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Jeff Brooks
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Drayton Bird posted something cool: Who To Read If You Want To Write Better Advertising. Here's his list: Jane Austen Evelyn Waugh P G Wodehouse F Scott Fitzgerald Elmore Leonard What? Five fiction writers will help you write better ads? It's true. He suggests these writers because they have good writing style. Graceful, strong, euphonious, clear style. You probably don't want to write a fundraising letter than sounds like Jane Austen. But if you read Austen and her style sinks into your bones -- you'll write better fundraising. Let me suggest another author to read: Richard Brautigan. His best-known (and... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Are there people on your team who makes changes to your fundraising with the goal of making the message more persuasive to themselves? I bet there are. Most teams have them. Whether they're inexperienced new staff or the chairman of the board, they're costing you a lot. "I like it" fundraising is not really fundraising at all. Whether someone on the team likes it or not should have no bearing. In fact, when insiders like it, it's almost certainly not on target for your donors. That's why "I like it" fundraising is nothing but a form of entertainment. A very... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker Like a lot of writers, I'm a sucker for a book that seems as if it'll help me write better. Thing is, a lot of books that promise this don't really help. In fact some of them seem designed to make me a much worse writer -- stilted, robotic, monotonous, and confused. Especially stylebooks. While some stylebooks are helpful, even mission-critical for writers, many are a crazed hodge-podge of duh advice ("omit needless words"), grammar myths ("don't split infinitives), and flat-out terrible advice... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's some useful information from npENGAGE: 5 Things That Won't Happen in 2015. Direct Mail Will Not Die Wearable Technology Will Not Transform Fundraising Millennial Donors Will Not Save Your Fundraising Program The Great Transition of Wealth Will Not Happen in 2015 Doing Nothing Will Not Be Less Risky Here are three more, off the top of my head: "Bitcoin" will not become an important fundraising currency Donors won't start using RSS feeds to follow their favorite nonprofits There won't be an amazing breakthrough that makes fundraising easy (If there's a breakthrough, I can guarantee you it'll make fundraising more... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
This video about the Syria crisis and linking to a UNHCR giving page is depressing. It makes several of the mistakes typical of Stupid Nonprofit Ads, but does it with a kind of plodding, self-important, scolding spirit. As is often true with work like this, it's done by an ad agency. And I've found no evidence that UNHCR has anything to do with the work. It appears to be portfolio-padding. As if someone at the agency said, "Let's do a project that's fun, easy, and morally right!" So, unfortunately, here's what they came up with: Or view it here on... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's my recent presentation on telling stories -- the right stories in the right way -- for maximum fundraising power: Or view it here on SlideShare. Everyone knows that if you want people to support your cause you must tell stories. But if you really want to succeed, you have to tell the right story -- the story that pulls donors in and makes them hunger to donate to you. Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. It's no secret that giving confers all kinds of benefits to donors. People who give are generally happier, healthier, and even wealthier than non-givers. If that's true, then how would donors react if we pointed out those benefits in an appeal? Will speaking directly to donors' self-interest about the benefits of giving persuade them to give -- or maybe to give more? One recent study from the Harvard Business School, Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior, suggests that laying out the benefits of giving... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Most of your successes and failures start with your attitude. Here are some attitudes -- mental habits -- that can shoot down your fundraising efforts, from the Constant Contact blog at 7 Bad Marketing Habits You Should Quit in 2015: Seeing marketing (fundraising) as a necessary evil Starting without a plan in place Trying to do everything Treating your contacts like names on a list Assuming you're on the big screen (ignoring mobile) Multitasking all the time Expecting overnight success Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Showering donors with tales of your organization's excellence is not a good way to raise funds. The right way to do it is to make what you have to say into a tale of the donor's excellence and values. Let me show you the difference. Here's a common approach to a fundraising appeal: Our community center is the best in the county. Spotlessly clean and staffed by top-notch youth-sports professionals, we are a light shining in the inner city, transforming the lives of hundreds of kids every year. We hope you'll join this great work. It feels good to say... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I know quite a few nonprofit people who are virtually slaves. I'm not talking about their salaries. I'm talking about their lack of control over what they spend their time doing. They spend their time in a perpetual tail-chasing struggle to keep up with the urgent, day-to-day stuff that fills their life. So much so, that they rarely do anything important. The cost of this -- personally and to their organizations -- is huge. (I'm sure this problem is common everywhere, but it seems much worse in the nonprofit sector. Our tendency to be understaffed is probably part of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The Hilborn blog has a reality check about telemarketing, for those organizations whose leaders have taken holy vows never to use the phone to raise funds: Telefundraising: It's different for us. The common disdain for telemarketing is based on the fallacy that "everyone thinks exactly the way I do." This leads to two myths pointed out in the post: Myth: Everyone hates these calls. You hate them, but many of your donors enjoy them. And respond to them. Myth: Telemarketers are rude and pushy. Okay, some of them are. But those ones don't thrive in fundraising. Get a good telemarketing... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It's Not Just about the Money by Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels Fundraising is about money. But if you think it's just about the money, you'll struggle as a fundraiser. That's the most important takeaway of this new book on major-donor fundraising. Which, you may have noticed is a truth that transcends major-donor fundraising. And that's why you should read this book, no matter what areas of fundraising you work in. (Disclosure: I know the authors well; they are friends and former colleagues. I wrote the book's foreword.) If fundraising isn't just about money, what is it about?'s about... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
