 PM US Eastern Time 5:00 PM US Pacific... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Thanking donors matters. So any time I get a chance to look at the good thank-you letters, I pay attention. Like this post at Aplos: Sample Thank You Letters to a Donor. Check out the attributes of an effective thank you: The letter starts out with a strong opening focusing on the donor. It tells a story and tells the reader exactly what you'll be doing with their donation. It tells the reader when they can expect to hear from you and offers a phone number and a contact person. The donor's loyalty is acknowledged. It's signed by someone from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of crazy bad ideas get kicked around at nonprofits. Most often in board meetings. Here's a list of some that have actually been considered, from Wild Apricot, at 15 Utterly Insane Fundraising Ideas People Actually Thought Would Work. Please use these as a warning! "Just call Bill Gates!" Collect and sell slightly used airplane toiletry kits on eBay. Become a medical or recreational marijuana dispensary. We have an anonymous syringe exchange program that works primarily with homeless substance users. It was once suggested by a funder, that we take pictures of all of them and make a coffee... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I know you can hardly go jogging these days without tripping over a webinar. But I'm about to tell you about a webinar that's different. Because it can point your organization toward a fundamentally better revenue situation for decades to come. And I should mention that this webinar is free. And it's from Moceanic IT will show you how to field the amazing power of the Supporter Connection Survey -- possibly the one most powerful fundraising tools yet invented. Register here! If the Ice Bucket Challenge and the LiveStrong Bracelet got together and had a child, that child would be... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm in awe of this envelope: It's 11.5 x 12 inches. There's a lot of stuff in it, giving it some heft. And an amazing amount of information. But not a clue who sent it, or why. (Turns out it's a life insurance offer. Sorry, I'm not looking for that.) This is great direct mail. An inspiration to us all. Mystery is one of the most enticing of human motivations. When we can't tell what something is, we are compelled to find out. So a direct mail envelope that says a lot -- without telling you anything -- it has... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's something you may have noticed too: Often, the nonprofit leaders who talk most about innovation and the exciting future ahead are the same ones who can't seem to make meaningful progress now. There's a reason, and it's articulated at Pamela Grow's blog: When is an opportunity NOT an opportunity? An opportunity is not an opportunity when it takes you away from your plan. Wishful thinking, planning to go viral, or wasting precious resources on hunger games contests won't get you from here to there. That's right -- innovation is a must for fundraisers. And some incredibly exciting new ways... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
If your organization is small, and one of the reasons you're small is you can't seem to get much fundraising traction, here are some possible reasons why, from Hands-On Fundraising, at 6 big mistakes small organizations make with fundraising: You send one appeal a year You put your mailings together yourself, in-house You depend only on email You are not actively trying to build a monthly giving program You send receipts instead of thanks 2005 wants its website back Come to think of it, some of these things bedevil medium-sized organizations, and even a few large ones. Changing these habits... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
The most deadly (and common) error in fundraising: Assuming your donors don't like to hear from you -- and that too much contact (whatever that means) will drive away donors, causing your donor file to erode and eventually collapse. There's no evidence that it's true. In fact, the evidence shows us that decreasing donor contact almost always leads to not only less revenue but worse donor retention. In other words, you're a lot more likely to drive away donors by not communicating enough than you are by over-communicating. Of course, there are donors who are annoyed by hearing from you,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Thinking about changing your organization's name? It might be the right thing to do. But first, a couple of warnings from the Big Duck blog, at What's in a name? How your nonprofit's name can affect awareness. The more descriptive the name, the better. Using an acronym isn't in your best interest. A third caution I'd add: Abstract, clever names that require inside knowledge to understand can torpedo an organization. In my experience nonprofit name changes can be expensive -- cutting deeply into fundraising revenue. So if you're considering a name-change, be careful and keep your eyes wide open. Do... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Why do donors give you money? It's pretty simple, really, as articulated at the MarketSmart blog, VALUE: People will pay to feel good. There's a lot behind that, of course: A lot of different kinds of feeling good and different causes for it. But keep this in mind: The main thing you have to give in return for their money is how you make them feel. Then you're most of the way to smart fundraising and excellent donor relationships. Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Award bait. It's one of the most common causes of stupid nonprofit ads. It works like this: Ad agencies pride themselves about their "creativity." But their clients rarely let them be as "creative" as they want to be. (Those annoying clients have this dumb need to actually get some kind of measurable results from their advertising dollars. The nerve!) So how can they show off their true creativity? Create really, really "creative" ads for clients that don't care about the actual effectiveness of those ads. Partly because they aren't sophisticated enough to know effective from ineffective, but mainly because they... