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Jeff Brooks
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Here's a report of an excellent head-to-head test, reported at npENGAGE: Is Your Online Donation Form Turning Off Donors?. It was on an online donation form. The control: The test: Nothing else was different. The high-to-low test pulled 15.7% decrease in gifts and a 11.3% decrease in average gift, for a total 25.2% drop in revenue. The difference was statistically significant. That should get our attention. I hesitate to say high-to-low ask arrays are an automatic no-no in online fundraising. But with results that definitive, I wouldn't do it except in a test to my own file. And it's not... Continue reading
Posted 15 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
Let me introduce you to a very useful term: Wat/San. In the international relief and development sector, it means "water and sanitation programs." It's useful because water and sanitation programs are common and various. Having a short way of referring to them speeds up and smooths out a lot of communications. A few years ago, I visited projects in northern Uganda on behalf of a nonprofit. One day, I was told we were going to "visit Wat/San." "Who's Watson?" I asked, labelling myself as the newbie. At the project site, we were treated to a song and dance performance about... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
From Mark Phillips of Bluefrog, a mind-bendingly powerful reminder of what what's really happening in fundraising: She is not one of your donors. You are one of her charities. That's all you really need to know about fundraising. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's what really chokes off a lot of promising fundraising programs: The need to bring in net-positive cash right now. These folks need to read The Agitator, especially this post: What Your Board Should Learn from Starbucks. It shows how a little business thinking can clear up the "net now" misconception: Starbucks spends $1,400 to acquire a customer who starts off by spending $4.25 for a Caramel Frappacino. If a nonprofit reported numbers like that, you can almost hear the bellowing board member with a calculator: That's a cost to raise of dollar of $329! What's wrong with you people?... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Awhile back, my daughter (a college student), sent a short thank-you note to my godmother (a lady in her 70s). Within minutes of receiving it, my godmother called me. She gushed and gushed at the wonder of it. She told me, among other things, that it "brought sunshine into my home." (She talks that way.) She had considerably more to say about the note than the note itself said. When I get a note from somebody, I look at it, think to myself, Well, isn't that nice, and move on to other things. Not that big a deal. I imagine... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You probably saw something about the study recently that says two spaces after a period is more readable than one. Here's a report on the study in The Atlantic, at The Scientific Case for Two Spaces After a Period. Money quote: ... there was an increase in reading speed of 3% when reading text with two spaces following periods, as compared to one. This is ... an average of nine additional words per minute above their performance under the one-space conditions. I think all of us old-line two-spacers pumped our fists in the air in a celebration of victory ...... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I have some news for nonprofit executive directors (or anyone else who signs fundraising messages) that you may take as very good ... or very bad. Your "voice" does almost nothing to help your fundraising. In fact, your "voice" -- if you insist on close fidelity to it -- is probably costing your organization a lot of lost fundraising revenue. If you're scratching your head and wondering what I'm talking about and why, that's okay. Most EDs -- like most people -- are not much concerned about or aware of their "voice." Voice is something writers are very aware of.... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I think it was 2005. There was a big AFP conference at the Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The Domain Group, where I worked at the time, had just moved into offices in the Convention Center. So we sort of acted as if we were hosting the event. (Mal Warwick stopped by for a visit, and we all swooned.) I was attending as many sessions as I could between deadlines. One session that caught my attention was some guy making amazing claims about newsletters. He said they could raise funds and improve donor retention. This was exactly what we at... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I never blog on weekends. It just seems, well, wrong. But something happened that's worth sharing. On Thursday (Friday some places), Tom Ahern gave his first Moceanic webinar. It was called “Mommy, why do donor newsletters exist?” -- Explaining this money-making workhorse to your doubting boss. It was awe-inspiring, stupendous, phenomenal. I could go to the thesaurus to really zero in on the downright peachy keen-ness of it, but you get the point. If you've heard or read Tom Ahern, you can imagine. But he took it to new places this time. Tom knocked it out of the park. The... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Thanks, Tom. That's helpful and enlightening. It's easy to say about that, "What idiot thought up that idea?" It's more helpful to credit them for trying something different, learning from it, and moving on. I suppose a more likely to succeed approach for public radio would be to really amp up the difference sound during pledge breaks: Play country music, staff up with obnoxious shock-jocks, air long strings of poorly-produced spots for weird products...
