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Jeff Brooks
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We're well into the era when a majority of fundraisers would say they believe in being "donor centric." That's a good thing. But I don't think we've yet started the era where a majority of fundraisers actually are donor centric. Two reasons: Being donor centric is easier said than done. A lot of people have no idea what it actually means to be donor centric. Here's help from The Agitator: Donor-Centric or Faux Donor-Centric? Check the Plumbing. Here's The Agitator's list of things that can tell you whether you're Donor-Centric or Faux Donor-Centric: Do staff and consultant performance reviews include... Continue reading
Posted 9 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
P.S. If you want to make your direct mail (or email) work better, always include a P.S. Okay, don't put it at the beginning of your message. But consider writing it first. Because it's possibly the most important paragraph in your message. It is frequently the first thing people read (at least in print), and often the only thing they read. As the Communicate blog says, Remember the Postscript. Donors Do!. Try to get some or all of these things into your P.S.: A sense of urgency Appreciation A tangible way to help A specific amount of money to give... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Steven shares his short poem, "A Benediction for Fundraisers" (based on "Christ Has No Body" by St. Teresa of Avila [1515-1582]). We hope this very brief podcast inspires you to love the important work we do when we motivate donors to give. 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. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The main reason response rates in direct mail fundraising are relatively low (and falling) are that most pieces never really get noticed. Here's one relatively easy way to be noticed in the mailbox: Weird stock. That's right, envelopes that are something other than normal white paper. Like this credit card offer I got the other day: Forget the fact for a moment that it's a terrible offer that I already know I don't want. It stands out. It got about three seconds more consideration than it would have otherwise. And that can be the difference between response and nothingness. The... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Fred the Explorer was walking through the jungle, searching for the Lost City. The dense undergrowth to his left rustled. Fred froze. Suddenly the undergrowth exploded into a mass of orange and black -- a giant Bengal tiger, bellowing as it hurtled toward Fred. Before I tell you the rest of that story, let me point you to a very useful post at the Better Fundraising blog: How (And When) To Tell A Finished Story. Because it's important to know when you should and should not finish the stories you tell. When you're talking to donors about the difference they've... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Okay, everyone knows videos can do a lot to get people paying attention online. So let's make a video! But first, check out this post at M+R Labs: Lights, Camera, Action, Post: Using video to tell your story. Ask these questions when you're thinking about making a video: What's the goal? (If the goal is "make a video," you're about to waste a lot of time and money.) Is video the best way to generate action? (See #1, then ask if a video is the best way to do it.) Who is the audience and how will they find your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
A picture is worth a thousand words. So when it's visible alongside 30 or so actual words -- as in this Facebook post from Feeding America -- do you think the photo might dominate? Just a little? Okay, that's a silly question. Because you know the answer: The photo speaks much, much "louder" than the words. Even a thousand words crafted by the best fundraising writer in the world have a pale shadow of engagement power when compared to a photo. So why did they choose a photo that tells a story that's the exact opposite of the words? Whatever... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Good fundraising is always disarmingly simple: Feed a baby. Stop a disease. Save a puppy. As a professional who deeply understands the work, you may find these simple offers to be over-simplifications. You're intuitively sure that adding more of the real-world complexity to the offer will make it more effective. After all, the more they understand, the more they'll give, right? No. Time and again, I hear two reasons fundraisers give for putting complex fundraising in front of donors: 1. People won't give unless we give them the whole picture. Wrong. Giving the whole picture is a really excellent way... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Your donors don't trust you. Okay, that's a bit of a blanket statement, but there's some disturbing evidence for it in the form of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer which shows crashing level of trust in public institutions in the US. The Agitator is agitated about this. You should be too. See Why "Trust" Matters in Fundraising. And What To Do About It. The thing about trust is that seemingly small things can damage it. The Agitator post has two great examples: acquire a first-time donor using a powerful message to save the baby seals.... What you shouldn't do... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Book review: Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: And Other Tough-Love Truths to Make You a Better Writer by Steven Pressfield The title of this book is some of the advice you'll ever get as a fundraiser. Once you know and internalize this truth, you can stop wasting your (and your donors') time. And get on with fundraising that just might work. According to Pressfield, this is the deal between every writer and reader: The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer must give him something worthy of his gift to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Smart fundraisers get a lot out of their donor newsletters. They use them to strengthen their relationships with donors. And in most cases they directly raise significant revenue through newsletters. How? Short version: Make the newsletter about the donors and the difference they're making in the world. Not about your organization. That means restraining yourself from certain kinds of newsletter content that many organization dearly want to include. Here's a great list from the Better Fundraising Blog: Your Newsletter: What To Leave Out. Leave these things out of your newsletter: Photos of people giving or receiving big checks. Photos of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger Brady Josephson is the Vice President of Innovation & Optimization at NextAfter. I'm kind of obsessed with email acquisition. Here's why: This graph, from one of our clients, shows traffic across all of their different channels (in blue) and the corresponding revenue (in orange). For this client, and most that we work with, email is not only a high traffic source but also an incredibly high revenue source, often with the highest average gift among online channels. And the value of email isn't just from direct revenue. Look at what happens when offline donors also get email... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
"Political correctness" tends to occupy some territory between funny and annoying for most of us. That tortured way of avoiding saying anything concrete, clear, or interesting could hardly be called dangerous, could it? So this headline in Third Sector (a UK publication) might seem a bit much: The menace of political correctness. Menace? Really? Well, yes. Because political correctness kills fundraising revenue. It does it by making fundraising abstract, confusing, and inhuman. The typical form PC takes in fundraising is to obfuscate or flat-out deny the problem you're asking the donors to help solve. Not naming the disease. Not showing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
