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Jeff Brooks
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Do you know about Warby Parker? It's an online eyewear shop that has low prices and great customer service -- one of the new breed of disruptive online businesses that's changing the way a lot of things are bought and sold. You can tell they have something going by the number of Google hits that are something like: _____ is the Warby Parker of ______! Can your organization by the Warby Parker of fundraising? The B2B Marketing Insider as some hints at 5 Marketing Lessons From Warby Parker: Be Original and Relevant Engage with Customers Have a Mission Own the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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It must be overwhelmingly tempting. You're a hardworking charity. You're looking for a breakthrough. A creative agency comes knocking. They've won awards for their creative work. You've even encountered their work in the real world. They're ready to do something creative and award-winning for you. That's when the stupid starts. I don't know if that's how it went for Human Appeal, a UK-based international relief organization, but I bet that's close to the reality. Here's the short video they got: Or see it here on YouTube. You might have to watch it a few times to get the concept, so... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a quick easy change you can make on your website and emails that just might improve online response. It's form the Daily Egg, at Don't Create a Call to Action & Other Advanced CTA Tips: Don't focus on the word that best describes what a prospect has to do, use words that describe the benefit of taking the next step along your funnel. Make the value of clicking outweigh the cost. For fundraising that might mean instead of the standard Give or Donate, try something that describes the outcome of the donor's gift. Such as: Feed the children Save... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Everyone (including me) has a lot to tell you about how to ask people for donations. Not many tell how to thank those who gave. I have a feeling the way we thank may be just as important and exacting as the way we ask, because it sets up all subsequent giving. Here's some help on thanking from Focus on Philanthropy: How to write thank-you letters your donors will actually read: Don't open with "thank you." Don't bury the "thank you." Don't ask for more money. Do say how the gift will be used -- specifically. Do tell a story!... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a whole bucket of wisdom from The Far Edge Of Promise: 21 Advancement Truths. Here are a few of them: Donors don't give to institutions, they give through institutions. Doing the fundamentals consistently is "the silver bullet." What your donors believe about your institution is far more important than what they know about your institution. In making your most effective case for support, keep in mind that too many numbers numb, but stories are stored. With only rare exceptions, special events represent the most inefficient and ineffective way to raise money. Your job is to strengthen the donor's belief... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Hey! Someone's offering us free media -- a billboard, a print ad, bus or subway ads. Drop everything to take advantage of this amazing opportunity! Wait! It's not that simple. The offer may not be nearly as good as it sounds. You may be about to waste a lot of time (that is, money). Worse yet, you're about to do some really stupid stuff. Here's why: When someone gives away free media, it's possible they're being truly philanthropic and donating something of value. More likely, though, they're unloading "garbage" on you -- media they haven't been able to sell because... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Marc Pitman says donor fatigue is a myth. He's right. Here's his explanation: (Or see it on the web here.) I believe there's another problem that gets falsely labeled donor fatigue: Fundraiser fatigue. We get sick of saying the same thing again and again (even though it may be working) so we change what we're saying to be more pleasing to our own ears. Or stop talking to donors entirely. When revenue drops, we blame it on the donors. Those fickle people have grown tired of our fundraising! The solution to "donor fatigue": Keep on doing effective, relevant, donor-focused fundraising.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Our profession is oddly prone to delusions -- mistaken beliefs that don't stand up to either experience or close scrutiny. Here are just a few of the common delusions that send fundraisers down wrong paths from Social Velocity, at 5 Fundraising Delusions Nonprofits Suffer: Events Are Fundraisers. With some meanigful exceptions, events are not revenue producers if you counted all the real cost of them. Crowdfunding Creates Revenue. If you're lucky, crowdfunding can get dollars in the door. But it doesn't create ongoing relationship -- which are the name of the game in fundraising. Major Donors Can Be Recruited En... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If you write the way I do, you're in a constant struggle between the fevered disorder of inspiration and creativity and the orderly processes that allow you to juggle lots of ideas and projects. That's the professional writer's life in any field. Here are some realistic hints from Write to Done, at The Zen of Organized Writing: 5 Steps You Can Take Today: Capture Your Ideas Like Roald Dahl (when he had an idea, he would do anything to get it in writing before he lost it). Take Charge of Your Unruly Research (organized notes are empowering). Get A Room... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Most of your donors don't care that your organization has been around for a nice round number of years. That's why Give to us because it's our 25th and we're awesome is a lousy way to raise funds. But there are some things you can do to leverage your anniversary into more revenue. We discuss four cool things you can do that will turn that otherwise meaningless milestone into good things. 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 Jun 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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Olive Cooke, 92, was found dead by police in Bristol, England, on May 6. She'd taken her own life. By all accounts, she was a wonderful person. She was the UK's oldest poppy seller; she volunteered in that time-honored fundraiser for The Royal British Legion, an organization that serves military veterans, since 1938. A couple of other things you should know about Olive Cooke: She suffered from depression and other health problems. She was an extremely generous donor to a number of charities. So far, this is just a heart-breaking story about one woman's tragic struggle with depression. But something... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's why your nonprofit should probably not launch a blog: 80% of corporate blogs contain fewer than five posts. They start them, then abandon them before they've really started. It's understandable: New blogs don't get much traffic. It feels like you're talking to nobody in an empty room. (Trust me, I know.) Do not do that! It's a complete waste of time. Worse, it's like having a huge banner on your website that proclaims, We don't have anything to say! On the other hand, a living blog that's well-targeted at your audience can be a great source of traffic and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
