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Jeff Brooks
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Anyone who believe fundraising is a matter of "getting the word out" isn't really a fundraiser. (They're also not a marketer or advertiser of any kind.) Which is why the Marketing the Arts to Death blog says it's Time To Fire People Who Say 'Get The Word Out'. Spraying your message out to the general public under the belief that once they've heard what you do, they'll line up to donate is pure delusion. It doesn't happen. People give when you put a motivating proposition in front of them -- when you show them a specific way they can make... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Despite fast growth several years in a row, online fundraising has not yet reached 10% of total fundraising dollars. Here are a few reasons why from the Washington Intelligence Bureau blog, at Why Snail Mail Works Best: Reliability. Mail has a much higher chance of making it into the donor's hands than an email. Emotional. The same material on paper has more emotional impact than it would online. Tactile Rewards. Touch is important. Donors can't touch email. Increased Personalization. Digital communication has an advantage in this area. But paper is catching up with digital printing. If you're serious about fundraising,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You really need to post this wonderful cartoon from queer ideas: What do donors actually read when you write to them? Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Seemingly minor errors on a donation form can undo all your hard work in the most brilliant online campaign. Here's some help from Kivi's Nonprofit Marketing Blog on finding and fixing some of the common response-killing mistakes, at 7 Common Donation Form Mistakes, Part 1 and Part 2: Not making a good first impression. (Not being immediately clear and obvious what the page is for.) Not keeping donor data safe. Requiring too much info. (Don't require their phone number. You want it, but they may not want to give it.) Sending donors to more than one page. (Keep that form... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Good use of data can help you create messages for your donors that are more relevant, interesting -- and effective. But data can betray you in embarrassing ways. Like it does in this letter from an organization I support. (I'm hiding their identity because I don't want them to be embarrassed in front of their peers.) Here's the paragraph where things go awry: I'm embarrassed that I neglected to donate for such a long time. It's an excellent cause. But does that call for sarcasm? Okay, I know they aren't being sarcastic, but it comes across that way: All the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
It's possible that the most important thing you can do is to shift your approach to the donors you get and cultivate, seeking fewer donors of higher values. It's a smarter way to raise funds for most organizations (but not all). The Direct To Donor blog has some tactics that can help you make that change, at Implications of more donors versus better donors: Up your ask strings. (Ask for more. You'll often get more from each donor.) Change your defaults. (Make the default ask amount on your web giving forms higher.) Move up your list selects. (Rent higher value... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a truly helpful way to think about donors and their giving, from colludo: Donor as Artist: Inspiring the Art of Creating Change. Imagine your donor is an artist, and you are the medium they use to make art -- that is, the better world they want -- by giving to your organization: Be the mirror, the window, & provide the canvas. Show them how giving to you puts their values into action, solves the problem they care about. Be a patron of gratitude. Affirm what they've done. Praise them for their generosity and vision. Give them all the credit!... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you serve on a nonprofit board? You should. Joan Garry shows why, at Why Everyone Should Join a Nonprofit Board: You will learn patience. (I can vouch for this!) You will learn how to ask for money. You will have an experience that enriches your resume. You will meet interesting people who will add to your sphere of influence. You will learn to play nicely in the sandbox. You will learn to appreciate that assets = liabilities. You will learn how to run an effective meeting of people who don't work for you. You will stretch all your intellectual... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Ready to bust some fundraising myths? Here are some from the Institute of Fundraising Blog, at Debunking direct mail myths: The junk mail illusion. Forget all the loudmouths who say everyone hates direct mail. Most of your donors, most of the time, welcome your mail -- and direct mail in general. Direct mail engages only older age groups. There's effective direct mail aimed at all age groups. A more accurate statement: charitable giving engages older age groups more than younger ones. Image is everything. Who you are, what you do, and the words you use to say so matter far... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
From the Good Works Blog, a Magic formula for sure-fire stewardship: Tell the donor again about the problem she was originally solicited about. Tell the donor – yes again – how the problem can be fixed. Instead of talking about your own credibility, I want you to talk about the donor's wisdom in trusting you to provide that solution. Give your donor ALL the credit for bringing the solution to life. This takes place over the arc of the relationship with the donor, not necessarily all during a single solicitation. This formula draws on two truths that fuel excellent fundraising:... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Just because it works doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. This terrible piece of political fundraising, reported by the Seattle Times at Overdue bill? GOP hits new low with this fundraising appeal, crosses an ethical line by appearing overwhelmingly to be something that it's not. Here's the envelope: Nobody would think this is anything other than a real past-due notice. Not a request for funds from th4 Republican National Committee. In fact, that's what one recipient of the piece told the Seattle Times: My heart skipped a few beats. Did I forget to pay my property taxes? Then... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Relationships that are only about one thing tend not to last. This applies especially to our relationships with donors. So don't let asking be the only thing you direct at donors. Include these other things in the mix: Thanking donors for their gifts. Do it in the receipt. Do it anywhere you can. It's maybe the most important thing you can do to keep donors on board. Thank them after a successful project they gave toward. Thank the after a strong year or season. Dream up cool reasons to be thankful, and let donors know. Reporting back what their giving... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Ever been told Stop acquiring new donors until you've improved your retention rates? It's bad advice. We'll take a close look at the important dynamic between acquisition and retention and show you how to arrive at the right balance for your organization. 