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Jeff Brooks
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Excerpt from How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing Let's look at the ingredients of a good headline: News. Headlines should reveal something of interest, not merely label a situation. It could be news in the journalistic sense (Last Night's Deep Freeze Sent Crowds of Homeless to Our Shelter). Or a personal story (Nick Says His Chemo Is Like Being "Rescued by a Monster"). People. Make headlines about people, not situations. Instead of Drought Strikes Northeast Africa, make it Families Flee Worsening Drought. Strong verbs. Use one- or two-syllable verbs that show action... Continue reading
Posted 11 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
Some of your donors don't trust you. They've heard about so many charity scandals, they just thing we're all dishonest. That they give nevertheless is a testimony to the importance and power of charitable giving. But if you can help people believe that you are what you say you are and do with their money what you say you do -- you'll get more support from your donors. And more donors. Here are some ways to build trust, from MarketSmart: 7 captivating ways to build trust so your fundraising efforts work better. Here they are: Make sure your mission is... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
It's a sad fact of life that sometimes you have no choice but to include pointless content in your fundraising because Somebody in your organization thinks it's important and they're a Somebody you can't ignore. In a perfect world, you could enlighten the Somebody by telling them you need to see things through donors' eyes and this piece of content amounts to a big fat waste of ink when you look at it that way. And they'd say, "Oh, I get it. Never mind. Use your fundraising to raise funds. I don't need my personal agenda promoted at the possible... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. The gift string is one of the most overlooked parts of fundraising but also one of the most important. That's the assertion in "The Science of Ask Strings," a fascinating paper by Nick Ellinger. (You can download it here -- registration required.) Ellinger delves into the research on gift strings and talks about the mental shortcuts (heuristics) that we as humans take all the time in our everyday lives, and he shows how the science of gift strings can fit into those shortcuts to... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
How many times have you seen fundraising that says something like this: Children in our city struggle with hunger... That, according to Colludo, is passive, and Your Passive Language is Bullshit. There are places where it's helpful to describe things with all the color and emotion removed. Fundraising is not one of those places. Why? Our donors aren't children. And we need them to feel something real if they are going to give a damn about the work we're trying to get them to help us with. So stop with the passive bullshit and go for the jugular. Fundraising is... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
It's become pretty common for fundraisers to say that you is the magic word of fundraising. But it takes more than just throwing the word around. Because you acts like magic only properly used, as noted at Hands-On Fundraising: Are you using the magic fundraising word? If all you do is sprinkle that word in your otherwise organization-focused copy, you’re not likely to hold a reader’s attention long. When the protagonist in my little story stops being the organization and starts being the donor… then it’s natural that the word you appears often. Here's an unmagical use of the word... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Radio spots are some of the best and worst advertising you'll ever encounter. Some legendary ads have been created (and are still being created) for radio. And some real stinkers that aren't going to move anyone to do anything -- but just might make you aware of things not to do in your fundraising. If you spend all your listening time with Public Radio, you're missing an amazing education in how to persuade. And how not to. I encourage you to spend some time listening to commercial radio, and pay close attention to the ads. And check out this Monday... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Every donor needs three things from you in order to become as fully involved in supporting your organization as they can be: A problem to solve. The way you get the most people to donate is to put your requests in the form of a problem they can help solve. A child is hungry, and they can provide food. An ecosystem is endangered, and they can help protect it. Always present a real problem that has a solution. Evidence of success. Too many would-be donors think all charity is a scam. You can help them overcome that perception -- and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Landing pages are tough territory. Too many donors go to them and then just leave without making a donation. That might be your fault! The Duct Tape Marketing blog has some help for those self-inflected landing page problems, at 3 landing page blunders that can kill your conversions: Why should I care about your offer? (Remind them why they clicked their way to the page in the first place.) Drowning your conversion goal in distractions. (Don't have links to interesting (or boring) other destinations. They have one thing to do while on your landing page.) Failing to keep the scent.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Do negative images work in fundraising? There really isn't a meaningful answer to that question, because it's not a meaningful question by itself. It's a lot like asking "Do colors work in fundraising?" The Cause Marketing blog raised the issue at Don't Use Exploitive Images in Charitable Appeals, Real World Results Suggest. The post is about the Austin Humane Society, which used the image of a happy dog in fundraising, different from the typical sad animal imagery, and saw a significant increase in fundraising results. Does this prove that positive images are better for fundraising than negative? Not even close.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you ever hit writer's block -- that nasty sense that no good words will come no matter how hard you try? Here's some help from Goins, Writer, at What's Really Happening When You Get Writer's Block (and How to Overcome It). Writer's block is an excuse. It's usually some form of fear: fear of failure, fear of making enemies, even fear of success. Here's how to attack the problem: Acknowledge the resistance (take a look at yourself and understand what's blocking you) Identify the root problem (look the fear right in the eye) Ask what's the worst that can... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I got a press release the other day. (Don't get me started on the blustery folly of emailing press releases to bloggers without knowing what they actually blog about!) It was from a flack who thought I'd be interested to know that a certain retail brand was doing some cause marketing for Children's Miracle Network. So far, so good. I hope it works for everyone. The piece reminded me of an important truth: If you want to raise funds, ask a fundraising professional. Because nonprofessionals can get it so spectacularly wrong. This press release, trying to persuade readers to make... