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Jeff Brooks
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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 10 minutes ago 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 yesterday 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 2 days ago 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 6 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
Writers read. Kind of the way everyone else eats. It's what keeps the writing muscles going. If you're a fundraising writer, you might enjoy this great list from Roy Williams' The Monday Morning Memo: Books to Make You a Better Writer. You see, these aren't books that teach you about your professional craft; they're about completely unrelated other things. You read them to take in what great writing is: sentence construction, word selection, description, rhythm, pacing. All the things that make writing readable, wonderful, and worth spending time with. Here's Roy's list: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck The Poetry... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I edit a lot of fundraising copy. And I work with veteran professional writers who know their stuff. I'm not helping them hammer out the basics. Most of edits I make to others' copy (and my own) are in these categories: Removing the first one to three paragraphs. You'd be amazed. This works almost every time. Almost every writer (including me) spends the opening paragraph or so "warming up" before getting down to the real work. Removing the word "that." Not every time it appears, but most of the time. Sentences like I hope that you will give usually go... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
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Kiva sent me this infographic to thank me for my giving. Ten points (out of ten) to Kiva for being thankful and expressing it. But two points for the way they thanked me. Take a look at the infographic and see if you can tell why I'm taking such a churlish attitude toward their gratitude: 905,086 loans? Totaling $774 million? In 83 countries? Excuse me, but I've given two or three loans. Adding up to not much over $100. In a couple of countries. My part in all that success is tiny. Barely a droplet in a great lake of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
When someone makes an online donation to you for the first time, it's a great moment. And what you do with that moment will have a lot of impact on whether they ever give again, and how receptive they will be to future requests. Here are some ideas for your welcome email, from Constant Contact: 4 Things Your Welcome Email Must Do. These are aimed at commercial marketing, but you can make them work in your fundraising: Reaffirm they made the right decision. (Really make it clear what great things their giving will accomplish.) Tell them what to expect in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Some of your donors think your organization is a scam. Really. Giving is a real leap of faith for many donors. So building trust is one of the most important things you can do to cement the relationship. Here are 10 Ways to Build Donor Trust and Overcome Negative Views about Charities from Clarification: Thank promptly and personally (so important, yet so often not done!) Report on impact Be honest and transparent Provide outstanding donor service Don't just report; communicate Serve up donor-centered content Stand for something Make an enemy Develop personal connections Do no harm If you do these... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm pretty sure "donor fatigue" is only a self-serving myth cooked up by unsuccessful fundraisers to let themselves off the hook for their lack of success. What donor fatigue really means is poor response because of poor fundraising. Hilborn Charity eNEWS agrees with me, and notes that one of the best things we can do to keep fundraising fresh and non-fatiguing for donors is to thank them. Donor fatigue vs. the surprising half-life of gratitude: One thing humans never tire of is being the recipient of honest, heartfelt gratitude. Like a timeless piece of music, gratitude has an incredibly long... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Another cool thing about email fundraising is that you can create fully automatic campaigns that really connect with donors with relevant, useful messages. These can just run in the background, triggered mainly by actions people take on your website. The Kissmetrics Blog, at Sell Like Amazon: 7 Examples of Triggered, Automated, and Personalized Marketing Campaigns You Can Set Up This Weekend. These are aimed at commercial marketing email, but the ideas can apply to fundraising: Personalized Call To Action Once a donor as given, you now have a precious piece of information about them: You know something that stirred them... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. When the topic is email fundraising, testing subject lines inevitably comes up. Of course, subject lines are critical. Think of the famous one from Barack Obama's organization: "Hey." It was a big winner. But the From line can also make a big difference in open rates. After all, one of the reasons Hey worked was that it was the president saying it. Think about it. When you get an email, do you look only at the subject line? No, you almost certainly look to see who it's from. And that's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Sometimes you just have to cut costs. Cutting costs saves money, but it does other things too. And you can't cut your way to greatness. The Veritus Group Blog reminds us that the path to greatness for nonprofits is to be better -- not spend less: A Race to the Top. Check out this different way of looking at this issue: You pay your staff well. Your projects and programs are the best. You invest in showing impact. You cultivate a robust fundraising program. You have high overhead ... and you don't apologize for it. I've been in plenty of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Remember this goofy TV spot for Old Spice? The best thing about it is something most people won't quite notice: Or watch it here on YouTube. Roy H. Williams, in his MondayMorningMemo, Swim to Kansas praises this spot for the script. Specifically for its use of the imperative voice -- it's steady stream of "commands": Look at your man. Now back to me. Now back at your man. Now back to me. When you want people to do something, the best approach is to tell them to do it. I hope you're saying Duh. But all too often in fundraising,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