People talk about digital fundraising like it's magic. Just do something with it, and magic will happen. It doesn't work. It never has. Succeeding online requires discipline and focus. Just as with other media. Except the digital world changes much faster. About the time you know a truth, it's not true any more. Here's a framework for succeeding online from the 1to1 Media Blog, at The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Digital Marketers: Execute marketing with a focus on business objectives Run marketing like a profit center, not a cost center Be a constant student of your craft Don't operate... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Are people in or organization asking weird questions about your fundraising? Join the club. It's probably the most common struggle for fundraising professionals. Here's some help from Hands-On Fundraising, at How to respond when they challenge your fundraising appeal. Here are some of the most common questions: Does the letter really have to be two (or four, or whatever) pages? Why that serif font? It looks so old-fashioned! And why is it so big? I was taught either indents or space between paragraphs. Why are you using both? That's a sentence fragment. It's not grammatically correct. We have all these... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I want to point out a story told by my podcasting partner Steven Screen in a recent podcast: In an appeal letter Steven wrote (and I creative-directed) that won an award (I'm required to make that phrase bold) and also raised a lot of money, he later noticed something interesting about the letter itself: It didn't mention the name of the organization. Not even once. Now don't think donors couldn't tell who sent the letter. The organization's name and logo were all over the package, from the outer envelope to the reply coupon, and including the letterhead. It just wasn't... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Getting a ton of people to like you on Facebook is an iffy activity; an almost guaranteed time- and money-waster. Super-targeted Facebook ads are not iffy. It's a complex activity that I urge you to get professional help with. But it can be a very effective way to raise funds directly through Facebook or by supporting other channels. Here's a helpful post on Facebook ads from the HubSpot Marketing Blog: 11 Examples of Facebook Ads That Actually Work (And Why). It's worth checking out, because there are lots of examples. The main point is this four-ingredient recipe for Facebook success:... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Is direct mail dead? Dying? How about alive and well, unlikely to die any time soon? That's the reality, and here's an article in Target Marketing that shows why: Why Direct Mail Won't Die. Here's what direct mail has over its nimble young competitors: Research reveals comprehension is better when information is consumed in print. And there's more: millennials ... who today are in their 20s and 30s, prefer print. Did you get that? Print is better at getting information into people's mind than other channels. That includes Millennials, the so-called digital natives. Sure, the response rates of direct mail... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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I'm on vacation. So this week I'm re-posting some of the most-read posts from the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them! 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 we stop being wrong about everything,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm on vacation. So this week I'm re-posting some of the most-read posts from the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them! "Donor centric" might be the most misused concepts in our industry. It sometimes means "I use my own tastes and preferences to decide how we should treat donors." Big mistake. Big, expensive mistake. The decisions go like this: Address labels? I have no use for them. Hate 'em. Not donor centric. Emotional stories? I see right through them. Manipulative. Not donor centric. Long messages? Ain't nobody got time for that. Not donor centric. Frequent contact? It... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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I'm on vacation. So this week I'm re-posting some of the most-read posts from the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them! Perhaps the single biggest waste of time and money in fundraising is the general brochure. That's because of what it usually sets out to do: It explains "what we do." It shows how superior our processes are. It brags about how long we've been around, what awards we've won, and how famous our CEO/Founder is. I've noticed that many general brochures focus in on what we don't do -- as if that could possibly be of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
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I'm on vacation. So this week I'm re-posting some of the most-read posts from the past year or so. I hope you enjoy them! Excerpted from my new book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving. A well-run nonprofit is aligned around fundraising goals If your organization depends on money from fundraising, everyone should have their success, including their compensation, tied to fundraising success. Even if their role in that success may be indirect, it's still critical. If fundraising is going poorly, it's everyone's "fault." It should be more difficult for anyone to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Social proof is among the most persuasive elements for fundraising: The sense that other people, lots of them, have already given. That I'm not the only one considering this decision to give. That when I give, I'll join a tribe of smart, wonderful people. From The Daily Egg, 5 Social Proof Tactics You Can Use Right Now: Testimonials (donors telling why they gave) The Results Earned or Clients Served (information about beneficiaries) Case Studies Press mentions Tell your own story Use these things in your fundraising to help your donors see that giving to you is something people really do. Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
How often have you read a fundraising message that included a "story" like this? Everything is going great for "Jim." He used to struggle with alcoholism, but ever since he came to Awesome Charity, he's been sober, and loving his life. It has the form and appearance of a story, but it's not really a story at all. That's because a real story -- the kind that sinks into the heart and mind and stirs people to action -- features conflict. The Storytelling Non-Profit blog, at C Is For Conflict. And isn't: ... in non-profit stories ... the conflict is... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a great quote, from Clairification at Heed Maya Angelou to Retain More Donors: I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou Here are some ways to make donors feel good about giving to your organization: In the first place, make your fundraising about what they can do to make a better place. Not how they can help you make the world better. Give them the action! They aren't your sidekick -- you are their sidekick. Thank them. Really thank them.... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If the recent news about the scam cancer charities getting caught has you feeling smug because yours isn't a scam organization -- you need to think differently about it. Charity scams hurt all fundraisers. Because each scam, even a perceived scam, feeds one the top two reasons people don't give to charity: Why should I give? They'll just waste all my money! The ugly, ugly doings of the Cancer Fund of America and its sibling organizations play right into that narrative, and it rubs off on all of us. Because people don't remember the names of the four specific organizations... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now