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. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's an example of fundcrushing I encountered recently while on vacation: Fundcrushing is a form of anti-fundraising that works on the mistaken assumption that people will want to respond to a situation if they understand how huge it is. It's exactly wrong. Donors are far more likely to give when they see how solvable a problem is, not how big. An overwhelmingly huge problem is actually more of a reason not to give. In this case, the daily cost of running the cathedral seems insurmountable. It's not a particularly famous building -- the only other person in the space when... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Don't you love it when donors really get involved in your work -- really care, really think about it, really make it part of their own lives? That's a great situation. When it happens. Which is not often. The Veritus Group Blog, looking at the process of finding large-gift donors who should be cultivated on a person-to-person level points out one of the first questions that comes up when you build a major donor program: How to Qualify Donors: Why Qualify? Not all big-gift donors should be treated in that one-to-one way. Because they don't want to! They just aren't... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
From the Daily Egg, 8 Brain Secrets That Will Turbocharge Email Conversions: We Make Snap Judgments In 3 Seconds Or Less. Use subject lines that create urgency and excitement. If It Stands Out, We'll Remember It. Use bright call-to-action buttons that stand out. Remind People Of The Good Ol' Days. The positive feelings created by nostalgia actually make a person more likely to buy. We Process Images 60,000 Times Faster Than Text If you've told your story with just images and headlines, you're on the right track. We All Tend To Follow The Crowd. Use social proof to show donors... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
How many fundraisers are looking for a way to escape the pain and hard work of raising funds, dreaming that some new social media site or ice bucket or other flim-flam will cause funds to pour in? Too many. And that's too bad, because there's no such thing as a no-work, no-pain path to fundraising success. As long as your organization keeps looking for a magic way out, you won't be doing the real job of fundraising, which is paying close attention to donors and seeking ways to reach them. The 101fundraising blog calls the search for an easy way... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm about to save you a lot of guesswork and time by sharing Brooks' First Law of Fundraising Effectiveness: If it doesn't scare you, at least a little bit, the fundraising probably doesn't have the power it needs to succeed. And the Boss Corollary to Brooks' First Law: The more your boss hates the fundraising, the better it will do. Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Afraid the US presidential election is going to crush your fundraising? Don't be. At least, don't blame all your woes on the election. A recent Blackbaud study, reported at npEngage (Giving in an Election Year) looked at giving in the last presidential election year, 2012, and compared it to giving in 2011. It showed small impact on charitable giving. The study found that donors who gave to national political campaigns in 2012 also gave more to the charitable organizations in 2012 than they did in 2011. The Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving showed a 1.7% increase in giving in 2012... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
There are a lot of reasons to distrust any given website. Do people who should be your donors distrust your website -- and those don't donate? This post from Duct Tape Marketing, 10 reasons why people don't trust your website looks at some of the reasons people don't trust commercial websites. I think you'll agree that these also apply to nonprofit websites: You don't have a detailed About Us page. You don't have a head shot or team photos. You don't have a telephone number listed. You don't have a physical contact address listed. You don't have any certifications, association... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
When I was a young fundraiser, I was an extremist. I zoomed back and forth between two kinds of fundraising extremism. It was kind of fun, and it gave me a continuing sense of self-righteous fervor. But I was missing the boat, over and over again. I went back and forth between what I'll call right-wing fundraising and left-wing fundraising. These are not political terms in any way, but describe approaches to fundraising itself. Let me describe them: Right-wing fundraising This is fundraising that stays with best practices. It's cynical of new approaches. It has advantages and disadvantages... Advantage: Fundraising... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
For most fundraisers, your donors are a lot older than you think. We'll look at why this is so and what it means for you: How do you communicate with these people? About what? And in which channels? Knowing hold old your donors are -- and responding appropriately -- is the key to success in fundraising. Knowledge is power! 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. Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. With the political season in full swing, there's something politicians pursue with almost as much zeal as the election victory itself. It's the applause line. Politicians love it when a line in one of their speeches sets off thunderous applause. But they don't leave this to chance. They use specific techniques -- generally, according to one study, Generating Applause: A Study of Rhetoric and Response at Party Political Conferences (PDF), relying on seven rhetorical devices -- to get people to react. Our goal as fundraisers isn't exactly to get applause,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
As this post at My Emma blog points out, The secret to email success isn't luck. It's knowledge. And knowledge comes from testing. Here are five very smart tests for your email program: Test your subject lines. Test your from name. (There's no one right approach, so test various things.) Test your send times. Test your CTA buttons. (DONATE may be your best bet. Or may not.) Test different types of content. (Short messages, long message, ask, no-ask, other kinds of engagement.) Caveat: If your email list is smaller than 100,000, most tests you run will give you statistically insignificant... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Nearly 60 years ago, American linguist Noam Chomsky wrote one of the most famous sentences in the English language: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. It's a real, grammatically correct sentence. But it has no obvious understandable meaning. The point is that syntax (grammar and usage rules) and semantics (meaning) are completely different things. You can be flawless in the first area but complete mush in the second. A lot of fundraising writing suffers from this problem. It's grammatically flawless. Carefully created, edited, and proofed. Completely clean. But utter nonsense to the donors it's aimed at. Because its creators are talking... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now