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Jeff Brooks
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There are a lot of specific things you can do to improve donor retention. The most important is do great fundraising. That will do the most. But there's more, including 4 Donor Retention Strategies You Haven't Thought Of, from Get Fully Funded: Give donors choices. (Everything from how much they give to how you'll communicate with them.) Let donors pay in their own way. (Check, credit card, even PayPal.) Show donors their impact. (Donor-focused newsletters is the place to start!) Build your nonprofit's brand. (That is, make their dealings with you good and memorable experiences.) To these, I'll add a... Continue reading
Posted 10 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
If you're under 60, you don't get it. There are reasons our donor files are dominated by the elderly: For one, accumulating years bring wisdom, and wisdom tells you that giving stuff away is one of the better things you can do. Even more, changes in brain chemistry that come with age push older people toward being more empathetic and other-focused. Both prime qualities for generosity. Unfortunately, a lot of us just don't "get" these people. We just see their unstylishness, their tendency to do things slowly, the odd habits they bring from a past we don't share with them.... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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Most fundraisers know that telling stories is the way to reach donors' hearts and minds and motivate them to give. But what's the right story to tell? It's the donor's story. The story she'll tell after she gives. This podcast takes a look at what we fundraisers can do to give each donor a story to tell. That's the foundation to lasting relationships with donors who love to give to you! 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 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You aren't asking the donor to do something specific and concrete. Your message doesn't repeat the call to action a few times. Your message talks only about your organization, not about the donor -- her values, her aspirations. Your message is trying to educate the donor until she understands well enough to donate. Your message is rational, and not emotional. Your message includes more than one very large number. Photos in your message (if any) don't tell the same story as the words. Your message has been approved by a committee of more than five people. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
It seems everyone is worried about donor retention. And they should be, because it's a hot mess nearly everywhere. As the Bloomerang Blog notes, New Study Shows Donor Retention Rates Are In Decline. Referring to their 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Donor Retention Supplement, Bloomerang notes: ... both new donor and repeat donor retention declined again as it has nearly every single year since these findings were released for the first time in 2008. The cost of that drop in retention is incalculably huge. The solution? There are many, but one that Boomerang points out is this: Get a second gift from... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You've heard about "alternative facts" (that is, lies). They live in places beyond politics. There are many of them in fundraising, as noted by Jason's Blog, at 5 "Alternative Facts" for Advancement Professionals: Alternative Fact 1: Donor fatigue. (No such thing!) Alternative Fact 2: Asking for a planned gift should only occur after you know a donor well. (You can approach a donor with the idea any time.) Alternative Fact 3: The best development professionals raise money by themselves. (It takes a village to do fundraising well.) Alternative Fact 4: Annual giving is not worth our time. (Small-donor fundraising is... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Remember newspapers? When you read them, the low-quality ink on the low-quality paper rubs off onto your hands. Read the Sunday paper, and your hands get black and gritty. It's kind of gross. Ink rub-off is one of the most common complaints newspapers get from readers. In fact, ink rub-off is probably part of the reason for the decline of newspapers: You don't get grimy hands by reading your news on your phone. The people who put out newspapers put a lot of energy into doing it right. Ethics, fairness, good writing, high journalistic standards, good design ... I bet... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I realize I'm taking a risk here, sharing the Fundraising Laws Concerning Consultants and Salespeople, as you could take these as warnings against me. The key to this group of laws is first to understand that there's a category of consultants called Weasels. They look almost exactly like the real thing, but are usually better dressed and have better hair. So remember these laws and equip yourself against the predations of the Weasels. First the disturbing Law of the Increase of Weasels: The number of Weasels active in the fundraising profession approximately doubles every three years. This is followed by... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
The most dangerous enemy of your fundraising program is your executive director's spouse. It's not that he or she is hostile to your fundraising; an attitude of earnest support is far more likely. The problem is the director's spouse carries a toxic combination of ignorance and authority. She is going to lead you astray, but you can't ignore her. Like almost anyone who looks at fundraising materials out of context, the boss's spouse has nothing to go on other than personal taste. Thoughts like I like it or This is ugly tell you nothing about potential fundraising success. Those are... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Do your donors know exactly how awesome they are? They might not if you thank them the way a lot of fundraisers do: Our people and processes are the best! We've accomplished so very much. Thank you. The Communicate! Blog has good thoughts on how not to do that, at What Nonprofit Donors Want to Hear: ...the more you portray your organization as the donor's tool for doing what they want done, the more likely your donors are to give. And to feel proud of themselves. And to give again. When you acknowledge a donor's giving, the subject isn't your... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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How is fundraising likely to do during the Trump administration? We take a look. We believe it will mean very different things to different organizations. Find out what you can expect in the coming months and years. And what you can do to maximize revenue and donor engagement. 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 Feb 2, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Yesterday we looked at some great way to thank your donors by cutting through the noise. Today, thanks to Fired Up Fundraising, are some ways to make any thanking you do a better experience for your donors. How to Craft a Killer Thank You Letter: Make it prompt. Make it personal. Start out in a personal way. Use a warm tone. Be emotional. Send a real letter, not a pre-printed card. Thank smaller gifts warmly. Refer to the donor's past support if you possibly can. Use the donor's name in the salutation. Sign the letter personally and write a note... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
What's it like to be a donor? Do they feel appreciated for their gifts? Do they believe their giving changes the world? The answer depends mostly on what we do. And sadly, as a sector, we fail terribly. Every time someone does one of those "secret shopper" projects -- where they make donations to a number of charities, then track what happens -- the news is discouraging: Many thank-yous take weeks, even months to get to donors. Many of them are simple forms that fulfill IRS requirements, but have no emotional content. Errors are disturbingly frequent. And a meaningful percentage... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
