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Jeff Brooks
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Email newsletters can be a powerful tool for engaging with your donors and others. Rich and inexpensive, they can really tighten your relationships. Here are some useful tips from Social Media Marketing Hacks For Nonprofits: Top 5 Nonprofit Email Newsletter Mistakes: Adding total strangers to your list without their permission. (This is spamming. Anyone who does it deserves the bad results that will follow.) Giving Subscribers Content That Isn't That Interesting. Sending Your Newsletter to Everyone. (You have different audiences with different needs. Segment them and create separate, relevant newsletters.) Not Asking People to Take Action. (They can't read your... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
There's a sloppy set of assumptions floating around the fundraising community that I believe does deep harm to our work and ourselves. It's the trope that fundraising is basically dishonest, but it has to be that way because donors force it on us. If fundraising were really like that, I'd go find something honest to do, like sell used cars. You can see the "donors make us dishonest" attitude in this recent post at the Guardians' Voluntary Sector Network blog: We must hook donors in but I feel downright sick at the picture charities paint. In charity marketing we know... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
By now just about everyone in fundraising is awake to the importance of donor retention (thanks, in part, to Roger Craver's excellent book, Retention Fundraising). Here's a great post at The Agitator about how to measure retention before it happens: LTV ... The GPS For Fundraisers. You see, retention -- the percentage of donors who give again -- alone only tells you part of what you need to know. The higher the percentage, the better, of course. But what should you do about that? Lifetime Value (LTV; some call it "Long-term Value," meaning the same thing) tells you what donor... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The most important thing you do in, any fundraising situation is the call to action. If the call to action is weak (or non-existent), you're wasting everyone's time -- your own, your donors', and the poor trees who gave their lives for the paper you're misusing. Here's some help on your call to action, from Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog: Five Ways to Sabotage Your Call to Action. Assuming One Size Fits All. Don't send the same message to everyone. Prospects are different from donors. Long-time donors who've supported you for years are different from brand-new donors. Know what kind of... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
When people google your organization, there's a good chance they'll end up on your home page. What they do next depends on what they find there. Here are some ideas from the Classy blog: 4 Ways to Engage Donors from Your Nonprofit Home Page. Consider having these things on your homepage: Present a Clear Donate Button. (And if you're serious about getting it clicked, you'll make sure it strongly contrasts with the rest of the page. Don't let the brand police tell you otherwise!) Tell Donors Exactly How to Get Involved. Specific, non-symbolic, non-ambiguous calls to action that they can... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
There are two fundamentally different approaches fundraisers can take to their donors: One stays in the background and empowers the donor to be the hero. The other stands in front and tells the donor to be a good side-kick -- keeping the hero label for himself. One of these raises a lot more money than the other. Do you know which? And do you know which of them you are? 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 Mar 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Colloquial, conversational writing is one of the most important tools for fundraising. If you're an experienced writer, you know how difficult it is to make your writing seem easy, more like casual speech than like professional writing. Here's a great post from Write to Done: Conversational Writing: 10 Tips by Leo Babauta: Listen to yourself talk. Listen to others talk. Read good conversational writing. Write as if you're talking to a close friend. Address the reader directly. Talk in your head as you write. Eliminate formalities. But don't be too informal. Read it out loud when you're done. If it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I spoke recently with Steven Shattuck at Bloomerang TV about well-run nonprofit organzations: (Or watch it here on YouTube.) The conversation is based on material in my book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand. Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a milestone worth noting: The youngest Boomers are now 50. They're turning 51 this year. That also means the leading edge of Generation X is turning 50. This is important for fundraisers. All Boomers will soon be in their donor years, which I define as 55 and up. And Gen X is about to ease its way into our portfolio. What does that mean for fundraising? Hard to tell, but we learned something interesting from the onslaught of Boomers over the last few years: Life stage trumps generation. That is, a 65-year-old Boomer donor has a lot in common... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It happens all the time: Executive directors, presidents and vice presidents, board members -- people who have the power to change your fundraising -- can't keep their hands off, and they don't understand the damage they're doing to it. It's hard, because they're used to being asked for their opinions. And they're used to being right -- at least perceived as right. It's even more difficult when they come from backgrounds other than fundraising. The conventions of fundraising can look wrong to them. Not knowing otherwise, they may think you're getting the message horribly wrong. Screwing it up in a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Many nonprofit organizations live in mortal fear of complaints from donors. That's not good, because when fear leads, bad results follow. I've seen successful campaigns that were raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and motivating tens of thousands of donors to higher levels of involvement scrapped -- cancelled, because three to five donors made articulate complaints about it. But simply ignoring complaints isn't a good solution. You can control the fear by putting complaints into two classes, each of which calls for a distinct type of response: 1. "You can't please everyone" complaints Really, you can't. If you try, someone... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Check out this post at Fundraising Coach: A surprising tweak to increase donor retention. The surprising tweak is thanking donors quickly. Online, you can do a wonderful thank-you on the page they see immediately after finishing their giving transaction. But the post also noted some important points about the content of the thank-you message: Use sentence fragments. (I think I'd amend that to "Use colloquial, informal language, including sentence fragments.") Know your donors' tone. (Don't use artificial corporatese, no matter how much your boss thinks it's the proper way to communicate. It isn't.) Make impact front and center. (Thanking is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The recent passing of Leonard Nimoy has reminded us how cool a character Mr. Spock was. And -- who would have guessed -- Mr. Spock has a lot to teach us fundraisers. Here are four of those lessons: Be logical. Don't let your emotions cloud your ability to see the truth. How you feel about your fundraising tells you almost nothing about it. Know what's going on with your head -- use your heart to connect with donors, not with yourself. But be emotional too. Surprisingly often, something weird happens to Mr. Spock that causes him to become emotional. Those... