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Jeff Brooks
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Here's a great list of the things that make fundraising work, from The Agitator at The Keys To Successful Fundraising. Here's the list: An appealing case Competent agency management A reasonable objective A friendly, well-informed constituency Timeliness Numerous points of contact An unhurried period of preparation An adequate scale of giving Substantial preliminary gifts Tested methods Competent direction It's not magic. It's not going to solve all your problems in three easy steps. It's not going to save you from the agony of hard work (In fact, it'll probably force you to do more work). But that's how you succeed.... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Congratulations for working at an organization that's been around for at least a year. The more years, the bigger my congratulations. Organizational longevity is (mostly) a good thing. But let's keep that between us, okay? As the Claxon Marketing blog says: No one cares about your anniversary: Should you celebrate milestones? Sure. But make sure you're clear on what you're really doing and why. Don't waste resources celebrating something that other people don't really care about. Every word, every pixel, every square millimeter of paper that you spend proclaiming your anniversary is that much space not? used telling your donors... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
I was writing some fundraising advice. Basically, Write to your donors on their terms and in their language, not yours. In my example, I used the term, "Skid Road." Not "Skid Row." Because Skid Road is correct. The term originated in pioneer-era Seattle. It was a road on a steep slope that went from the thickly forested hills down to the waterfront. Logs were literally skidded down this road to a sawmill. In typical pioneer fashion, it was named Skid Road. (Now it's Yesler Way. The TrueSense Marketing Seattle office is on this street.) As the mill town grew into... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Why is fundraising so "ugly"? Personally, I find it hard to call activities that power so many of the world's good deeds ugly -- but I understand the question. Most effective fundraising has a clunky, out-dated, not-so-pretty look. Some people who come to our field without experience think it's because we're just kind of clumsy and don't know how to make it nicer-looking. That's not it, at least not most of the time. Here's a good explanation from Seth Godin, at Pretty websites: ...the worldview of people who are likely to sign up, 'like,' share, click, act and generally take... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Nonprofit employees who dislike fundraising usually dislike it for one main reason: It's depressing. It's all about need and problems. It shows things at the lowest point. It doesn't talk about the incredible impact we're having on the situation. It's that way for a reason, and that reason is: that's what gets most people to give. The Fundraising Fundamentals blog tackles this issue at Fundraising Myth Busters: Hope gets better results than need: Happy photos and stories communicate that the problem is already solved (and if the problem is solved, you don’t need your donors). Showing need is a critical... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Are you taking good care of your monthly donors? Check out this post at the Network for Good Nonprofit Marketing Blog: 4 Thank You Musts for Monthly Donors. In short: Be prompt. Be personal. Be genuine. Be specific. These are musts for any kind of donor thanking. And it's important, because you should know these things about most of your donors: They give to other organizations, so it's easy for them to forget about you. They care about their giving and seriously want to know they're making a difference. They're somewhat nervous that your organization might be a scam. Thanking... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Email fundraising is hard. Response rates are low. The rules keep changing. It's hard to know when you're successful. Here are some misconceptions that might be keeping you from doing your best work, from the Constant Contact blog, at 5 Email Marketing Misconceptions that Could Be Holding You Back: All email is spam (spam is in the inbox of the beholder) People don't like reading emails People can't unsubscribe (it's good when someone who doesn't want your material unsubscribes) You need special expertise or training (if you know fundraising, you're 90% of the way to knowing email fundraising) Email isn't... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Thinking about a massive overhaul of your website? Thank twice. It might not be a great idea, according to the KISSmetrics blog, at Don't Do A Redesign! Learn Why Evolution Beats Revolution. Consider incremental improvements instead. Here's why: Design alone can't work miracles. Most designers are not UX experts. (That cool new look could turn out to be a big step backward for those trying to use your website.) Revolutionary design overlooks your analytics. Epic overhauls take too long. Design by committee fails. Global updates are hard to roll back. Revolutionary design risks damaging SEO rankings. There are some cases... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Many organizations believe that their uniqueness is the main reason donors will choose them for their charitable giving. That's a revenue-crushing mistake. Successful fundraising starts where the donor is -- not in the organization's uniqueness -- and makes a clear, simple case. "I'm looking for an organization to support that's completely unique," said no donor, ever. Your uniqueness is important. But it can drag down your fundraising if you over-focus on it. 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. Or subscribe with... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
I took part in the coolest meeting this week. It was with the fundraising folks at an organization that's seeing declining fundraising results. The program used to work well for a long time, but a combination of rising costs and changing audience expectations have turned the once-effective strategy into a financial decline. But this wasn't a "woe-is-us" meeting. It was a "let's-fix-it" meeting. And that's what made the meeting energizing and just plain fun. Change is hard. Most organizations need at least some kind of change. And all organizations have political and psychological barriers to change. That's why many venerable... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Who's to blame for poor fundraising results? Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog is ready to introduce you to them: Meet the Scary People Who Are Frightening Your Donors Away! Look out: They're the most scary people possible. They're you. You're over-thinking, over-editing, nit-picking words, choosing photos for the wrong reasons and spending way too much time going over and over your newsletter, end of year report, fundraising letters, brochures, fliers, web copy and social media. Over-thinking and extreme nit-picking are real forces for evil in the fundraising world. I've seen those things torpedo good programs more times than I can begin... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a great interview with fundraising legend Jerold Panas, on the Bloomerang blog: Or see it here on YouTube. This is 17 minutes that is well worth your time! He mentions two of his 17 (!) books that you might be interested in: The Lost Manuscript Born to Raise: What Makes a Great Fundraiser; What Makes a Fundraiser Great Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