How often can you mail your donor? How often is too often? Or too little? Wrong question, according to Clairification at How Often Should You Mail to Your Nonprofit Donors? The right question is how relevant is the mail you send donors? If your mailings are institution-centered (all about you and how great you are) you're not going to achieve the results you'll get if you make your appeal donor-centered (all about your donor and how they can be a hero by investing with your cause). If you're talking to the donor about what she can do instead of how... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Why tell stories? Here's a reason from the Hubspot Marketing Blog, at The Strange Thing That Happens In Your Brain When You Hear a Good Story -- And How to Use It to Your Advantage: Something surprising happens when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: More of our brains light up. When we hear a story, the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind. Sounds like good fundraising to me! The notes two things stories do for people: Stories generate empathy. At a brain-chemistry level, stories help us... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic. He blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. The language we speak doesn't just determine how we communicate. It determines how we think and act. This is the idea behind an interesting TED Talk called Could Your Language Affect Your Ability To Save Money? by a behavioral economist who looks into the widely different rates of personal savings in various countries around the world. This might give us a powerful clue about how we communicate with donors. Here's some background. In the countries where people speak a language that has a future tense, like English and Spanish,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising -- and especially direct mail -- is largely a process of doing a lot of small things right. Most of them boring and unsexy things. But they can matter a lot more than the shiny objects everyone talks about. Which is why this post at the Bloomerang blog is surprisingly important for you: NCOA: The Easiest Way to Improve Fundraising Results. Running an NCOA (National Change of Address) Update Service is a way of tracking down people on your list who have moved. It also cleans up messy records and qualify you for bulk postage discounts. As Bloomerang points... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Great post at the Heroic Fundraising blog: 6 A's of Fundraising Stories: Arc. Stories work best when they have a beginning, middle, and end. (Fundraising Ninja Tip: Put the ending of the story in the donor's hands!) Audience. Know your audience. Connect with them, not with yourself! Angle. Start well and you'll end well. Action. If your story isn't packed with action, tension, or conflict -- it's not really a story. Answer. A story includes the answer (or resolution) to the conflict. (Fundraising Ninja Tip: The resolution should be in the thank-you communication ... not the ask communication.) Affirm. The... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I had two uncles who were great storytellers: Uncle Herbert and Uncle Hubert. (They weren't brothers, as their names might suggest, but they were married to sisters, so they knew each other well.) They were both product of a different world from ours: A world without electronic entertainment. Where the best thing to do of an evening with family or friends was to tell each other stories. And these uncles were generally the star of the room. By the time I came along, TV was rapidly eroding that old form of live entertainment. But I sat in a lot of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Today is Presidents Day here in the USA, so I'm not really blogging. But I have something on my chest... This holiday bugs me, because in 1971 they took the February birthdays of two of our greatest presidents squished them into a single commemoration. Then, to really mess it all up, they made it in honor of all the US presidents. I'm sorry, but they don't all deserve the same level of honor as Washington and Lincoln. We've had quite a few mediocre presidents. And a few really awful presidents. (And at least one who redefines bad leadership and creates... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
This is a powerful and super-informative interview with Greg Warner, founder of MarketSmart who also hosts a great podcast called Engagement Fundraising. The secret to accelerating your fundraising program is this: find the right level of engagement and giving for every donor, especially: Those who will leave your organization a bequest. Those with the capacity to become mid-level or major donors. How do you discover this? Some combination of science and magic? Or just ask them? You'll love Greg's energy and passion as he describes all the love we're missing by not asking -- engaging with -- donors. To listen,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Subject lines are tough. That's one reason your email open rates are lower than you wish. Here's a helpful post from the Fearless Fundraising blog, Email Subject Lines for Gift Officers that might help energize your search for better fundraising subject lines: Greetings from [org name] - hoping to thank you in person Congrats on recent story in [publication] - question about [related topic] Eager for your feedback on [topic] Visiting from [org name] next week - lunch? Connecting with [school name] alumni in [location] [Mutual connection] recommended I get in touch Reaching out from [org name] - hoping for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
It was one of those hairy mornings, when every other email contains something that urgently required my attention. I was trying hard to stick to the in-box plan of do, delegate, or delete. Which is darn hard to practice. I often end up taking a fourth option, delay. Which is supposed to mean Get back to it later. But it really means Ignore it until you forget about it. (It's not good time management; I bet you do it too!) Then I came to an email from the executive director of an organization where I was on the board. He... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
This will help you think about fundraising in a different way; Why Your Customers Don't Care About Your Products and Services at Duct Tape Marketing. It's about commercial marketing, but if you apply it to fundraising you just might find some new ways to get donors excited: Your job ... is to understand the problems people are trying to solve and match your solutions to those specific problems. That's it. If you can do that, you've won the golden ticket. What donor problem does your organization solve? It's not necessarily the same as the problem your organization exists to solve.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
About five years ago. I was working at a quality national fundraising agency with a whole bunch of superb nonprofit clients. Helping them raise a lot of money. I knew my stuff. Authored a (ahem) popular blog about fundraising. I'd written a book about fundraising, and was at work on my second book. It seemed like I was in the "smooth sailing" part of my career. No big changes expected. Just don't get complacent. Then I stumbled onto something amazing. About the way we tell stories in fundraising. Here it is: If you want to raise more money, the real... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now