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Do your landing pages work? They are the hardest part of online fundraising to get right. Here's something that may help you improve them, from the Unbounce blog: A Classic Formula for Gut Checking Your Landing Page Headlines. Here's what you do: pick an element of your landing page copy. The headline, subhead, or benefit copy -- and ask these questions: Is this useful? Does this provide value to my visitor? Is this unique? Is this different from anything they've seen before? Does it promise a unique benefit? Is this urgent? Does it give them a reason to act now?... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Consider this: Most nonprofit organizations want "real relationships" with their donors. But they communicate with donors as infrequently as possible, and when they do, they tend to talk only about themselves. What kind of relationship-building is that? We'll examine three ways to walk the talk if you really want to build relationships with donors: Communicating frequently enough. Talking to donors about donors. Reporting back to donors about the impact of their giving. 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... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
What's really going on when you motivate donors to give? According to the Veritus Group blog, something deeply spiritual happens. Read The Spirituality of Major Gift Fundraising. The post is about major donor fundraising. But the spirituality of fundraising and giving is no different for any kind of fundraising from any kind of donor. With major donors, you get to watch it happen in person. For the rest of us, you just have to believe it's real: People need to give. It's in our DNA. We will die inside if we don't give of ourselves. [Fundraising] also transforms the life... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. That fundraising message you just wrote -- it's going to get your donors involved and engaged, right? If you're ready to learn the cold truth, try this: Call a donor out of the blue and start asking questions. You may be shocked. You're likely to find out that your donor: Doesn't know what your nonprofit does beyond something hazy like helping people. And she doesn't really care to know more. Doesn't care what your mission statement says. Hasn't read it, doesn't plan to. Doesn't know what your programs are or... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising is not unlike courtship, or at least dating. Good dating advice is a lot like good fundraising advice, as you can read in this post from Marketing the Arts to Death: Dating Advice for Arts Marketers. It's aimed at arts marketers, but I think you'll see how the advice works for fundraisers -- in the arts and beyond: Look Nice -- But Don't Overdo It. Keep it simple. Talk Normal. Stay away from your in-house jargon and over-written copy. Don't Talk About Yourself. Talk about your donor. Don't Lecture. You don't to educate everyone. Really, you don't. Ask. Donors... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I've been inspired by these excellent videos, and I think you might be too. Give yourself a little time and enjoy them! 1. Paul Zak on the future of storytelling A look into the brain science of charitable giving. Here are the two ingredients every story needs in order to move people to give. 6 minutes. View it on its own page 2. Dan Pallotta on how the way we think about charity is wrong Pallotta shows how our industry's focus on overhead dooms many nonprofits to ineffectiveness. Don't get caught in the nonprofit starvation cycle that comes from spending... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
So many fundraisers are that guy. You know the one: The guy who corners you and goes on and on about himself. After a few minutes you're wondering if you can escape by chewing off your leg. That guy doesn't realize he's that guy. A lot of fundraisers don't either. In both cases, they honestly believe going on and on about themselves is as interesting to others as it is to themselves. Hands-On Fundraising has some reality-check advice: You don't want to be that guy. Change the fundraising conversation: Your case isn't about how swell your organization is. It's not... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Itching for a website redesign? Careful: It might not be a smart move. According to research from the Nielsen Norman Group -- reported at Radical Redesign or Incremental Change? -- radical website changes sometimes leave users (your donors) confused, unhappy, and less responsive. Incremental improvements to your website might be a better way to go: You may be bored with your current site, but customers likely aren't: they usually don't sit and stare at the site for extended periods every day. [U]sers tend to like designs that are safe and familiar. So hold your horses. There are some situations where... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
What makes a strong fundraising writer? Here are some good hallmarks from the Copywrite, Ink blog, at Five Qualities That Set Successful Commercial Writers Apart: Invest In First Impressions. (They spend a lot of energy writing headlines.) Think Visually. (They know that words alone don't always make the case.) Understand People. Plan Strategically. (They're obsessed with the audience, the offer, and the context.) Love The Craft. All of these things apply to good fundraising writers. They are worth cultivating. Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
The importance of getting people to click links online has thrown the science of headline writing into high gear, and this has given us some important clues about the words that motivate people to action. A post in the KISSmetrics blog gives us three important things to think about: Hate this Headline? You'll Probably Share the Story. It's about headlines and links, but it can apply to any fundraising we write. There are three things to keep in mind: Make it about pleasure with words that invoke happiness, fun, belonging, awe, love, positivity, strength, empowerment Make it about pain with... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
If you've ever looked at your own fundraising at inwardly shuddered at how unattractive it is, congratulations! You may have a winner on your hands. There's a strong inverse correlation between the likability of a message and its effectiveness. Read this recent article in Forbes: Is The Most Annoying Super Bowl Ad Ever Also The Most Effective? A 2009 Super Bowl ad for CareerBuilder (you can see it below) has been called the one of the "most annoying ads of all time" and even "the worst ad ever." Critics and ordinary viewers alike really hate this ad. But guess what:... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Donor acquisition -- in any medium -- has a fundamentally different "ecosystem" form donor cultivation. Knowing the difference will make you far more effective in both. We discuss the differences in response numbers, cost, messaging, and long-term impact between acquisition and cultivation. 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 Feb 19, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now