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Jeff Brooks
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You've probably heard (or said) something like this: My work in nonprofit would be so great if I didn't have to do fundraising! I can understand thinking this way. After all, you're in it because of the cause. Fundraising is just something you need to do to make the real work possible. But there's another way to think that might not only make fundraising bearable -- but even make you love fundraising as much as you love the cause. Because fundraising changes the world! Some of the ways it does that are described in a recent New York Times column... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
Fundcrushing: a form of fundraising that assumes donors will be moved to give if you throw enough large numbers at them. It doesn't work very well. Here's an example of fundrcrushing from Twitter: The fact that 780 million have no access to clean water is not a reason to get involved. It is a reason not to get involved. Your tiny contribution seems to mean almost nothing in the face of that staggering number. That's what makes it fundcrushing. Fundraising would show a problem the donor can solve. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a good laugh at npENGAGE: If Google were a nonprofit, what would its website look like? Actually, I don't think this is accurate. On the real nonprofit Google, the "Search" button would be much harder to find, and getting to the actual search page would require users to navigate through several pages with titles like Learn about our algorithm! Simplify! The most meaningful information you have to share should be at the forefront with options for next steps. Giving your visitor too many links, too many choices, or too much information divides their attention and detracts from the bare... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You're walking along a city sidewalk. Suddenly a panhandler is walking next to you, cajoling you for a handout. C'mon! Just a dollar! Just fifty cents! I need some food! You quickly conclude that the easiest way to get rid of him is not to confront him and send him away, but to dig some coins out of your pocket and give him a few. His tactic works, but it doesn't feel good. It's an unpleasant donor experience that retention. Are you afraid your fundraising is like that? Look out. The Agitator calls that Nonprofit Narcissism: Fundraisers who see themselves... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
From Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox newsletter, some interesting research on website readability: Break Grammar Rules on Websites for Clarity -- and Part Two. Some of these rules you should be breaking almost any time you're communicating with donors in any medium. A couple freak me out a bit. But consider them: Rule to break #1: Never use sentence fragments Rule to break #2: Spell out small numbers Rule to break #3: Paragraphs should contain 3–5 sentences Rule to break #4: Avoid Using the Word Very Rule to break #5: Use Exclamation Points Judiciously Rule to break #6: Avoid Using Chat Abbreviations... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
On almost any list of fundraising don'ts, you'll see something like this: Avoid jargon! It's fairly good advice. But not always. There are some excellent reasons for using the right kind of jargon. It can make you more persuasive and connect you more closely with your donors. If you do it right. Jargon is nothing other than specialized language. People talk and write in jargon because it's useful for expressing specialized concepts. More important, using jargon marks you as an insider. Those of us who work in direct mail fundraising throw around all kinds of jargon: Carrier envelope. Driver. Remit... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
From the Network for Good Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Top 6 donor communication mistakes to avoid: One and Done. Fundraising is a relationship. If you're just getting people to drop a few bucks on you and then walk away, you aren't going far. Me Me Me. Make your messages about the donor. Always. Bragging is not fundraising! Broken Record. Sometimes you ask. Sometimes you thank. Sometimes you ask big. Sometimes you ask easy. Being the same all the time makes progress difficult. Word Vomit. You don't need to tell your donors everything every time you talk to them. Be focused on... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving Want to know if this book is for you? Here's the book's complete table of contents, along with just a sample of what's in each chapter. PART I: The Money-Losing Nonprofit Brand How Branding Often Goes Wrong for Nonprofit Organizations Chapter 1. How and Why Commercial-Style Branding Can Torpedo Your Organization It doesn't matter how well-built your brand platform is if it's designed for people who aren't ready to climb up onto it with you. Chapter 2. Branding in the Real World When we fail to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
I came across this piece of direct mail recently: The fact that there are 9,500 homeless people in the community is not a reason to donate. It's more of a reason not to donate. The piece digs itself in even deeper on the back of the envelope: I love this technique of having information on the back of the envelope. But it's full of numbers! Doubled in size! 25% increase! 4x the impact! 200 families! 400 children! $26.55! It's mental spaghetti. Worse than that, as with the 9,500 homeless people on the front of the envelope, it's trying to stir... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
"Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That!" asks: Remember Vine? I do, just barely. When it suddenly got visible, a hot wave of anxiety washed across the nonprofit world: How do I make Vine work for my program? Consultants fanned the flames. Bloggers bloviated. For what? Guess what? It didn't matter at all if your business used Vine or not. And if Vine had turned out to be the next Pinterest, you would have had plenty of time to catch up -- there wasn't much advantage in being early. The Lesson: It's OK not to freak our about new social... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A weeks back, I posted some envelopes from Uncle Maynard's Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge that featured textures. A number of commenters noted the teaser on one of the envelopes, this one from CARE: Wait a minute, they asked. How exactly does that work? How can it possibly be sustainable? Good question. CARE is not the only organization using this tactic in direct mail fundraising. Quite a few large national fundraisers use this, and have been using it for several years. The fact that we see this we'll never ask again approach repeatedly and over time tells us one... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Prominent nonprofit Global Perception last week ended its long-standing ban on hiring left handed employees. According to unnamed sources, the organization's leadership felt that the change would not cause a stir, citing numerous opinion polls showing strong majorities of Americans supporting equal employment rights for left-handers. The move prompted a strong negative reaction from staunch right-handers, who saw the change as a betrayal of their values. Thousands of them cancelled their donations to the organization. "If they think they can turn their back on us just because their polling and research says it's safe, they've got another think coming," said... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's what early readers of The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving have to say about this new book... Tom Ahern: ... the richest explanation I've ever read of how to connect profitably with the hearts of donors. This is a 'desert island' book for fundraisers: if you could only take one, this would be the one to take. Roger Craver, The Agitator: ... an extraordinarily sensible guide for nonprofits intent on transforming their fundraising without torpedoing their future. Tom Harrison, Russ Reid: Every nonprofit executive should read this. It can save your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