What do people find when they visit your website? If they're donors, they're looking for evidence that you're real, honest, connected to their values, and worth their support. They might not be able to tell any of those things if you're making the common homepage errors noted on the Constant Contact blog at 3 Homepage Mistakes that Will Undermine Your Marketing: The résumé mistake (a well-organized but uninteresting list of the organization's accomplishments) The "Have you seen my vacation pictures?" mistake (self-aggrandizing narratives about how awesome the organization is) The "Howdy y'all!" mistake (just a big hello to the world;... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It's hard to make fundraising emails work. Even the big successes only work at all because the cost of sending them is so low. But are you doing everything you can to make your emails do that job? Here are some thoughts from the Email Marketing Tips blog, at Common Email Marketing Mistakes: Why Your Emails Aren't Getting Results: Your content is too self-promotional. Your readers think you're a robot. Your call to action isn't very actionable. You're inconsistent. Your follow-up series is nonexistent. Your subject lines are boring. You're not using personalization. You're sending to the wrong people. Thanks... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you live in mortal fear of making typos? Don't. Sometimes mistakes are the best things that can happen in your fundraising. This recent post at the Agents of Good blog, Making mistakes #FTW, tells the tale of an email that addressed donors with "[FNAME]" instead of their actual first name. Want to guess the outcome? " response of any email we've sent!" Most people who've been in our business for a few years have similar stories: Terrifying typos that made everyone cringe -- but seem to drive abnormally strong fundraising performance. My theory: Many readers, on encountering an error,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It's far too easy to get fundraising wrong. But just in case you want a reminder of things to avoid, here's a post from the Get Fully Funded blog, at How to Bore Your Donors to Tears in 10 Easy Steps: Be ego-centric. (After all, it's all about you and or organization, not about the donor, right?) Show no passion. Leave out the stories. Use lots of mind-numbing statistics. Use lots of jargon, slang, and acronyms. Be predictable and safe. Use lots of big, fancy words and really long sentences. Omit the outcomes. Bury the lead. Leave them out of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The New York Times has some advice for donors: Don't Give Till It Hurts. It's a recipe for not feeling guilty when you can't or don't want to give to particular charitable ask: Have a charitable giving plan. Follow the plan. When asked to make unplanned contributions, reply, "Thank you for the opportunity, but I've chosen to give in another way." Never feel bad again. There's some evidence that a growing number of donors follow a plan something like this. For something like 10 years, response rates and have been dropping but average gifts have been growing. That could be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Read these, and you'll have a good fundraising year! 101fundraising The Agitator Ahern Commnunications Blog Big Duck Blog Bloomerang Blog Clairification For Impact Fundraiser Grrl The Fundraising Coach Get Fully Funded Blog Getting Attention Hands-on Fundraising Kivi's Nonprofit Marketing Guide Michael Rosen Says Network for Good Nonprofit Marketing Blog npENGAGE Pamela Grow Queer Ideas re:charity Selfish Giving Social media marketing hacks for nonprofits Veritus Group blog Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
So many otherwise-excellent fundraising efforts fall flat for missing the basics of readability. Here are ten things to watch, from Clairification at Can't Scan it? Ban it! 10 Reasons Nonprofit Appeals Tank: Let it Breathe (break up your text with white space) Indent Paragraphs Break up Content with Compelling Subheads Use Bullets or Numbered Lists Use Appropriate Fonts (that is, serif fonts for text in print; sans-serif online) Use Large Enough Type (12 pt is the bare minimum; 13 or 14 better) Use Story Photos Use Photo Captions Add Relevant Links Bold face or Underline Important Concepts This is the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you ever wonder what makes people complain about fundraising? Maybe a lot of it is complaint-worthy. Annoying. An irrelevant waste of time. It doesn't have to be that way. It can be inspiring, fun, and life-affirming. Here's a look at the difference, from Hands On Fundraising, at Are you bothering people or inspiring them? Things that might bother donors: Your budget Your fundraising goals A chance to be an extra in your drama To which I'll add: Your elevator speech How excellent your processes are How difficult fundraising is How few people care enough to donate How gigantically, overwhelmingly... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Many organizations object to using incentives in fundraising (freemiums; things like address labels) because they're "tacky" or "lowbrow" or "out of date." Those are subjective labels that should never guide your thinking. If your reason for not using incentives is like that, it's a symptom that you're trapped in your own mind, not in donors' minds. Because incentives can work. Not always or for everyone -- but it's a tactic everyone should at least consider. Here's a breath of common sense from the Hilborn blog, at What's the problem with incentive led fundraising? Using incentives should be seen as door... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's my recent presentation on what it takes to build powerful fundraising offers: Powerful fundraising offers are game-changers. Successful fundraisers put a lot of thought and energy into building offers that give donors the tools they long for to save the world. Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The pressure is on. The biggest online fundraising day of the year (at least in the US) is December 31. Here are some hints from the Classy Blog on ways to make sure your emails between now and then (and after) don't fail: 6 Year-End Appeals that are Sure to Flop. The Stand-Alone Email Appeal The One-for-All, All-for-One Appeal (the appeal that tries to accomplish everything instead of just one thing) The Appeal that Links to a Generic Donation Form The Appeal that Isn't Mobile-Responsive The Appeal that Isn't Urgent The Appeal that Ignores Donors Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are 12 fundraising tips -- most of them super-easy and ready to try immediately -- that can boost your fundraising results, this holiday season or any other time of 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 subscribe with iTunes: Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Tired of your ugly old website design? Ready for a beautiful redesign? Think twice before you do it. As The Daily Egg blog notes, it might not be as bad as you think it is: 5 Reasons Why Your Ugly Website Is Actually Okay. Your ugly website might be just fine: Your design is distraction free. Your site is functional. Your audience doesn't care. You'll lose enormous amounts of traffic. You will lose valuable branding power. Ugly is in the eyes of the beholder. And it doesn't drive away donors. If your website is confusing, dysfunctional, or missing key ingredients... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now