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Jeff Brooks
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Some fundraisers would have you believe you're doing your donors a big favor by "leaving them alone." By going silent on them. By not giving them opportunities to give. The Veritus Group Blog begs to differ, at Not Asking = Less Love: Showering your donor with love ultimately means challenging your donor to make a greater impact in the world. And as a major gift fundraiser, you know that donors who make great impact through their giving will experience a tremendous amount of joy. Ask, and ask boldly of your donors. That is real love. My only caveat to this:... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
In your first draft of any fundraising piece you write include the word you (your, yours, you're, etc.) in EVERY SENTENCE. Don't worry that some of those sentences or sentence combinations may be awkward. You can revise them later. But I can guarantee that with you in every sentence, the psychological core of your draft will be spot on -- even if some of those yous go away! Try not saying the name of your organization anywhere in the body of your writing. This is not to hide who you are -- after all, the name will be on the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Let's cut to the chase: Free webinar. Just an hour of your time. Now, in the depths of summer (July 25 and 26 in a time zone that probably works for you). The potential to double (or better) your fundraising revenue this year. Ready? It's called Mind-Blowing Secrets for Connecting with Donors, and it's going to reveal some simple (and almost secret) non-intuitive techniques that WILL turn your words into money and rocket your organization's income. The pressure is on as the main fundraising season of the year approaches. July is the time to start planning for your end-of-year/Holiday/Christmas fundraising!... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Always thank your donors. And not only with the post-gift thank-you letter. Find other ways to make sure they never miss that fact that their giving matters and is appreciated. Here are some great ideas from The Nonprofit Marketing Blog at Beyond Traditional Donor Thank You Letters: Send birthday cards to donors. Have board members personally call donors to say thank you. Ask those who directly benefit from donations to write a handwritten note of thanks. Create a YouTube video to thank donors when you reach a campaign goal. When something great happens, send a special announcement to donors with... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
I was at a lunch event, and when it came time for the obligatory fundraiser, they made the case. The ask went something like this: In 2010, we raised $5,000. In 2011, we raised $4,000. In 2012, we raised $2,500. Last year we raised $2,000. This year, let's see if we can raise $5,000! It was social proof that we shouldn't give. That giving is less important, less popular, less something the community does each year, year after year. Giving to that cause looked like a sinking ship. The cause was no less important or compelling. But giving to it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
As someone who cares about fundraising, you may have noticed something: There's a lot of truly terrible fundraising out there: Sloppy, vague, full-of-itself, donor-blind fundraising. It persists because it works. If it didn't, there'd be much less of it. And bad fundraising works because of a curious truth: Bad fundraising works because of good donors. Donors want to give. Some are so determined to give, they do the work bad fundraisers fail to do. They fill in what the fundraisers left out, and then respond. When there's no clear call to action, some donors imagine one of their own. When... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's one of the worst pieces of news you can get if you're a fundraiser: The new boss is a writer! Really, I have nothing against writers. I like most of them. But when the executive director, CEO, or president of a nonprofit is a writer, your fundraising is in danger. You can expect trouble and failure. Why is that? It's because being a writer confers no fundraising ability. Writing ability is a great skill to have, but it correlates with being a fundraiser no more than does being left-handed or a great handball player. But being a writer can... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Years ago, I worked at a company where one of the best ways to get ahead was to talk. A lot. Being able to filibuster at a meeting or write staggeringly long emails marked you as a winner. The content of what you had to say wasn't as important as word count. It was the best path to a vice presidency (and this company had a lot of VPs). When you incentivize something, people tend to pursue it. So there were a lot of people at this company who could really keep up a stream of words. Some of them... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
