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Jeff Brooks
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I have two great pieces of advice to pass along. I'll give you the more important one first: Waldo is almost always in the upper right or lower left. You spend most of your time searching the upper left and lower right. That's part of why he's so hard to find. The second piece of advice is related, and comes from the Marketing Experiments blog: Page Layout Research: What the "Where's Waldo?" books can teach us about designing better pages. There's a reason Waldo hides in the upper right or lower left: people look at the other two quadrants a... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
One of the most important (and most widely ignored) truths about fundraising is this: Fear of loss is more motivating than hope of gain. Read more about this at Clairification: Fundraising Appeal Psychology: Show People How to Avoid Loss. Here's what this mainly tells us: You aren't going to raise as much with a message saying, "Everything is great; jump on our awesome bandwagon" as you are by making the case for what won't happen if people don't donate. Donors are most likely to give if they know these things: There's a specific problem they can understand. There's a specific... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
This is the time of year when most fundraisers raise most of their funds. That makes the last few weeks of the year frightening. A mess-up now has bigger impact than one that happens any other time. Which is why I must share Brooks' 3rd Law of Fundraising Reality: Shit happens. Especially in December. But it gets worse... First Corollary to Brooks' Third Law The more embarrassing and damaging a fundraising screw-up, the more likely it is to be first discovered by a board member. That's only the beginning of the pain we face. Much of it is aimed directly... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Maybe you've noticed it in your inbox: A lot of commercial emails don't seem human at all. Same with many of the messages from nonprofits. There may be times when the robotic touch is just what you need. But most of the time, you'll do better if your email gives people the sense that a human was involved. Nonprofit Hub has some hints for this at 5 Ways to Make Your Email Fundraising Appeals Sound More Human: Use first and last names. Build trust with recipients through the sender, subject line, and preview text. Don't use email templates. (Keep it... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger Jennifer Miller, Creative Director at TrueSense Marketing You've just told a compelling story. You've engaged your donors. Drama. Details. Action. Conflict. Solution. It's all there! Now what? If you're not using the C word in your stories -- the call to action -- you're missing a huge opportunity for deeper engagement (not to mention donations). Your call to action is what you're asking donors to do: Take a survey. Share a comment. Volunteer. Spread the word. Give a donation. Make more of these stories possible. These are all actionable things, and they don't always have to be... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Don't you hate it how one of the things that can happen when you send emails to your donors is they unsubscribe? It feels like a slap in the face! But there's more to it than the bad feeling you might get. The Emma Blog has some comfort for you on this topic, at Why email unsubscribes can actually be a good thing: They keep your list full of qualified, engaged prospects. They can alert you to a problem with your email marketing. (An unusual flurry of unsubscribes may be caused by something you did. Better to know that not!)... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Why are so many nonprofit Twitter feeds a lesson in futility? Three reasons, I believe: The Twitter audience isn't quite right for most donors. Twitter isn't a healthy environment for heartfelt, compassionate emotions. (It's much better for zingers, abuse, and panic.) Most nonprofits cluelessly do nothing but talk about themselves and their needs. They don't talk about donors' needs and values. But it's not all bad. The HubSpot Marketing Blog points out 10 Nonprofit Twitter Accounts Doing it Right It seems Twitter is far better at engagement and connection than it is at moving people to take action (especially donating).... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It's hard enough getting people to come to your landing page. It's even harder getting them to "convert" -- which in our case usually is making a donation. The WordStream blog has some pointers for words to avoid, at 7 Conversion-Sabotaging Words to Avoid at All Costs: Killer #1: "Submit" (On CTA buttons, this work depresses conversion. Instead, use specific action words like "Donate" or "Give" or "Feed the hungry.") Killer #2: "Synergy" (And other jargon words that mean nothing to normal people.) Killer #3: "Spam" (Just saying "We won't spam you" turns away conversions.) Killer #4: "We" (As in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
This is probably the toughest fact about fundraising: ugly works. Corny, out-of-date, plain, unattractive fundraising wins nearly every time against sleek, modern, cool, high design. Why? Honestly, I don't know. But I have some theories: Everywhere you look, you see slick, professional design. Design, most of it marketing messages, is in front of us virtually everywhere. No matter how good it is, it's about as remarkable as gray concrete. Homely fundraising messages can really stand out in this context. Just because it's pretty doesn't mean it's readable. Sadly, many in the design profession have abandoned readability for their own idea... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
How many times have you seen the metaphor for your donor file: A big metal bucket. Water is pouring in the top, but it's also leaking out many holes near the bottom. In a sense, that captures what's happening. We gain and lose donors. We only grow if we gain faster than we're losing. But the Bloomerang Blog points out that our picture of the bucket might be part of the problem, at Let's Stop Putting Donors Into A Bucket: The primary reason we have a leaky bucket is because we are putting donors into a bucket. Instead of putting... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It can be hard to critique someone else's writing in a way that's helpful to them, because we tend to start with our gut feeling about it. Telling someone, Yuck! I don't think this is going to work! really isn't helpful. Nor is saying, This is awesome! I love it! Worse yet, gut feelings are not accurate. How you feel about some writing isn't important, even though that feeling may be strong. But it tells you almost nothing about the likely effectiveness of the writing. So when I need to critique a piece of fundraising writing, I start with statistics... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The New York Times says so! Asking for Money? Compliment the Donor, Not Your Organization In a great article about the motivations for charitable giving (which is part of a special section on Philanthropy) that features fundraising heroes Tom Ahern and Jen Love, among others ... the headline says it all! Asking for Money? Compliment the Donor, Not Your Organization. If you believe that and follow it, you are most of the way to powerful donor-focused fundraising that rakes in donations! Talk about the donor, and you'll raise more money. Brag about your organization, and you'll raise less. So few... