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Jeff Brooks
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File this under so that's why it is the way it is. It's widely noted that there's a strong inverse correlation between donor age and their average gift: The older the donors, the lower the average gift. The Analytical Ones reports a study that throws interesting light on this phenomenon at Granny's $5 birthday surprise won't cut it any longer. Donors were asked, "What is the minimum gift you could make to an organization and actually make a difference?" Here are their answers, by age group: 70+: $35 55-70: $68 under 55: $171 That the numbers fall that way isn't... Continue reading
Posted 13 hours ago at Future Fundraising Now
There was a discussion on Twitter the other day about the word partner, used as a verb. As in, "Will you partner with us on this important project?" Lisa Sargent was advising against it. I think any real writer (like Lisa) has a flinch reaction to partner as a verb, because it's abstract and jargony. But someone else in the conversation noted that he uses it all the time in fundraising, and is doing just fine, thank you. Which viewpoint is correct? Is partner-as-verb terrible for fundraising -- or harmless, maybe even good? I've never tested it. But I've tested... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Here it is: The worst fundraising mistake is confusing yourself with your donors. This is the error behind nearly all crappy and unsuccessful fundraising. When you think your donor is you, you'll spend all your energy marketing to yourself. Which can be fun, but doesn't work. Remember that your donor is different from you. She knows less (or rather, she knows different things). She's probably quite a bit older than you. She's paying less attention than you are. When you ignore those differences, you will miss the mark. The good fundraisers spend a lot of energy getting into the hearts... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. In an interesting post, To PS? Or not to PS?, fundraising expert Tom Ahern raised the topic of the P.S. in fundraising letters. He points out that the P.S. in most fundraising appeals simply reiterates the ask, but that Mal Warwick thinks this is a mistake. Mal says to use this space to add some additional information instead of just restating the offer. Question is, why do fundraising letters have a P.S. that just repeats the offer? This is something you wouldn't do in... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
We don't have any dramatic stories to tell! How can we tell great stories? We don't work with babies or puppies! We have no way to be emotional. Have you heard or said things like this? It's flat-out wrong. If you have no drama or emotion to share with donors, it's because you're making one (or both) of these mistakes: 1. You're looking at processes, not outcomes Let's say your organization works to advocate for low-income housing in your community. What you do: Make phone calls. Write emails. Publish studies. Attend meetings. Nope: No drama! But that stuff is the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Two basic truths every fundraiser should keep in mind all the time: We are talking almost entirely to older people. Emotion is what persuades people to give, not facts. And these two truths are tightly intertwined. Here's how, from Engage:Boomers, at What We've Learned About Marketing To Baby Boomers: As we approach midlife (40+), we increasingly draw on right brain functions. That's right: as we age, the way we use our brains changes. This is one of the things that makes fundraising hard: Many fundraisers are younger -- still in the left-brain phase of life. If you're that age, the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
The donor is the hero. Persuade with story, not statistics. Those are almost the only two things you need to know to be a great fundraiser. So I was surprised to see a blog about commercial marketing saying pretty much just that. About selling stuff, not about fundraising. The post, How to Make Story Your Core Message, at Duct Tape Marketing, makes good marketing sound a lot like good fundraising. Starting with calling your customers heroes: Learn the hero's backstory. (Understand who your donors and where they're coming from. Be relevant to their experience.) Give them an antagonist. (Make it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
How big a deal is online charitable giving? Depends on how you look at it. The recently released Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report tells us that online giving increased 7.9% in 2016 over 2015. That's not as fast as in previous years, but it's still meaningful. Especially when you consider that overall giving grew about 1% over the same period. People are shifting some giving from traditional sources to online. That means no fundraiser can afford to ignore or under-use the online medium. Donors are there! On the other hand, online donations made up about 7.2% of all giving in 2016.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
If you want to see depressing displays of fakiness, check out corporate Twitter feeds. Very few of them can make themselves seem authentic and human. Sadly, the same is true of many (probably most) nonprofit Twitter feeds. It's as if they're trying to sound like a parody of a poorly programmed robot. The Nerdy Nonprofit has some ideas for changing that -- not just on Twitter, but in general -- at Get personal: How to make your nonprofit branding feel more authentic: Know your audience. (Branding falls flat when it's aimed at the wrong audience -- typically at organization insiders.)... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
When you read those Nigerian scam emails, do you find yourself wondering how stupid the scammers must be? The ridiculous, not-credible stories, the insanely huge promised pay-off, the crazy spelling and syntax ... and why do they admit they're in Nigeria? Doesn't the word Nigeria pretty much mean "scam" to most people these days? Turns out the scammers aren't stupid at all. All those things that make us roll our eyes are brilliant tactics with a clear strategy: to find their right audience. And, according to The Management Centre blog, there's are Three things you can learn from email scammers.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Any time you're not sure what the right path to take might be for your nonprofit organization, take this advice from the Passionate Giving blog: Always Ask: "Where's the Donor?" It can transform your organization: If, in any and every situation you face in your organization, you ask yourself and others where the donor is in the situation at hand, you will (over time) become more culturally philanthropic. This will happen because you, and everyone else who heard you utter the words, will start to put your donors in their proper place within the process, the conversation, the copy, the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Stop me if you've heard (or had) this little insight: Our donors give 2.4 times a year. So we should only send three appeals a year. If you don't think very hard, it sounds sensible. I mean, why send 5, 10, or 20 appeals when you're going to get less than three responses? Aren't all those extra requests just a waste of money? Beside the error of confusing the average with "what everybody does," there's the issue of real life: There's fascinating evidence that for many donors it takes more than one ask to motivate one gift. Let that sink... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraisers are in the happiness business. At least those who are succeeding are. Here are some ways to raise more money by making your donors happy, from Claire Axelrad, writing at Nonprofit Pro: 7 Strategies to Create Happier, More Generous Donors. The seven strategies: Help -- don't sell. (Know what's in it for the donor -- and tell them.) Wrap rewards for giving into your appeal. (Be relevant to your donor's experiences.) Help your donor feel empathy. (Show them the problems you want them to help solve.) Help your donor achieve meaning in their life. (Make it clear how the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a possible nonprofit trend that might make a lot of sense: Nonprofits may revive their long-ago brands. This from queer ideas, at Heritage branding. A great opportunity for charities. For years, many nonprofit branding initiatives have moved toward abstraction, hiding their original mission behind high concepts, often changing their names so they communicate nothing specific, or choose to go by their initials rather than a name. Many have also chased faddish looks (which become extremely dated-looking after just a few years. And they wonder why results are down. Going back to your roots could make a lot of sense:... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Houses of worship are a powerhouse of the fundraising world. But even they face new challenges in getting their people to donate. We take a practical and realistic look at the challenges churches face and what they can do to motivate their people to give generously. 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. Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You may think your main goal with donors is to motivate them to give them money. That's only partly right. There's something more important -- and more difficult-- that you need first. Michael Rosen says, the most important, valuable thing a prospect or donor can give you is their trust. (What is the Most Important Thing a Donor Can Give You? It's Not What You Think It is). You know your organization is trustworthy, so you may think that's an unimportant step. But from a donor's point of view trust is the main issue. A long, sad history of charity... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
If you write fundraising copy, you're probably used to people who review what you've written hating it. Goes with the territory. But when they give their reasons for hating the copy, a funny thing often happens: They are absolutely right in their assessment of its qualities -- but completely wrong that those qualities are a bad thing. Here are some common complaints, along with some reasons those complaints name a good quality for fundraising copy: It's simplistic. Yes! Simplifying complex ideas is a sign of a professional at work. If your copy is complex, it's not very good. It's repetitive.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Telling stories that move donors to action is not easy. In fact, a lot of otherwise good stories get torpedoed by simple errors, such as these pointed out by John Haydon at 5 Biggest Nonprofit Storytelling Mistakes to Avoid: Bragging about your nonprofit. (If your story is just a vehicle for bragging about your awesomeness, it's really not a story at all.) No protagonist. (The stories that move people the most are about one person and their struggle.) No problem. (Struggle, problem, conflict. It's not a story without. No payoff. (A real story goes somewhere.) Jargon. (It's easy to use... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Let me tell you about the most spectacular direct mail fundraising failure I've ever been associated with. I think you'll enjoy it (because schadenfreude), but you'll also learn a thing or two. I'll try to tell it in a way that will disguise the identity of various guilty and innocent parties... Once upon a time, a client of mine -- an international relief organization -- hired a Brilliant Consultant who owned some kind of secret sauce that was going to transform their fundraising program. This was long enough ago that this amazing solution had nothing to do with the Internet.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter. Guilt-tripping. Emotional blackmail. Poverty porn. These are the phrases you see when the debate turns to the topic of emotion in fundraising. It's almost as if using emotion is somehow bad or unethical. A recent article on SOFII -- The positives and negatives of emotional fundraising -- takes this up. One of the conclusions is that negative emotions like guilt can highlight a problem, but positive emotions like hope and benevolence will create more behavioral change. Now, we've all seen the "shock" ads that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's an often-overlooked truth from Engage:Boomers, at What We've Learned About Marketing To Baby Boomers: "We use different brain sites and mental processes in answering researchers' hypothetical questions than they use in real life situations." That is, the information people give when answering survey questions is not a good indicator of reality. Answering research questions and living life are to completely different activities that are processed by different parts of the mind. Remember that next time someone says a new survey or focus group has revealed a startling new truth about charitable giving. It probably doesn't tell you anything useful.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
There are a lot of specific things you can do to improve donor retention. The most important is do great fundraising. That will do the most. But there's more, including 4 Donor Retention Strategies You Haven't Thought Of, from Get Fully Funded: Give donors choices. (Everything from how much they give to how you'll communicate with them.) Let donors pay in their own way. (Check, credit card, even PayPal.) Show donors their impact. (Donor-focused newsletters is the place to start!) Build your nonprofit's brand. (That is, make their dealings with you good and memorable experiences.) To these, I'll add a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're under 60, you don't get it. There are reasons our donor files are dominated by the elderly: For one, accumulating years bring wisdom, and wisdom tells you that giving stuff away is one of the better things you can do. Even more, changes in brain chemistry that come with age push older people toward being more empathetic and other-focused. Both prime qualities for generosity. Unfortunately, a lot of us just don't "get" these people. We just see their unstylishness, their tendency to do things slowly, the odd habits they bring from a past we don't share with them.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
Most fundraisers know that telling stories is the way to reach donors' hearts and minds and motivate them to give. But what's the right story to tell? It's the donor's story. The story she'll tell after she gives. This podcast takes a look at what we fundraisers can do to give each donor a story to tell. That's the foundation to lasting relationships with donors who love to give to you! 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. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now
You aren't asking the donor to do something specific and concrete. Your message doesn't repeat the call to action a few times. Your message talks only about your organization, not about the donor -- her values, her aspirations. Your message is trying to educate the donor until she understands well enough to donate. Your message is rational, and not emotional. Your message includes more than one very large number. Photos in your message (if any) don't tell the same story as the words. Your message has been approved by a committee of more than five people. Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2017 at Future Fundraising Now