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Jeff Brooks
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Thank your donors, and do it well! That's probably the best advice you can get as a fundraiser. Follow it, and you will raise more money. Here are some great tips from the Bloomerang blog, at Top 5 Ways to Appreciate Your Donors: Thank them promptly after receiving their gift. Show them what their gift enabled you to accomplish. Invite them to mission-related events. Ask for their advice and listen to it. Find at least two opportunities each year to communicate personally with each donor. If you do these things, you will be among the few that do. As competition... Continue reading
Posted 12 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
Grateful patients are a powerful source of new donors for hospitals and medical centers. Having a well-built program for getting these potential powerhouse donors on board can dramatically boost revenue at a very reasonable cost. The Heroic Fundraising has some great strategies at 8 Tips to Acquire Grateful Patient Donors: A great patient experience starts with your staff. (When frontline medical staff understand the importance of fundraising, they can be powerful voices with patients.) Multichannel fundraising is best. (Use direct mail, digital, and the telephone. It works!) Timing your appeals is critical when reaching out to grateful patients. (Response to... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Seth Godin 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 it... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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We've looked at a lot of nonprofit websites. More than is good for our mental health, frankly. And we've found three things to be wrong with nearly all of them: Your website doesn't present some kind of need that the donor can meet. The idea of giving is not clear and strong. You've created it to make your leadership and board happy. We'll show you how to fix these common issues and transform your website into the fundraising vehicle you want. To listen, click here to download the audio file or visit the Fundraising Is Beautiful page here, where you'll... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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I know professionals in fundraising who have the feeling that fundraising and giving are a zero-sum game: We somehow get money away from people and we have to be careful that they don't notice we're getting richer at their expense. You're always on tip-toes, afraid the donors will figure it out and bring the whole thing to a crashing end. You need to take a listen to some wisdom from Benjamin Franklin, who said: He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than whom you yourself have obliged. It's called the Ben... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
From the wonderful Monday Morning Memo, here's a look at the three types of marketing copywriters: A gossip trashes competitors. A bore talks about their company and their products. A brilliant writer talks about how they hope to improve some part of your world. (The Beginning of Delight.) I haven't seen too many fundraising writers in the "gossip" category. But I see a lot in the "bore" group. Their fundraising goes on and one about how great their organization is. Donors yawn. And flock to the organizations that have brilliant writers who show them why they should donate to those... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
When I was a young copywriter, my mental picture of the way donors interacted with my work was like this: They read every word of everything we sent them. They gave it careful and thorough consideration. They remembered everything the way you would conversations with a close friend. (The uncomfortable fact that response rates generally stayed in the single digits bothered me quite a lot, as it flew in the face of my mental picture.) Then something happened that changed my picture: the printer for one of my clients messed up and sent the April direct mail appeal again in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
How real are your donors to you? It's so easy to forget that donors are real people -- and not you. Steven Screen, at the Better Fundraising blog describes a pretty cool preventive measure for that, at What A Cardboard Cut-Out Taught Me About Fundraising. In a past job, they had a life-size cardboard cut-out of an older woman they called Mrs. Johnson. She was a constant reminder of the reality of donors -- who are most likely older women. Not young creative professionals. It's a great idea, because forgetting that we are not the donor is probably the most... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Every once in a while, researchers catch up with what smart fundraisers have known for a long time. This time, in research reported at the Hilborn blog (at Is your charity under-delivering on the most important drivers of donor appeal?), it's the amazing fact that emotion, not reason, is the key driver of charitable giving! The research uncovered... ... the significant importance of emotional and personal connections felt by donors. These characteristics are more important than the rational elements we see so often in charity solicitations and appeals; the ones about the relevance of the cause, trust, operating efficiency and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I follow 244 blogs, all of them at least distantly related to our great work of fundraising. These are the blogs I most often get inspiration or ideas from. If you want a great education in fundraising, these are the top blogs to follow: The Agitator Analytical Ones The Better Fundraising Blog Bloomerang Blog charityinfo.ca Clairification For Impact Communicate! Get Fully Funded Blog Getting Attention Hands-on Fundraising Heroic Fundraising Kivi's Nonprofit Marketing Guide Michael Rosen Says Moceanic Blog npENGAGE Pamela Grow re:charity Smart Ideas Social media marketing hacks for nonprofits Veritus Group Passionate Giving blog If you are the author... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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Here, from Wired Impact, Nonprofit Marketing Nonsense That Should Stop Immediately. I know you don't do any of these things. But you can warn your friends: Planning Projects Without Concrete Goals Measuring Your Success by Dumb (or No) Metrics Organizing Web Pages Based on Your Needs Cluttering and Hiding Your Homepage Using Your Blog and Emails to Share Boring Internal News Trying to "Go Viral" or Reach the "General Public" Scrambling to be Social Media Wizards Hoarding Subscribers on Your Mailing List (I don't quite agree with this one. I've seen interesting evidence that continuing to send emails to non-responsive... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Be more creative! I hate it when people say that. I'm all for creativity. No question, we need more of it. Everywhere -- business, government, and especially nonprofits. The idea of being more creative should get us excited, like a racehorse at the starting gate. We should feel freedom and energy to tackle challenges in new ways, to think big, to broaden our horizons. But it seldom works that way when someone says Be more creative. Because, sadly, what "be more creative" really means, almost every time you hear it, is this: Do the work in a way nobody has... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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I love a nerdy, English-major post about writing like this one from COMMUNICATE: How Your Nonprofit Can Listen like Austen, Write like Hemingway. Jane Austen had great ears. She clearly listened to people talking a lot, and with great attention. That's the real joy of reading her novels. Despite the deadpan delivery and situations, the dialog of her characters is often hilarious. (And there's one Austen character whose speech I'm pretty sure is lifted from one of my aunts. I'm not sure how Austen managed the time-travel part of this!) Listen like Austen. Notice the way people talk, and write... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Do donors give out of hope or fear? Most of them: both. But fear -- giving to keep something bad from happening -- is a stronger motivation than hope -- giving to make something good happen. Read this post at Clairification: Fundraising Appeal Psychology: Show People How to Avoid Loss. It navigates the complex interplay of fear and hope in donors' minds. The main thing to remember is that for most donors, most of the time, fear of loss is a stronger motivation than hope of improvement. That's why sad and painful images work so well in fundraising. Why desperate... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the greatest fears fundraisers express to me is that they're talking to their donors too much. That they're annoying people and risk losing their interest and connection entirely. There's a fool-proof way to avoid that, and it's to be relevant and exciting for them, all the time. Here are some ways to do that, from the MarketSmart blog, at Are you communicating with your supporters too frequently? Offer them a chance to feel like a hero in their own life story Offer them a chance to be remembered by others Offer them a chance to get information that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
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Remember the old-time TV star Art Linkletter? Linkletter was a genuine success who found his greatness in a way that critics and experts didn't understand and didn't like. From his obituary (he died in 2010): Television critics and intellectuals found the Linkletter persona bland and his popularity unfathomable. "There is nothing greatly impressive, one way or the other, about his appearance, mannerisms, or his small talk," one newspaper critic wrote. Another referred to his "imperishable banality." Millions of Americans disagreed. They responded to his wholesome, friendly manner and upbeat appeal. Women ... loved his easy, enthusiastic way with children. I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
The donor you already have is far more valuable the donor you hope to acquire. Here's why, from the Bloomerang blog, at 3 Reasons Why Donor Retention Trumps New Donor Acquisition: Most Major Gifts are Made after 5 Years of Giving. That's right -- the large majority of major donors spend the first part of their relationship with you as general donors. If you if you aren't getting new donors, you aren't getting major donors. Lifetime Value Rules Over All. The longer the donor stays with you the higher their value. Higher Costs to Acquire Donors Versus Retaining Them. Donor... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
A few weeks ago, our kitchen sink got clogged. Gray water swirling with bits of garbage filled the sink to the rim. I yelled at it for a while -- that usually works. But it wouldn't go down. So we called a plumber. While the plumber was working on the sink, I noticed something disturbing: the drain pipe under the sink didn't just go straight down. It curved back up, then down again. No wonder the sink gets stopped up! I pointed out this obvious error to the plumber. He replied with some ridiculous mumbo-jumbo about keeping bad smells from... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
In a way, fundraising this time of year is easier than it is the rest of the year: Donors are in a giving mood. The Holidays put them there. Donors (in the US and some other countries) are thinking about tax deductions, which creates a strong "deadline" of December 31. In this atmosphere, we don't need to spend as much energy making our case. We just need to be there. And as helpfully outlined in the Guidestar post -- Year-End Fundraising: Give Donors What They Want -- give them what they want: Short-term, tangible goals with clear deadlines Personal communication... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising is a mental game. It's easy to learn the techniques and skills of effective fundraising. What hold most fundraisers back are the attitudes. Attitudes about donors and our relationships with them. You'll want to read this post from the Better Fundraising blog: Lessons from 25 Year-End Fundraising Seasons. It tells us about some of those self-destructive attitudes. (It also includes some other lessons well worth your reading.) Here are those two attitudes that Could be holding you back: Our fundraising makes people give gifts they don't really want to give. Every donor receives every message we send. Both wildly... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic. He blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. As fundraisers, we’re all about showing donors the love. We want to demonstrate to donors that we like them and appreciate them. It turns out there’s an easy way to do it. It’s by asking questions. Recent research reported by the Harvard Business School (It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: Question-asking Increases Liking) backs this up. In the study, people were assigned in pairs to talk with one another. Beforehand, one person in the pair was told in private to ask nine questions or more, while the other was told... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
If you or others in your organization think you're doing your donors a favor by not asking them for money, please think again. And read this post from the Passionate Giving blog: Why Are You Denying Donors Joy?. Donors want to give! ... if you don't plan to ask your donors for gifts, you are denying them the joy of what it means to make an impact with their giving. Your donors want to do something great through your organization's mission.... The greatest thing you can do for your donors is to ask them to do something amazing that will... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
I hope you had a good Giving Tuesday last week. If you did, you're in good company. Blackbaud reports that among their large client base, Giving Tuesday giving was up 28% over last year -- after double-digit increases every year since the first one in 2012. Other measures show similar big growth. Some, most notably The Agitator, are skeptical of this new holiday, saying it's a distraction from real fundraising. I largely agree with the A-guys. I think it's a fad that will run its course and fizzle out. (Of course, I've been saying that for four years now ...... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
What you believe about donors has a lot to do with how effective you can be at asking them to give. If you think they're angry, tight-fisted, and about to walk away from you --your fundraising is going to be pretty bad. Because that's not at all what's going on with most donors. Here's a better way of looking at donors from the For Impact Blog; The Most Important Story is the Story You Tell Yourself. The post is about major donors and meeting them in person. But the approach works well for thinking about any donors: They are not... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Next time some social media guru tells you that traditional marketing approaches are dead, you have a right to punch him or her in the nose. You should not exercise that right, but you have it nonetheless. Someone who encourages you to ignore basic fundraising knowledge (like the importance of measuring your activities and making decisions based on those measurements) is a Dangerously Ignorant Guru, or DIG. The DIGs have it partly right: Social media change a lot of things about marketing and fundraising. But they don't change the basics, like: You still have to raise funds at an acceptable... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now