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Jeff Brooks
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I believe that the most common reason for fundraising ineffective fundraising is that the fundraisers fail to reach out to donors. They make it about themselves instead. Which is boring. And rude, frankly. And doesn't work, Here are some hints from Hands On Fundraising that can help, at 4 ways you might be making it all about you: You make decisions about donor stewardship based only on how much work something will take. It's far better to think about how much impact or value any activity will generate. You assume your donor is you. This is the most common problem.... Continue reading
Posted 14 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
How do you find a great story to tell in your fundraising? Well, you look for a story that's dramatic, simple, and a clear picture of the need or opportunity your organization exists to address. Easy? Not really. The right story can be hard to find. And there are many forces at work encouraging you to find the wrong story. Here's some help from the Achieve Blog, at 4 Ways Not to Choose a Hero for Your Next Appeal: Do not use a board member's story. Do not select a subject by consensus. Do not use a story simply because... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
From the Bloomerang Blog, 6 Lies Many Small-Shop Nonprofits Believe: My board members know best how to fundraise. The board member who knows how to raise funds is a real oddball. Board members need support, and it must come from you! Our big annual event is the most important fundraising activity of the year. Take a close look at this. Any events are massive time-sucks, and don't raise as much net revenue as you might think. I don’t need to pay my staff what they are worth because they are doing this for ‘the greater good. Low salaries mean you... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of nonprofit thank-you messages say something like this: "Thank you for being our partner...." That's about as thrilling to the donor as telling her she has nice elbows. Donors don't give in order to be our partner. They give to have a positive impact on the world in some specific way. And that's what you should thank them for. Not for what they did in their relationship with you. It's another way to put yourself in the donor's world and not your world. Which leads to better results every time! To listen, click here to download the audio... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
We want donors to feel they're a part of the cause. We want to be inclusive. We want them to know we are paying attention to their generosity and appreciate it. "Membership cards" can help meet these needs. And if Uncle Maynard's mailbox is an indication, they work. I once attended an organization's annual gala. At one point, the president asked everyone to get their membership cards from their wallets and wave them in the air. My heart sank; I had helped produce the membership card mailing. It had done well, but I figured three or four people would actually... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Better writing can make all the difference for your fundraising outcomes. Here are some great tips for writers from Duct Tape Marketing, at 5 Copywriting Tips That Will Explode Your Sales: You must be a bit of a detective. Find out everything you can about your target audience. Any clue you find might be the one that makes all the difference! You must understand and embrace human psychology. The more you know, the better your writing will be. Leverage the power of stories. Always remain honest and authentic. Fake stands out. Authenticity matters. Remember that choosing the right words is... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Would you donate to an organization that never told you what they did with your money? Oh, that's right. You almost surely do that all the time. Because most charitable organizations never tell donors what their gifts accomplished. It's a crime against manners. And if that doesn't matter to your organization, it's one of the main reasons donors stop giving. Listen to Passionate Giving at Keep Telling Your Donor "You Made a Difference": You cannot do enough -- you cannot go overboard -- on giving your donor information on what his giving accomplished. You can easily do too little. So... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Are you calling your donors? Don't let your personal distaste for telemarketing keep you from doing this powerful and relationship-building act! The Chavender blog has Three Reasons Why You Need to Call Your Donors: They want to hear from you. This is much more true than you think. Human connection is valued by many, many donors, and your call is often a welcome event! You get a chance to build rapport with this amazing individual who believes in your mission. You'll learn amazing things about them by talking to them. Its just good manners. Mom was right! Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
It's time -- maybe even crunch time -- to do your year-end fundraising. For most organizations around the world, the big money comes in December. A stumble at the end of the year can hurt you in a big way. So you'll appreciate this post from Fired Up Fundraising: #1 Year-End Fundraising Mistake: A Weak Ask. In a nutshell: Far too many organizations are sending out too few appeals, with timid letters that make weak asks. Here's a two-step secret to success at year-end: Ask more than once during your peak season. Ask boldly, with flair, drama, and urgency. That's... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Most fundraising problems and challenges are imposed by fundraisers on themselves in the form of myths and attitudes that separate them from reality. Here are 5 Myths that Make Asking for Money Hard from Get Fully Funded: Everyone will give to us. Not so. Every cause is a niche cause. Don't waste your time and money trying to reach "everyone." Know your audience and focus on it. The mission speaks for itself. It doesn't. It's up to you to make it compelling. Unless you make it interesting it's boring! Just tell a story and they'll give. Stories are good, but... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Donor fatigue is a way for unsuccessful fundraisers to blame their ineffectiveness on donors. Donors probably do get tired of irrelevant, self-centered fundraising ... but they'll keep on giving to the good stuff that's about their values and goals and puts world-changing action in their hands. Here, according to 101fundraising, are things we can do to keep donors on board -- paying attention and giving, at Shadow boxing with 'donor fatigue': Urgency of need and affinity to the cause. A clear request. A relationship with the cause. Being part of the solution. Bring those things to the party, and your... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's the back of a 6" x 9" envelope from Uncle Maynard's Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge: I've no reason to doubt that this is a good expression of what this Christian teaching ministry does. But as far as fundraising goes, it misses the point entirely. It's a common fundraising mistake. The strategy seems to be something like this: If we can make people see how excellent we are, they'll give. That's not fundraising. It's just bragging. The correct strategy for successful fundraising is this: If we can show people how our mission is a part of their mission,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Too often, when people critique fundraising messages, they talk in the first person. They make it seem as if the critiquer is a donor telling her story of her interactions with the piece and why it did or didn't work. These critiques are full of phrases like these: I don't like it. That confuses me. I feel good about that. This is the wrong way to critique. Saying I wouldn't respond is useless information. Nobody should care one bit how you or I react to a fundraising message. It's not important what you like and dislike -- it's how donors... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Read this excerpt from a direct mail appeal: This has the hallmarks of a story. There's a protagonist (Mary). There's conflict (her situation as a teen mother). There are lots of details. Yet it's really not a story at all, at least not a fundraising story. What this story lacks is the main ingredient of stories: Drama. It says, "This is a dangerous situation for mothers like Mary and their babies." This is an abstract presentation of the situation. Instead, it should dramatize the danger. Make the reader "feel" the danger on an emotional level. This story is an "explainer."... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Normally, if someone said you could double your fundraising revenue even if you you're losing donors, it would raise a snake-oil alert. But there's a way, described at Hilborn Charity eNEWS: How to double revenue with fewer donors. Here's how: Move 10% of your donors to monthly giving. Persuade about 3% of your donors to upgrade their giving to the $500 level or higher Get 5% of your donors to include you in their wills. That will do it. In fact, you could do considerably better than double when you follow this path. Especially if your overall donor file is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Writing a good tagline for an organization is one of the toughest writing challenges around. You have to get a whole lot of things right. So let me show you something that a lot of nonprofits get wrong with their taglines. It's abstraction. A lot of really pointless nonprofit taglines merely throw out an abstraction that's vaguely related to what they do. And that's too bad, because most nonprofits I know actually do specific things. It seems to happen more often than not. Here are some examples: Schools seem to specialize in vague, say-nothing taglines like these: A Great School... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are some old copywriting tricks that can help you write better, stronger fundraising. These are used by fundraising writers with decades of experience under their belts. They can work for you too: Write the reply coupon (or donation page) first. Knowing exactly where everything is pointing helps you stay on task and avoid rabbit trails as you write. Remove nearly all adverbs and most adjectives. Most modifiers are lazy short-cuts that make you feel you've said something powerful when all you've created is more likely self-evident hype. Taking out the modifiers forces you to do what your ought to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I was digging through Uncle Maynard's Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge, looking for a great story I could use as an example of effective storytelling. It was discouraging, because it took a <>long time to find what I was looking for. I eventually found an incredibly wonderful story, I'm glad to say. But I found quite a lot of letters that started so un-promisingly all I could ask was this: Why the heck would anyone keep reading this? Here are three beginnings of letters: Dear Friend in Christ, Children are our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. As we work... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's one of the toughest things in fundraising, a change in the way you tell stories that can dramatically improve results: Tell stories without endings. It goes against your instincts as a storyteller. But it works. Because it moves the would-be donor from a passive consumer of the story you tell to an active part of a story you and she tell -- and actually live -- together. Here's a great example from the Bettr Fundraising blog, at How to Tell Unfinished Stories. Here's how fundraisers often tell stories: Lisa was homeless and in dire straits. But thanks to our... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I've spent nearly all of my almost 30 years in fundraising working at fundraising agencies (most recently TrueSense Marketing. If you wanted to work with me, you had to hire the agency I worked for. Which was problematic, because unless your organization is fairly large, you can't afford that level of service. Or you already have an agency. Or you do all that stuff without an agency. In any case, you and I existed on opposites sides of a sort of Grand Canyon. Not any more! We can work together now. Here's how: Moceanic now offers four Coaching+ courses for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You've seen that photo of a smiling group of people holding a check that's the size of a beach towel, a large donation to a charity. Everyone is happy. And you should not use this photo, says the Madlin Sudn blog, at Say no to giant cheque pictures: Pictures ... need to tell a story and be interesting enough to make you pause and read more. Posed people shaking hands over a big piece of paper (or sometimes small ones), smiling in front of a busy backdrop isn't enough. Step away from the giant cheque picture and make your fundraising... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Seth Godin once asked a question I wish would be widely asked within nonprofit organizations: Is everyone entitled to their opinion? In the consensus-heavy world of nonprofits, a lot of people's opinions are sought and valued. This is probably one of the most destructive forces in our industry. As Seth notes, not everyone's opinion is valuable: If you're working in Accounts Payable and you hate the company's new logo, the people who created it should and must ignore your opinion. It just doesn't matter to anyone but you. I know you don't like cilantro, but whether or not you like... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Because something important is happening in about 5 hours: it's a free webinar titled The Most Powerful Communications Tool: Supporter Connection Survey - with Sean Triner. Here's where to sign up. The 1.5 hour webinar is at: 3:30 PM US Eastern Time 12:30 PM US Pacific Time 8:30 PM GMT 5:30 AM Australian Eastern time Then again at: 8:00 PM US Eastern Time 5:00 PM US Pacific Time 1:00 AM GMT 10:00 AM Australian Eastern time As you can see, it's now or never! Sign up here. And it matters, because the Supporter Connection Survey is a powerful way to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
This is an odd time for me to be posting, at the end of the work day in my time zone. But I say posting time, schmosting time! Because something important is happening in less than 24 hours: it's a free webinar titled The Most Powerful Communications Tool: Supporter Connection Survey - with Sean Triner. The 1.5 hour webinar is tomorrow, August 9 (the 10th some places at: 3:30 PM US Eastern Time 12:30 PM US Pacific Time 8:30 PM GMT 5:30 AM Australian Eastern time (August 10) Then again at: 8:00 PM US Eastern Time 5:00 PM US Pacific... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Thanking donors matters. So any time I get a chance to look at the good thank-you letters, I pay attention. Like this post at Aplos: Sample Thank You Letters to a Donor. Check out the attributes of an effective thank you: The letter starts out with a strong opening focusing on the donor. It tells a story and tells the reader exactly what you'll be doing with their donation. It tells the reader when they can expect to hear from you and offers a phone number and a contact person. The donor's loyalty is acknowledged. It's signed by someone from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now