Here's a useful acronym for fundraisers: NCBY. Nobody Cares But You. It comes from The Digital Drip, at Fiscal Year-End: Your Donors Don't Want to Hear it. Here are some NCBY topics from the post. These things will not motivate very many donors: Detailed descriptions of your process "Insider" language and jargon A newsletter photo of a bunch of people holding an oversized check A list of donors in your annual report Your director of development's new baby announcement All the amazing things your organization has achieved because you are so amazing Your organizational history It's our XXth anniversary! A... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I was talking to the manager of a radio station about a fundraising special he'd aired. "It got no response," he said. "So we re-made it and it worked great." I asked him what was wrong with the original program. "Nobody called in." Why didn't they call in? Bad production? "No, the production values were just fine." So what was wrong? He made a goofy, unctuous expression; his voice dropped down about an octave, and he said with way too much expression, Would you find it in your heart to give a special gift? The F and the T in... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
"I'll know it when I see it." If you're a professional writer and hear that, your blood runs cold. Because it really means, "I don't have time to think about it, and I have no respect for your time." Put on a blindfold and start throwing darts. We'll eventually hit the middle of the dartboard! Except you probably won't hit the bullseye. Ever. You might never get close to the dartboard at all. And it's not just blindly throwing darts. Each "throw" -- assuming it's a serious attempt at effective, readable, persuasive writing -- is a meaningful use of time,... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Interesting landing page test reported at Unbounce: See How Dynamic Text on a Landing Page Helped Increase Conversions by 31.4%. Dynamic text means this: When someone comes to your landing page via a search, you can use some of the same words they used as action phrases on your page. And it works better. Here's the example: A company that helps people make marketing emails was offering a trial of their service. They had good SEO, so if someone searched for that kind of service, they likely ended up high in the results. But here's the interesting part: If someone... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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If you're a fundraiser, and you don't give to charities yourself, you are only half a fundraiser. You'll never be fully effective. You may be blessed with intelligence, imagination, and insight -- but a fundraiser who isn't a donor is no better than a parrot, or a machine. Charitable giving is an act of the heart. And the heart, as Pascal noted, has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. If your heart is inexperienced in the act of giving, the entire enterprise of fundraising and giving will be opaque to you. Donors live in the Garden; you inhabit a... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
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We asked two new fundraising (and very successful) writers who have been doing some very great work what they know about fundraising that's making them succeed. Here's what they told us: Write as one person connecting with one person. Avoid the word "we" -- unless it very clearly means you the reader and I the writer. Start your first draft with this phrase: I'm writing to you today because... Use the word you a lot. Articulate the fundraising offer early and often. Tell a story of need, not success. Ask clearly for money. (Don't hint around!) Write at a 6th... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Like just about everyone else in our industry, I stood up and cheered when I saw Dan Pallotta's TED Talk The way we think about charity is dead wrong. I've watched again and again as effective organizations capped the amount of good they could do by under-spending on fundraising and other forms of investment. It's like watching a trained sprinter put on cement shoes before every race. They do that because watchdogs, boards, and many others sustain a belief that spending on "overhead" is bad, wasteful, and undesirable. It's a crime, really. The question is, what should we as fundraisers... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
You know you should be producing a donor newsletter. But you feel intimidated by the task: What are we going to put in it? Here are some great ideas from the Storytelling Nonprofit blog, at 10 improved content ideas for your non-profit newsletter: Comment on a news cycle story that relates to your work Share an impact story (in my book, this is what most of a newsletter should be) Interview a donor Do a Q&A with a local influencer who cares about your work Share curated resources Find a pop culture tie in Share a recent media hit Re-share... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
You know you want monthly donors. How about low-dollar monthly donors? Like $5 a month? You've probably heard the argument that it's not worthwhile because the credit card fees eat too much of the donation. If you think that, read this post from A Direct Solution, at 10 Reasons Why Small Monthly Donors Are Worth the Effort: You're truly showing donor care. No gift is too small. You can upgrade small monthly donors to higher levels within the year. Even small monthly donors can leave you in their will. Recruitment fees for monthly donor fees are minimal. The finance fees... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
The Monday Morning Memo is an always great source of practical inspiration for direct marketing. Here's one you should read: Direct-Response Ad Writing: How to Do It Right. What makes a message fail? The ad is not remarkable. People aren't talking about it. The ad is not credible. In other words, it's hype. The message isn't urgent. There is no need to take immediate action. He's talking specifically about direct-response radio ads. But it applies to fundraising almost exactly. Your fundraising fails because: Your fundraising isn't specific and exciting. You're expecting donor to "support us" or buy in to your... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
When was the last time someone told you Direct mail is dead? In some parts of the fundraising world, that is just taken as an unquestioned truth. It's not. And believing it is can deeply hamper your fundraising. Check out these important facts from The Agitator, at Direct Mail is not Yet Dead: Mail is where more donations come in. (Online giving is growing quickly. But mail is many times bigger, and will be for years to come.) Mail retains donors (slightly) better. (31% of first-time offline donors will retain, while 25% of new online donors will.) Ending mail acquisition... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
I'm breaking one of my own rules: I'm going to talk about an anniversary that's about me. Not you. You have no reason to care about my anniversary, which makes it a poor topic for me to bring up. Please forgive the lapse. And I'm going to do my best to make it matter for you... Almost exactly a year ago, I did something a little bit crazy. I quit my job. A job I thoroughly enjoyed. And joined Moceanic. A start-up. Based in Australia. (Where, disconcertingly, it's always tomorrow.) With a couple of merry adventurers with a wild itch... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you sometimes wonder why your donors don't get it? You try and try to show them how important and transformative your cause is -- but response is low, donors are lapsing away, and you can't seem to find the growth you need ... Why don't they get it? What can you do to make them see? Maybe it's you who doesn't get it. Maybe you've been speaking to yourself and not to them. Maybe you're trying to persuade yourself, not them. Fundraising is not about showing your greatness and hoping they'll agree and climb aboard your bandwagon. It's about... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Personally, I think working in fundraising is a pretty sweet life. Better than the other careers I've explored. If you're not getting the most personal fulfillment out of fundraising, here are some things that might help: 1. Respect your craft If you're embarrassed to ask for money ... if you think direct mail is tacky and awful ... if you think fundraising is a necessary evil that besmirches your reputation and annoys donors ... well, you aren't going to be happy in fundraising. Get right with the profession. That's the only way to do great work, and it's the best... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now
Planned giving is one of the pillars of success in a strong fundraising program. It takes work and patience to make it happen though. Here's some additional help from Michael Rosen Says, at 5 Things You Might Not Know about Planned Giving: Almost everyone has the ability to make a planned gift. (Not just wealthy people!) The average age of someone who makes their first charitable bequest commitment is 40-50. High-income women are more likely than men to use complex gift planning tools. (Such as donor-advised funds or charitable remainder trusts) Using a challenge grant for a planned gift appeal... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2018 at Future Fundraising Now