When strangers ask me questions about fundraising, I've noticed there are two distinct categories of question: Vague, broad questions mostly about how to get people to treat them they way they want to be treated. Focused, specific questions about how to tackle fundraising challenges. The first group of questions are what the amateurs ask. The second is what the professionals ask. And the odd thing is, some of the amateurs have been in the business for years, even decades. And some of the professionals started last week. The difference is a mindset. It's captured by Goins, Writer at 7 Things... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
How many times have you been told to create direct mail fundraising that's "bold," "colorful," "noticeable"? There's a good chance that's the wrong approach, according to the Avalon blog, at Dispelling Myths: "Our Packages Should Be More Interesting": ... the data-driven truth is that popular and visually pleasing images, photos, color, gloss, and inserts do not always lead to better direct mail performance. I can vouch for that. Plain-looking direct mail often performs best. I wouldn't say fancy doesn't work. It can. But plain, simple, boring direct mail is the winner much of the time. That's not to say you... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Take note! A large national health charity is giving donors credit for medical progress. The ALS Association, beneficiary of the Ice Bucket Challenge of two years ago, is now publicly stating that the extraordinary outpouring of funds from the Challenge is now directly connected with a research breakthrough. If I were wearing a hat, I'd take it off to the ALS Association. This shouldn't be newsworthy, but it is. Far too few nonprofits ever report back on the impact of donations. Especially medical charities. Medical research moves slowly, is usually hard to explain to non-experts, and is rarely dramatic. Plus... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Our donors just don't make the grade. We really need to increase their sophistication about our work. We've got to stop coddling them with simple and easy-to-grasp fundraising offers. That seems to be the message of How can you save a child for £1 a day? at The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network, a UK blog about nonprofit issues. A charity executive sniffs at the "save a child with £1 per day" offers: The proliferation of quick-fix and cheap solutions, like the ones offered by charities on the street, has led society to accept an inferior standard of development for the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Are you the only professional fundraiser in your organization? That's the way it is for many -- probably most -- fundraisers. That can be hard. Worst of all is the isolation it can mean. I can hardly imagine it, having spent most of my career at agencies where I had lots of smart, dedicated colleagues to talk with and learn from. If you're alone, check out this post at the Veritus Group Blog: The Power of Being Connected. They suggest these ways of getting connected: Join a local AFP chapter. They (and other specialized organizations) are pretty much everywhere. Reach... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I've just gone through the direct-mail swipe file, looking for really superb donor-focused copy. Bad news: I didn't find any. I found a lot of self-focused, look-at-me copy. I found a few examples that were not quite so bad. I even found a couple that were decent, if not great. I'll show you a few: Bad It is amazing to realize that the most significant advancements in the treatment of [disease] have been made in my lifetime. Even more astonishing is the fact that so many of these advancements have originated right here in [City]. This guy must walk around... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Do pop-ups on your website work? According to npENGAGE at Should You Use Pop-Ups on Your Nonprofit Website? Case studies have shown as much as 1,000% increases in email subscribers over a month of using pop-ups. So how do you make them work like that? According to the post, these are some pop-up best practices: Tell them exactly what they are about to do. Engage users in your mission. Take them straight to the destination. See what you can accomplish with a well-built pop-up greeting visitors to your website. Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Civil Society Fundraising Blog reports on a UK study that found something that won't surprise experienced fundraisers: Victim blaming: why donors care less about wars than earthquakes. That's right: When it comes to humanitarian disasters, donors are much more likely to give when the disaster is natural than when it's manmade. Last year's quake in Nepal, the 2010 Haiti quake, and other earthquakes, typhoons -- those open the hearts and wallets of huge numbers of donors (and nondonors). The current crisis in Syria -- equally horrific in terms of human suffering ... not so much. Many donors are cynical about... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
You've heard that one before: The fundraising project failed because our donors hated it. No they didn't. It failed because you didn't make them care. Failed fundraising is nearly always bland, flat, confusing, irrelevant. Designed specifically to avoid being hated. If donors had hated it, you'd have got more response. When people hate something, they are more likely to respond. It's when they don't care that you get little response. Any experienced fundraiser will tell you: The most successful campaigns are also the ones that generate the most complaints. If you are able to create something that people hate, congratulations!... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now