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Jeff Brooks
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Do you think of your donors as heroes? How about as superheroes? The 101fundraising blog has some suggestions at Treat donors like the superheroes they are: You write stories about them You ask for their help when in need You smooth the communication with them You keep them in the loop with all developments You prove them you are the right ally to win the battle You should never forget them Here's another way to treat donors as superheroes: Think of your organization has their sidekick. You're not quite as awesome as they are, but you are very helpful, and... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
User research by the Nielsen Norman Group shows us 5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites: Clearly Explain What the Organization Does. ("On average, it took users about 6 minutes to locate information about the organization’s purpose, which was far too long. A task time of 1 minute for this crucial task would be a more reasonable goal....") Disclose How Donations are Used. ("Those who couldn’t find the information were aggravated and thought the organization was inefficient or trying to bury those details.") Display Third Party Endorsements. Provide a Noticeable and Clear Link to Donate. ("...25% of... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
It's the one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your fundraising bottom line: repetition. Or, as Willis Turner in FundRaising Success magazine says, If It's Worth Saying, It's Worth Saying Again. Repetition -- mailing or emailing the same message again -- works: Despite what many people think, simple repetition is one of the most powerful tools in your creative arsenal. The savviest fundraisers use it all the time to ratchet up emotion -- and results -- from their donors. I saw a study once of new direct-mail donors. On average, these donors had received the direct-mail acquisition... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You've probably seen this, as it roars through social media, getting a lot of enthusiasm from word people: Or watch it here. Okay, it's a fun song; it made me laugh. But it's a little bit evil. Because it preys on a weakness we word people have: We think we're superior to other people. The fact that we pay more attention to language gives us no right to label people who don't as "dumb mouth breathers." That's just churlish. It shrivels your soul and probably makes you a weaker writer. Grammar Girl says it best at Weird Al's "Word Crimes"... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic In fundraising appeals, we have a one-track mind. We ask for money, but rarely if ever for donors' time as volunteers. Asking donors to give their time may increase their giving, research shows. In one study, The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect, people were split into two groups. One group was asked how many hours they'd be willing to give as volunteers to a certain charity, while the other group wasn't asked about volunteering at all. Then both groups were asked how much money they'd give. The people who weren't asked about volunteering gave... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
If your message to donors is all about how great your organization is, how deserving you are of support, you aren't really giving people a reason to give. Real fundraising is showing donors how your organization connects with the donor's personal mission and values. You recognize how great they are, how important their mission -- and you seek to work with them. Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of people in nonprofit organizations struggle with fundraising, because it feels to them like begging: socially questionable, awkward, ethically gray. They shouldn't. Motivating people to give is itself one of the most important things you do. In fact, it may be the most important thing you do, given the positive impact you have on your donors. The Veritus Group blog says Donors Need to Give, More than You Need the Money, and they're right. Here's why: Giving Subdues the Power of Money. (Money can wreck your life. Really. But giving it away can short-circuit its power.) Giving Blesses... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A well-made giving page is probably the more important element of successful online fundraising. Here are 5 Proven Ways to Increase Online Donations from the Constant Contact blog: Make it ridiculously easy (as few steps as possible, no fields that aren't completely necessary, no requiring them to log in) Make it mobile Make it match the rest of your website (in fact, make it match what you're doing in direct mail too -- there's a good chance that's what sent them there!) Make it urgent Make it recurring Take a close and critical look at your giving pages. Do They... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Simplicity is one of the greatest virtues of fundraising copy. Master simplicity, and you're well on your way to real mastery. Copyblogger has some hints for simplicity aimed at commercial writing, but they work well for fundraising. Read 6 Steps for Writing Simple Copy That Sells: Have only one goal (seriously: just one) Only have one audience Make it conversational … by actually conversing Avoid jargon and "insider" language Cut your adjectives in half and your adverbs altogether (almost) Cut 'til it hurts Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You probably had an English teacher at some point who sang the praises of a little white book titled The Elements of Style, often referred to by its authors, Strunk and White. If you were forced to buy this book, I urge you to free yourself from its clutches. If someone recommends it, telling you it's a type of holy book for writers, politely say no thanks. Strunk and White has more bad writing advice per page than almost any other book published. Follow it, and you'll hamper your style and become a weaker fundraising writer. Not all of its... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Even if you aren't aware of it, you have a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for your donors. It's the thing that will cause them to give (or fail to cause them to give). Looking at the challenge of building a strong UVP in commercial sales, the Unbounce blog notes that we sometimes drive away sales by getting the UVP wrong. Why Your Unique Value Proposition is Killing Your Landing Page Conversions and How to Fix It: Quickly and clearly convey the value of what you are offering. State benefits as well as features. Address the key needs and pain points... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