What do you assume to be true about donors? Is it a provable truth, or just an assumption? Knowing the difference is the key to success in fundraising. (Or just about any undertaking.) Here's some help from the 101 Fundraising Blog on getting away from those assumptions that could be undermining your work, at Making assumptions -- a fast track for failure: Get into the habit of checking with yourself and asking, "What am I assuming here – what proof do I have?" Test out your assumptions. For example, ask your supporters why they support you and get to know... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You know the mythical elevator speech? It's that 30-second rundown of what you are your company does that you would give if you talked to strangers on elevators. Tom Ahern, writing at Asking Matters (Make an Elevator Speech that Works), describes an exercise he does with nonprofit people where they write their own elevator speeches. The result is discouraging: Ninety-nine times out of 100, the person delivering her elevator speech never mentions the donor. The donor plays no role at all in the elevator speech. So true. So painfully true. And I wish it were only true of elevator speeches.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
My cat and I are great friends. We love hanging out together. But our relationship is built on delusions: My cat thinks I'm a cat. There's no room in her tiny brain for the idea that she's living with some species other than cats. So she interacts with me the way she would if we were a family of cats. The other delusion: I think my cat is a human. Even though I fully understand she's not sentient and has almost no language capability, I talk to her all the time. And I expect her to pay attention when I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
In major donor fundraising, it's often said that it's harder to get the appointment than it is to get the donation. That's because in our world, time and attention are more precious than money. This is true for nearly everyone, not just wealthy major donors: Time is in much shorter supply than money. And time is the currency of attention. That's what makes fundraising difficult. Not that people don't want to give (though that can be an issue), but that they don't have time to hear you out in the first place. They don't have time to read your mail... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
How well do you thank your donors? It might be the most important thing you do. And for many organizations, it's one of the least thought-through activities. Here's some help from the Guidestar Blog: Nine Mistakes Nonprofits Make Thanking Donors. These errors are common and do all kinds of long-term damage to donor relationships: Delaying (Thank them immediately!) Misspelling (Getting the name wrong could be the worst error of all!) Failing to Personalize the Salutation Yawn-Inducing Content (Make your thanking just as exciting and emotional as your asking.) Neglecting to Mention Something a Donor Asked You to Do (Did they... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Wouldn't you love it if every prospective donor to your organization had already heard of you, knew what you do, and believed you to be effective, efficient, and honest? Your fundraising campaigns would go better. Right? Of course that's true. It's the truth behind one of the biggest lies that bedevil fundraising: "You need to raise awareness before you can raise funds." Lies that have truth behind them are the most dangerous, because they're the most believable. And this one is a lie, as noted by Tom Ahern, at HOAX! "Raising awareness" unmasked: "Raising awareness" is a passive, wait-and-see, hope-and-pray... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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A well-built matching funds offer can raise 10% to 50% more revenue than a similar message without a match. But first, you have to know how to build a matching offer. This free e-book form TrueSense Marketing reveals tested and proven techniques for fielding a successful matching funds campaign in any medium. You'll discover: The 4 ingredients of a successful match offer. The specific language to use that makes a match work best. Why donors respond so well the matching funds. 3 ways to wreck a match offer. Free download from Truesense Marketing: How to Put Matching Funds to Work... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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The most important thing you can learn about fundraising -- the one thing that can make the difference between mediocrity and big-time success -- it's this: It's not about you. It's about your donor! It's so easy to talk about how great our organization is ... and to forget that donors don't give because you're awesome. They give because they are awesome. That's why successful fundraising is about donors, not about us. This is one of the hardest challenges all fundraisers face: Talking to donors about donors, and not bragging about ourselves. This podcast also contains the rarest of elements:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's another truth from Roy H. Williams' MondayMorningMemo that's not at all aimed at fundraising, but speaks a great truth that can help you be a much better fundraiser. How to Win BIG if You're a Millennial: Bad ads are about you, your company, your product, your service. Good ads are about the customer and how their sun will shine brighter, the air around them will glitter with magic, and the stars in their darkness will twinkle more richly if they choose to bring you into their world. If you're wondering why he addresses this specifically to millennials, it's because... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
What exactly is "donor love"? For some, it's just an attitude. For others, it means doing fundraising you like on the mistaken assumption that donors are carbon copies of you. If you're serious about fundraising, donor love is a series of actions and approaches to fundraising, as outlined by Agents of Good, at Donor Love: A Perfect Imperfection: Show donors that they are heroes. Share amazing and inspiring stories. Connect to donors' values and emotions. Make a donor fall, and stay, in love with their charity. Ask for one thing and only one thing. Find the right voice for your... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing has been recognized with a CausePlanet Choice Award 2016. It's one of several books I'm honored to be included among, chosen for "originality, insight, inspiration and applicability." Brooks explains what fundraising writing is not and what it should be. He does so in a way that tells you exactly what to avoid and what to try in your next attempt to sway your audience. A fair amount is appropriately dedicated to the many ways you can create a compelling story even when you're stumped. Maybe it's... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a pretty good chance you sound like a complete idiot. Not you personally (I hope), but your organization's public communications. Most advertising, direct marketing -- and fundraising -- uses a tone you'd never use with your friends. If you did, they'd laugh in your face. Or run away. Really. Think of the junk that's freely scattered through copy. Like: Phony superlatives, like "leading," "best," "most important." Meaningless, high-flown claims, like "cutting-edge" and "pioneering." Self-aggrandizement. Look-at-me copy that talks at donors, not about them. Unnaturally long and complex sentences that abandon all pretense of human speech. Bastardizations like © and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now