What would you think of a fundraiser who said this: Shame on you, donors! We're glad you give us money, but we're deeply disappointed with your motivations for giving. It stems from your ignorance and flawed character. Your motivations are frankly disgusting. Please -- get your act together. I'd say that fundraiser needs to find work in another profession. Fast! But that's just what someone is saying when they claim that donors are responding to "poverty porn." Poverty porn has to be one of the most insidiously arrogant concepts in the history of fundraising. Think about it: They've labeled fundraising... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're in a real hurry to drive your fundraising program into the ground by driving away your donors, here are some common nonprofit practices that can help you along the way: Write and design to please yourself. If you think success in fundraising is gauged by how it makes you and your colleagues feel about it, you're missing the boat. And missing your donors. What really tickles your fancy is unlikely to motivate them. What works for them will probably annoy you and your pals. Have a braggy, self-centered brand. Fundraising that works shows donors what they can accomplish... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's something so obvious that it's easy to forget, from the Conversational Copywriting blog: The key to great copywriting is to like your audience. Do you like your donors? Of course you do! But it's possible that you -- or someone at your organization -- likes something else a lot more. Like your program, your staff, or even your marketing. And that can torpedo your fundraising. It can make you miss the entire point and end up just wasting your money and your donors' time. As the post notes, when you like your donor, it shows in your messaging ...... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
So you talked some fundraising expert into taking a look at your fundraising project. Nice? Did you send the expert just the direct mail letter or email message? If so, the expert can't help you much. Direct mail is never just a letter. It's an envelope carrying a few things, each having some impact on the effectiveness of the piece: The carrier envelope is the most important. If it doesn't entice people to open it, it doesn't matter how powerful your letter is. The pack will fail. The reply device is the active ingredient. It has to be just as... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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Hey -- how'd you like to know an easy way to increase the cost of your direct mail fundraising -- decreasing response at the same time? Here's how: Add a brochure to the package. It works like magic to make things worse! Brochures almost always depress response in direct mail. (There are, no doubt, exceptions to this. But they are rare. I've never seen a brochure improve results. Or even stay even with a non-brochure mailing.) Here's a fairly typical brochure. It was in a mailing from The International Rescue Committee. It's a good example of why brochures do exactly... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Did I hear someone say "We've got to get Millennial donors" again? Yes, I did. Just about daily. It's not a very smart strategy. And The Agitator is getting annoyed by it too, as in this post: Get Your Millennial Audience Off My Lawn, Part 2. The post cites some findings from recent studies: Millennials are less satisfied in their jobs. Millennials are more narcissistic. Millennials are less philanthropic. Millennials are more philanthropic. Here's the problem. Those first three findings don't reveal anything about Millennials. They tell us what traits that are typical of that age group. Of any generation.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising is all about action. That's true in all media, but it's probably most urgently true online. It's action now, or nothing will happen. Here's a helpful post from the Classy Blog, at 6 Tips for Effective CTAs That Get Clicks: Balance Creativity and Practicality. Being clever and creative is nice, but not if it means people have to figure out what it means if they click that call-to-action button. Few will bother to figure it out. Keep It Simple. Use as few words as possible to convey what they action you want them to take. Keep It Clear. Be... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I read a blog post a while back that was written by a young blogger, apparently new to fundraising but already pontificating on what we should and shouldn't be doing in our fundraising messages. Some of the points the blogger made were on target about how fundraising copy ought to be but often isn't. But one of the points went like this: I got a 12-page appeal letter in the mail. That's ridiculous! Edit your copy! The blogger apparently thought that the folks who sent the 12-page letter haplessly wrote a ridiculously long message and then neglected the important step... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a piece advice from Seth Godin that can save you a lot of time and trouble: Throat clearing isn't necessary. The main point, we almost always waste our readers' time by the way we start any piece of writing ... The first paragraph, where you lay out what's about to happen. The half-apology you use to preface your comments at the meeting. The email that takes a paragraph or two to get to the point... You can skip those. About 90% of the time when I edit fundraising copy (in any medium), I chop off the beginning. Because it... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Great post at Bloomerang: Nonprofit Newsletters Donors Abhor. It's a kind of how-not-to for your newsletter: Preachy, teachy stuff. Your newsletter should be packed with stories that prove to them that their giving made a difference. Stuff that makes them feel they don't belong. Don't use the newsletter to highlight your megadonors. That just tells everyone else who really matters to you -- and it's not them! Stuff that's hard to comprehend. Remember, they aren't experts. They never will be. They don't need to be. Stuff so out of tune with donor interests it appears you're simply checking something off... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I was at a conference, where a clever consultant showed off a massive integrated awareness/fundraising campaign they'd done for a client. It was good-looking and comprehensive. In addition to direct mail and email, there was print, outdoor advertising, transit ads, and a Facebook strategy. Slide after slide of the slick, attractive creative went by. Someone behind me gasped. It was a sound of admiration and envy. No doubt they were feeling sadly inadequate at the dull one-dimensionality of their own fundraising. Funny thing was, I happened to have some inside knowledge about the campaign. Guess what: It didn't work. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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A few days ago, I posted here about the importance of authenticity: Fundraising and authenticity: what is it, and how to do it. I told about a piece of art that featured a small chunk of a particular meteor that hit South America about 4,000 years ago, along with an artist's rendition of a meteor about to hit planet earth, as if seen from space. My point was about the importance of that little rock being an actual chunk of meteorite, and not some random rock, because realness matters. And it matters in fundraising. Alert reader and podcast co-host Steven... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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Brooks' 5th Law of Fundraising concerns donor complaints, among the most difficult and confounding areas in fundraising, rivalling the mind-bending features of quantum physics: The more effective the fundraising campaign, the more complaints it will generate. First Corollary to the 5th Law The weakest fundraising campaigns do not generate any complaints, and are thus considered successful by many. This leads to a number of other laws and observations about complaints, the people who complain, and how organizations respond to complaints: Brooks' Speculation on Complaint Quality The more silly and unfounded the donor complaint, the more seriously it will be taken.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I know you already know that telling stories is far more effective at motivating donors to give than showering them with statistics. But did you know that the facts-and-stats approach can actually make your donors feel antagonistic? As reported at Clairification (Donor-Centered Storytelling Boosts Fundraising. Period. -- Stories Attract; Data Distracts. Here's how: With data, we naturally put up our dukes to try to refute the information. Fill your content marketing with facts and numbers and you’ll stop your readers dead in their tracks. It makes them feel combative. Fundraising is challenging. Who needs to additional barrier of donors feeling... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
A few years ago, two interesting facts rose to the tops of a number of fundraisers -- minds: In the developing world, a key factor that keeps communities from developing is the oppression of women. Empowering and educating women and girls can transform communities. Most donors are women, and they are increasingly Baby Boomers who grew up in the feminist era. They embrace equality and justice for women more than any generation before them. The possibilities suggested by this confluence were exciting: a new offer for a new generation -- a perfect match. A number of international relief organizations jumped... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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A meteor screamed out of space and slammed into Earth at 150,000 miles per hour. It left a flaming debris field in northern Argentina two miles wide and 12 miles long, with 26 distinct craters. This was 4,200 years ago. I'm thinking about that long-ago disaster after the looking at Edmund Scientific catalog. I found this geektastic item: Framed Print with Authentic Fragment of the Campo Del Cielo Meteorite. It's a picture of a meteor entering the atmosphere (not, I assume, the meteor in question). In the frame below the picture is an actual piece of meteorite taken from the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of success comes from doing a ton of small things right. That's especially true when you're raising funds online. That's why this post at The Daily Egg -- 19 Form Design Best Practices to Get More Conversions -- is so useful. It's a long and very detailed post with many examples, so give yourself time to pay attention to it! Reduce friction (technical problems, unclear instructions, complicated forms) Create a beautifully designed form Only add fields you need (asking for information you don't actually need turns people away) Test multi-step forms against single-step forms Single-column design is best... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now