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Failure is inevitable in fundraising. Show me an organization that never fails, and I'll show you one that's not prepared for the future. Even the very near future. Here are five categories of fundraising failure -- and how can survive them and make the best of it: Abject Failure. Flat-out, unambiguous, it-didn't-even-come-close failure. You tried, but you just missed. This most often happens because what you were selling, they weren't buying. Maybe you had no clear call to action. Or your offer and your audience were not aligned. Or audience wasn't really donors. When you experience Abject Failure, at least... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
A number of years ago, I had two different clients that were both engaged in fighting poverty. Both quality, well-run organizations. One organization banned the word "poor" from their vocabulary. They felt it unfairly stereotyped the people they served, undermined their dignity, and created in donors an insidious sense of superiority. The preferred word for describing poverty-stricken people was "needy." The other organization banned the word "needy" from their vocabulary. They felt it unfairly stereotyped the people they served, undermined their dignity, and created in donors an insidious sense of superiority. The preferred word for describing poverty-stricken people was "poor."... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Does the logic of prompting people to give by sending them coins bother you? I understand. I don't get it either. But here's the thing: In many cases, it works. It works very well. That's right: It's stupid, annoying, and infuriatingly illogical ... and it works. This is how you become a real fundraiser: You leave your preferences at the door. You question your logic. You ignore your pet-peeves. Because those things don't give you useful information about fundraising. The true professional fundraiser keeps an open mind and a spirit of curiosity and looks at odd techniques like sending coins... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Every once in a while, you'll hear someone in fundraising ask a strange question: Is it ethical to appeal to donors' emotions? There's a weird assumption behind that question: an assumption that appealing to the emotions is some kind of a tactic, something you can choose to do or not do -- the way we can choose to use address labels in direct mail. Emotion is not a tactic. You can't turn it on or off. You can't decide it's unethical, ineffective, or annoying and replace it with non-emotional fundraising. Like it or not, your fundraising is bursting with emotion.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You probably remember that old piece of marketing wisdom that people who buy drills don't actually want drills. They want holes. Fundraising Coach reminds us of a similar truth: No donor wants to make a donation. Instead, they want to make a difference. As Marc puts it, this is how you sell drills: Because of your gift, we were able to do this amazing thing. And this is how you sell holes: You did this amazing thing because of your gift. Sell holes. The thing the donor wants to happen. Not drills: The process you use to make it happen. Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. He blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. It's popular in fundraising to tell donors they're heroes. As if that alone is a fundraising proposition. In reality, it's often not a solution but a problem in itself. The problem is that "you're a hero" is not a relevant donor benefit. Can you imagine a fundraiser talking with a donor in person and saying with a straight face, "You'll be a hero when you give"? Would any rational donor accept it? It just isn't believable. There's lots of research about why donors give.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
How many of your new donors have given their second gift? That's an important question, because it's fair to say a donor isn't really a donor until they've given twice or more. To motivate that critical second gift (and every other gift), the best thing is to make the donor feel good about what they've done. Make the donor feel like a hero. The hero, as posted on the Communicate! Blog at My Hero! For your donor to renew, she or he has to feel like the hero of the story. You are the one who is going to make... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Staring at a blank screen, trying to start your fundraising letter? Try these tips from the Better Fundraising blog, at Five Tips for the First Sentence of Your Next Appeal Letter: Short and Sweet (make sure your first sentence is easy to understand) Drama, Drama, Drama What’s The Point? (try: "I'm writing to you today because ...") Who Cares? (try "I know you care about...") Less is More (after you’ve written your first draft, delete your first few sentences; this almost always improves it) Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the most useful things I ever learned from a commercial advertiser was this: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. What does that mean? It means sell the benefits, not the features. Sell the spirit of excellence and competition, not just a pair of shoes. Or, as Angel Aloma, executive director of Food for the Poor puts it in NonProfit PRO: Sell the experience, not the features. Because sizzle not steak is just as important in fundraising as it is in commercial marketing. More important, really. Because your donor doesn't experience any features at all. It's benefits only. Here's... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now