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's my presentation from last week's Nonprofit Storytelling Conference Here see it here. It's about the three things you owe your donor: A problem to solve. A view of success. A story to tell. If you missed the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, your loss. It was superb. But you can go next year! Or, you can get at least some of the magic by getting the videos. Next best thing to being there! Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Superman is boring. Or he was at first. Think about it. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall building in a single bound. X-ray vision. Invulnerable. He should never lose any conflict with anyone. Yawn. Who could sustain interest in a hero who automatically wins every time? That's why the creators of Superman had to invent "kryptonite" -- a glowing green mineral that makes the Man of Steel go as limp as overcooked pasta if he gets near it. Kryptonite was first mentioned in "The Adventures of Superman" radio show in June 1943.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a recent post from Seth Godin in its entirety: Peeves make lousy pets. They're difficult to care for, they eat a lot, and they don't clean up after themselves. (Pet peeves.) Pet peeves may be one of the most powerful killers of fundraising effectiveness out there. Here's why: Peeve-driven decisions about fundraising are most likely exactly wrong -- bad for fundraising. Because your peeve tells you nothing about what actually works or doesn't work in the real world. Actually, it's more than that. Your peeve is quite likely an indicator of something that does work in the real world.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Every four years, I hear a wave of anxiety from fundraisers about the US presidential election: It's going to kill our results! And every four years, I repeat the same advice: It's not as bad as you think it is. For most of us, the election has little or no impact on fundraising! (See my post from earlier this year: Will the US presidential election devour your fundraising?) But I got to wondering if this one might be different. Maybe more harmful to more fundraising efforts. So a few days before the election, I fielded a Twitter poll. The question... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
A disturbing and often-forgotten reminder from The Agitator: Fundraiser, You're Not Alone. As much as we like to imagine "our" donors are in a monogamous relationship with us, eagerly waiting for our messages with nothing else going on -- it's just not like that. Donors donate. They're on many lists. The older they are, in general, the more different organizations they support and the more mail, email, and calls they get. And it's even more true the last two months of the year. As The Agitator puts it: Why do you think that donor (the one you call yours) will... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's an easy way to improve results of your fundraising emails: Ask donors to do only one thing. As the Emma Blog put it at How Choice Paradox is killing your email click rates, Emails with a single call to action (rather than several) can increase sales a whopping 1617%. The choice paradox is this: While people like to have choices, choices can lead to indecision, which leads to the choice of none. What that can mean in fundraising is when you ask donors to support the annual fund ... and give look into planned giving ... and register for... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising copy is so darned emotional. It swings from sob-story to excitement. It's not ashamed to wear its heart on its sleeve. Maybe this emotionalism rubs you the wrong way. It's not the kind of person you are, and it's not the kind of organization you are part of. Believe me, you aren't the only one asking, "Can't we do this with more dignity and professionalism?" Let me save you some time and money... The dignity and professionalism path will cost you dearly. Countless others have tried it and been burned. Prudent fundraisers have tested professional-sounding messages against emotional ones;... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
If someone in authority tells you your fundraising message is corny, you should not take the to mean you need to revise it so it's not so corny. You should tell that person, "Thanks for your astute observation! I worked very hard to make it corny, and your comment gives me confidence that I succeeded and that it is likely to do well." (Okay, that's probably not the smartest thing to say to some people in authority. You might need to find a more diplomatic way to say it.) Thing is, "corny" is not a bad quality in fundraising. It's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
So Stanford University has shut down its annual fund telephone fundraising program. Visionary? Delusional? I don't know. (It's probably some of both.) Whenever a big player does something big like this, it gets a lot of attention. They're doing something many others wish that could do: Abandon a program that's kind of a pain in the rear -- and (reportedly) suffer no revenue loss by doing so. The American Cancer Society stopped direct mail donor acquisition? That raised a similar buzz. You mean we could stop doing direct mail and it would be okay? Hold your horses. Michael Rosen wisely... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The hour is late. But not too late. You can still go: The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference November 10 - 11, 2016 Chicago Hilton I highly recommend this conference. I go to more conferences than you could shake a stick at. Most of them are somewhere between kinda useful and a dreadful waste of time. Not Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. It's worth every minute, every dollar, and every drop of sweat you put into it. It really is different: There's a real sense of community -- professional colleagues who really care about getting it right. Focus on the practical aspects of connecting... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
In honor of Halloween, when we seek that thrill of tiny fingers on the back of the neck, here are some things that should scare the heck out of fundraisers: Data problems. Bad data can kill your fundraising in the most gruesome and terrifying ways. You can end up talking to the wrong people, not talking to the right people, saying the wrong things to people -- all kinds of nightmarish things. Make sure your files are clean, complete, and accurate -- and that you're pulling what you think you are every time. Cuts to the acquisition budget. When times... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Getting fired sucks. Firing someone sucks too, though not as much. But it needs to be done sometimes. Nonprofit With Balls examines the problem of firing at Why we hold on to bad employees, and why we need to fire people faster: While most people in our field are awesome, there are some people who make others’ lives miserable. You know who they/you are. From chronically failing to follow-through, to not accepting responsibility for mistakes, to manipulating people, to bullying clients and coworkers, to generally being the reason others pray on a daily basis for the zombie apocalypse. Many offices... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Why direct mail is great for many fundraisers It's where most charitable giving is happening today. Direct mail where the action is. If you want to make the big time in fundraising, you probably need to be involved in direct mail. It makes other media work. Direct mail is the best driver of online giving. It's part of the transaction in most telefundraising. If direct mail were to "die," all other fundraising would be in serious trouble too. It's relatively predictable. You can pencil out with some accuracy how things will go with a well-run direct mail program. Easier to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now