My cat's food smells so bad it almost makes me gag. Judging by the odor, it's "Mixed Rotting Fish Guts." But the picture on the can looks like a wonderful salmon steak, cooked and ready to eat. Since I'm the one buying the cat food, the manufacturer knows they'd better appeal to me on the can. Once the can is open, it's all for the cat. And she looooves Mixed Rotting Fish Guts. It's the light of all nine of her lives. That's a lot like fundraising, as noted by Seth Godin at Cat food is for people: It's easy... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Sometimes you feel like a wrung-out sponge. No more ideas, no more creative energy, no more inspiration. That sucks. Here are some ways to get the creativity back, from Geoff Livingston's blog, at 15 Ways to Restore Your Creativity: Take a Vacation Explore a Different Creative Path Meditate Go to a Live Event Watch a Movie Hike in Some Place of Natural Beauty Take a Nap Watch the Sun Rise or Set Journal Play with Your Kids (if you have them) Admire Someone Else's Work Visit a Museum Play a Game Work Out Enjoy Time with Your Partner Here are... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Excerpted from my new book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving. Your mission may be only half of the good you're doing in the world. The other half is your fundraising. You'll be a better fundraiser when you embrace this truth. When you persuade a donor to give, you are not taking something away from her; you are adding grace to her life. Herbank balance may be temporarily lower, but she's meaningfully richer because of the gift. Here are some of the ways giving makes life better: Giving helps donors become more... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Problem donation pages just might be the top cause of weak online fundraising. I'm guessing that because most donation pages have serious problems that drive away donors. Here's some help from John Haydon's blog: 19 Ways to Raise More Money From Your Donation Pages. This should get your donation page on track: Ditch the vintage PayPal button Write a powerful headline Use fewer words -- Only focus on your story and your call-to-action. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences Use pictures Use white space to direct the eye Remove the sidebars and navigation menu Reduce steps to donate Only ask for... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You've heard by now that one of the most useful things you can do to help your fundraising program is get as many of your donors as possible enrolled in a monthly giving program. That's easier said than done, but here are some tips from the Bloomerang blog, at 5 Practical Tips to Start Growing Monthly Giving: Commit to making sustainer giving part of your fundraising plan and then actually execute the plan! Start online and then move to offline media. (Do your learning and discovery on the less costly channel.) Start with the end in mind. (Figure out how... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic There's this idea that metaphors are something you sprinkle into copy for added interest like a dash of paprika in a borscht. Nothing could be further from the truth. The metaphors we use dictate how we think about a topic, and -- more importantly for our purposes in writing fundraising copy -- they dictate how people will respond to our messaging. As some interesting cognitive-science research reveals. In this study, Metaphors We Think With: The Role of Metaphor in Reasoning, researchers created two paragraphs about crime in a city. In one paragraph, crime was referred... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's something good your fundraising does other than raise funds: It connects people who need connection. The Cause & Effect blog, noting a study on loneliness, pointed this out recently, at Fundraisers -- your caring stewardship might ease a donor's loneliness. It's true: Many people are lonely. Having less human contact than they want or need. It's typically more common for older people -- that is, your donors. When you make contact with them, it may be very welcome to them. That's why they pay attention to our messages in ways that sometimes puzzle us. ... it adds an importance... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
You may have noticed that odd little changes to your website can make a real difference. And what works varies from one site to another. The key to doing your best is testing. Here are a whole bunch of website test ideas from the Kissmetricsblog, at 19 Obvious A/B Tests You Should Run on Your Website. Here are the test ideas best for fundraising websites: Serif vs. Sans Serif type Type colors (Note: what stands out gets clicked) Font Size Typefaces Call-to-action (CTA) Position CTA Color CTA Text Short-Form Copy vs. Long-Form Copy Video vs. Text Sales Pages Actual Text... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
My idea of a nonprofit that's stuck in the past is one whose database is a shoebox full of 3 x 5 cards. Know Your Own Bone has a more immediate past in mind, at Is your Nonprofit Living in the Past? Nine Outdated Ways of Thinking That Are Hurting Your Organization: You separate marketing and digital marketing because you think they are different You identify online donors and you treat them differently than offline donors You think marketing and fundraising serve independent functions You think marketing performs a service function for the organization Your social media managers operate in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Yesterday, we looked at Seven Secrets of Successful Fundraising. Three days ago, it was 7 Secrets of telling great fundraising stories. Today it's seven rules, this list from The Fundraising Authority: The 7 Fundamental Rules of Amazing Donor Communications. Is there some seven in the air? Look at Donor Communications as a System and a Process. (It's not just one ask and one gift. It's a relationship.) People Like to Feel Like Part of a Team. (Treat your donors like insiders.) Donors Like to Invest in Causes Bigger that Themselves. Write for Your Readers, Not Your High School English Teacher.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Everything you know about fundraising in a seven-point list? Why not? I like this one from Tobin Aldrich: Seven Secrets of Successful Fundraising: Believe in the cause Take the long view Have a plan Focus on what's important Be bold Challenge everything Own your numbers There are years of work in this list. Get right on it! Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Every consultant or agency person knows a dirty little secret about serving nonprofits: Shiny Objects Sell. We know we have a much better chance of getting hired by a nonprofit if we show Shiny Objects. Shiny Objects are anything new. Anything you haven't done before. Shiny Objects have unlimited promise. Anything wonderful could happen with a Shiny Object. Ordinary Objects -- things like direct mail -- have known promise. We can predict with some accuracy what will happen with a well-run direct mail program. Which is boring to many nonprofit executives. Some Shiny Objects are going to deliver on their... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Great stories can motivate donors to action. Here's some storytelling how-to from Activate Fundraising, at Non-Profit Storytelling: How to Stand Out in a Crowd: Don't make your story about your charity (if you really want to get results, make it about the donor) Use emotion Show, don't tell Avoid jargon Keep it simple Use pictures Don't forget a call to action I'll had three more: Make it a sad story Don't over-write (you're telling a friend, not trying to win a prize for your prose) Go easy on adjectives and adverbs Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Great stories can make great fundraising. But how do you write great stories? Here's some help from Goins, Writer at 4 Copywriting Techniques Every Good Storyteller Already Knows: Creativity is overrated. Knowledge, experience, and revision are a lot more important. While curiosity kills cats, it rewards writers. Tiny details breathe life into your story. Keep a swipe file. Great writing is not magic. It's just hard work. Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now