How often are you utterly surprised by the results of a direct-response test? If you test smart, it should happen fairly frequently. Here are some examples of those jaw-dropping who-woulda-guessed test results on websites from the KISSmetrics Marketing Blog: 8 A/B Split Tests That Made Shocking Discoveries. I want to call your attention to one of the tests reported in that post, the first one: 400% Conversion Boost by Removing Security Badge. The control was a page that included a prominent "security badge" that is meant to reassure visitors that their transaction will be secure. The test removed that badge.... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
It's surprisingly difficult to get people to open your emails. And when they don't open, they can't do any of the other things you hope they'll do. Here's some help from the Constant Contact blog, at 5 Simple Strategies to Improve Your Email Open Rates: Invest in your subject line. (If it isn't right, hardly anything else you do matters.) Fix your 'from name.' (Make it the right person; test to find out who that is.) Find the best time to send (and be consistent). Get to know your audience. (Communicate with them, not with your internal audiences.") Revisit your... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger Sean Triner, co-founder of Pareto Fundraising. If your organization raises funds related to disasters such as the horrific Nepal earthquake, you may also find that it is a strong source of new donors. The media coverage drives people to respond charitably, and if you are there, you can harness the outpouring of compassion. What do you do with these new donors? As Jeff noted, you can expect lower second-gift and retention rates from these donors. But there are several things you can do to improve the retention of these donors -- and thus get better long-term value... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Boomers now range in age from 51 to 69. They are pouring into the donor demographic, become more critical to fundraisers every day. What does that mean for us? The Engage:Boomers blog says it means we'd better start telling Boomers more stories if we want to motivate them to action: Do You Have A Story To Tell? Baby Boomers Want To Hear It. Here's why: As we age, we tend to experience an increase in right brain participation in our mental functions. The right brain is as different from the left brain in how it sees and makes sense of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to know how to improve your email fundraising? Here are ten suggestions from the Bloomerang blog, at 10 Steps To A Successful Fundraising Appeal Email: Subject line. Remember what it's for: To get people to open the email. Clean images with small file sizes. Personalized greeting. Use the recipient's name. Unless you know things are likely to go awry. Donor-centric tone. Make it about them, not you. Specific appeal. As them to do one specific thing. Suggest donation amounts. Communicate impact. Show them they can make a difference. Short -- get them to your website. Personalized signature. Style and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Yesterday's deadly earthquake in Nepal is a fundraising event for some organizations. Following are some comments on this disaster and disasters in general from a fundraising point of view. Let me warn you that there are capricious and unfair elements to disaster fundraising, just as with the disasters themselves. I don't like these things any more than you do, but I'll aim to share the real issues we face. The main unfortunate thing about disaster fundraising is that the most important driver of donations is the media coverage of the disaster: How deep and prominent the coverage is and how... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
How often we hear someone say: I will never use that fundraising technique because everyone does it! We see something again and again and think it's hackneyed, out-of-style, and ineffective. Actually, it's usually the other way: Those fundraising "techniques" you see again and again are the things that work. This special podcast for fundraising nerds only includes the cheapest way to get a powerful fundraising education. 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. Or subscribe with iTunes: Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Does a microscope look like a pistol when you turn it on its side? Ehh ... slightly, maybe. The more important question: Would this ad be any more effective if a microscope looked very much like a pistol when you turn it on its side. No. It wouldn't. Either way, it's a stupid nonprofit ad. It's for Sidaction, a French AIDS charity, but it looks like a portfolio-padder for the ad agency that created it: It's an oddly-dimensioned 4-color piece that has no evident intended placement, and the agency's logo is on the piece (very small, upper right corner). And... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Check out this slide show from Upworthy on how they get people to click on headlines and share the stories: (Or see it here on SlideShare.) You may not think your organization has much to do with the shamelessly sensationalistic Upworthy, but you're almost exactly in the same business as them: Getting people to care. The main takeaways: When it comes to virality, nobody knows how it works. Even the experts don't know. Every time you write a headline (or link), write 25 of them. That increases your chances of finding a good one. Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
How much does font-choice matter? Check out this study reported at Futurelab: The Wrong Font Can Kill You. Literally. Your Sales, Too. In a study of patients, when patients were given medical instructions in harder-to-read fonts, they perceived the instructions as difficult. The difficulty of the font made the information more difficult. They were less able to follow the instructions. Are you doing that in your fundraising? If you're using hard-to-read fonts, or other stupid design tricks like reversed-out type, type over color, type over images -- you're making your material "more difficult." Even if the writing is perfectly clear... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. One surefire way to grab donors is to include a great story about an individual. Just drop that story into your appeal, and you're good to go, right? Not exactly. Here's why. In a well-known study, participants were asked to give based on: A story about one starving child. Statistics about starving children A story about a starving child with statistics about starving children. The all-stats/no story version cratered. But so did the story plus the statistics. Even with a story, the focus in an appeal has to remain on... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to do better at your fundraising? Here are some hints from 101fundraising, at Five big reasons your fundraising results could be better: You're not speaking to the right people (Your audience isn't "everyone," no matter who you are. Find the niche you're in.) It's all about you (It's about donors. Bragging is not fundraising.) You're not showing an interest in them (Talk to donors about their values, their dreams, their wishes. Not yours.) You're assuming (They know less about your cause than you do.) Dumbing things down (Simple is good. Dumb isn't.) I have a "part b" to #1... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now
Let's take a look at two headlines: One "clever," the other intelligent. Clever headline This headline is for an ad that ran in publications in India after a deadly cyclone. It's from an Indian relief organization raising funds within India. Like so many clever headlines, it takes an indirect approach to its subject. It doesn't address the reader with the tragedy at hand and give her a good reason to respond. It addresses a side issue -- the low response to the cyclone. It also exhibits another common approach of clever headlines: the old "nobody cares about our cause" trope,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2015 at Future Fundraising Now