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The real story you should be telling in fundraising is not the story about how organization. It's the story about the donor. Here's a presentation that gives you practical tips on how to do that, and motivate more donors to give: Or view it at Slideshare. (Originally presented by me and Jann Schultz of Project HOPE at the 2016 Bridge Conference.) Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Moving your donors into a monthly giving program is one of the most high-impact, important things you can do. It completely transform the effectiveness of your program. Here are some things you should know about building a monthly giving program, from the Charity How To Blog: The 7 fundamentals of Monthly Giving. Here they are: Understand how monthly donors are different. (They are often smaller donors who understand that methodical giving really adds up. Many are also very motivated by the ease and convenience of monthly giving.) Start your program with minimal resources. (Getting started online is a very affordable... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising events are too much work to let attendees' later giving potential go untapped. Here are some guidelines from Clairification on how to turn those attendees into donors who keep on giving, at Ultimate Guide to Convert Event Attendees into Donors: Build follow-up into your event timeline (the event is far from over when it's over) Gather information and feedback (survey or just informally contact attendees; find out how people are feeling) Say thank you (let all the attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and vendors know they're appreciated) Share Event Results (people would like to know, especially those mostly likely to give... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Maybe you're familiar with 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. You may also know the Boss Corollary to Brooks' First Law of Fundraising Effectiveness: The more your boss hates the fundraising, the better it will do. But you may not yet know the Clarifications to the Boss Corollary to Brooks' First Law of Fundraising Effectiveness. I will relieve you of the burden of not knowing these important laws: Clarification #1 to the Boss Corollary to Brooks' First Law of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. One thing that can kill a fundraising appeal is trying to sound intelligent by using fancy-sounding fifty-cent words. That's why, in this political season, it's good to look at the two master communicators who are pitching their ideas -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As fundraisers, we can learn a lot from them. Whatever you may think of their proposals or the lack of them, the candidates know that their political futures depend on their ability to connect with the public through their words. And the fascinating thing is, they... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
You've heard the writing advice attributed to Hemingway: Write drunk, edit sober. It's almost true. A great post at The Expert Editor Blog looks at the science of Hemingway's claim: The Science Behind Writing Drunk and Editing Sober. Turns out the advice would be a lot better if it were revised a bit: Write tipsy, edit on coffee. Here's the infographic: Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Nonprofits have to navigate their way between the Scylla and Charybdis of fundraising: The two errors in thinking that can sink your fundraising effectiveness. 1: Hating everything that's been done before You'd rather do anything than direct mail fundraising. It's just so old hat, so tired. Email, which in marketing terms has yet to come in to its own, and is growing at explosive rates -- to you, it's dead already. Even Facebook is a tired old steam locomotive. If you think this way, you miss the big opportunities. Because the big ones are the older ones. You're also an... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Most fundraisers are haunted by the belief that they might be chasing donors away by asking for gifts too often. Good news: There's little evidence that this happens. In fact, you're much more likely to be losing donors because you ask too infrequently. The Avalon Blog agrees, at Dispelling Myths: "We Are Contacting Donors Too Much": ...while all organizations are different and have varying results, we've found that reducing contact based on gut reactions instead of data can lead to lost revenue and lower donor retention. That's not to say more contact is always better in every way. Smart fundraisers... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. With all the articles, blog posts, and white papers about storytelling in fundraising, it's easy to think that all you have to do is drop a story into an appeal and there you go -- success. Not necessarily so. In research done by Network for Good, 44% of nonprofits polled said that stories had no impact on results or were unsure. 32% said stories somewhat improved results. Only a quarter said that stories definitely improved results. There could be lots of reasons for this, but one might be the way... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot (really a lot of fundraising efforts don't work. And there are some common reasons why, according to MarketSmart, at The top 10 reasons why your donor outreach fails: It's boring It's impersonal It's irrelevant It lacks emotion It's confusing It fails to tell the donor what you want them to do It fails to prove "what's in it for them" It fails to provide a way for the donor to respond to someone directly It fails to make the supporter feel good (see themselves as a hero, pay tribute to someone, make a difference, etc.) It fails to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Your best work happens when you get a creative spark. That's something that doesn't come on cue. But there are ways to encourage the spark, according to 5 Research-Backed Methods to Be More Creative on HubSpot: Stop typecasting yourself. (We all tend to think of ourselves as having a fixed set of strengths. It's partly true, but there's nothing stopping you from building new abilities and approaches. Always try to learn!) Pretend it's someone else's problem. (It's always easier to solve other people's problems. So pretend the problem you're working on is someone else's!) Expose yourself to more diversity of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
How human is your organization in your donors' eyes? It matters. Because a "human" organization is one they can connect with. And acting human can be hard for some organizations, especially larger ones. Here's some help from re: charity, at Be Human: How Your Nonprofit Can Better Connect With Donors: Sell Who You Help, Not Who You Are It's We, Not Me ("we" includes the donor!) Use Emotion Respond, Respond, Respond (any time someone connects, it's an opportunity to deepen the relationship -- if you respond!) Nix The Jargon Don't Force It (connect as much as the donor wants; don't... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. If you want to add emphasis to your fundraising copy, you can use tricks like boldface, italics, underlining, ALL CAPS, and in some cases **asterisks** and other symbols. But be careful not to overuse them. Because if you do, as legendary adman Herschell Gordon Lewis says, "When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing." That's what happens when virtually every paragraph in an appeal is thick with boldfacing, underling, italics, and even boldface and underlining both in the same line of copy. You see this when fundraisers get desperate in their... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now