From Copyblogger, 13 Damn Good Ideas from 13 Dead Copywriters. Here are some of them that apply well to fundraising: Show your product in use - Victor Schwab Open like a Reader's Digest article - John Caples Tap into one overwhelming desire - Eugene Schwartz Make the advertiser the character - Maxwell Sackheim Develop a Unique Selling Proposition - Rosser Reeves Find the inherent drama in your product - Leo Burnett Write to one person, not a million - Fairfax M. Cone Go after points of maximum anxiety - Mel Martin Everybody in the world divides his mail into two... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
TED Talks are great. Shorter, sharper, more focused than the presentations we're all so used to. They're even starting to affect those conference ppt snore-fests. What's the magic? It's basically just smart communication principles, applied to the formal presentation. The Veritus Group Blog found some TED guidelines for presenters and noted that they make a lot of sense for major donor fundraising: The TED Talk Contribution to Major Gifts. They can apply to fundraising at any level. Check it out: Present one great idea. Set a time limit. Collaborate. Put time into visuals. Practice. Stay away from notes. Avoid industry... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
In my experience, one of the things that often motivates a nonprofit to re-brand is a sense that "donors don't get us." So a brand is cooked up that will set those donors straight: Touché you ignorant persons! This is what we are about! Love us now! That's the kind of brand that is deeply in trouble from the start. It's going to cost you dearly to educate those donors. And you'll fail to educate them. That's because if you do that, you're flying in the face of the truth Roy Williams brings out in his Monday Morning Memo: Brands... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the easiest and most common ways to produce ineffective fundraising is to wander away from the topic -- to introduce distractions or even competing calls to action. An article in this month's FundRaising Success magazine by my TrueSense Marketing colleague George Crankovic can help you overcome this strong temptation: 3 Ways to Stay On-Message for Maximum Response: Develop a strong offer. Always keep the offer in front of you, write it out and keep it in front of you as you develop your appeal. Treat the offer as your touchstone. Read the article and follow these guidelines. Your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving by Jeff Brooks It's kind of embarrassing for a marketing professional to admit it, but branding scares me. Really. I realize that's kind of like a pilot saying he's scared of heights or a spelunker being afraid of the dark. But honestly, I've had so many terrible experiences with branding that I'd have to be a little bit crazy not to be afraid of it. Virtually every professional in fundraising who has worked with a variety of nonprofit organizations shares my fear of branding. We've all... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're looking for some kind of magic that will make your fundraising work amazingly well, I have good news for you: There is magic, and it's available to almost everyone. Too Busy To Fundraise points it the magic at Magic Bullets and the Myths of Fundraising: Identifying probable prospects Reaching out to them in a way that will resonate. Nurturing them and bringing them ever closer to the organization Asking them to support you -- clearly and appropriately Recognizing their generosity The real magic, the powerful force that moves you from where you are to a much better place... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
This should give everyone who thinks there's gold in the Facebook hills a moment of pause. (Or watch it here on YouTube. If you're on Facebook and you've been paying to get lots of likes, you could be killing your Facebook presence as a useful engagement tool. There are a lot of fake people on Facebook. And the more of them that like you, the fewer real people will ever even see you. If you're buying links, either "illegitimately," through 3rd-party like farms or "legitimately" by advertising through Facebook -- you are quite possibly causing your presence to fade. Be... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest by Denise Lee Yohn There are a lot of books about branding. The better ones take the high road and are quite inspiring about what a brand could be. A lot of the time, that sense of inspiration fades quickly when you ask, Yes, but what does it mean in practice? Here's a branding book that doesn't leave you hanging. What Great Brands Do is relentlessly practical about brands. It starts with the assumption that great brand make their brand their business, not something they... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
A funny thing is happening to Baby Boomers as they age: They're turning into their parents. They now range in age from 50 to 68. They are flooding into the ranks of donors and prospective donors. As they age, they're experiencing the same set of life stages and challenges that every generation in human history has faced. The Engage:Boomers blog points out what this means at I've Become My Father: Boomers don't have to reach 80 to start experiencing age-related changes in vision. Perception of contrast, colors and sharpness of detail affect the ease of reading. Hearing is not what... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Fundraising? Interesting? Well, you'd hope so. If your fundraising doesn't capture the interest of your donors, you're in trouble. Here are some ways to to be interesting, from Get Fully Funded, at 7 tips for keeping donors interested in your fundraising communications:" Connect with them more often. Provide more quality and less fluff. Give them a chance to provide feedback and be heard. Consider a variety of communication methods. Make it super easy to contact you. Show you are listening by including donor ideas and comments in your correspondence. One call-to-action per communication. I'll add one to that list that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Everyone knows that direct-response testing is the path to the truth in fundraising. There's just one problem: The large majority of nonprofit organizations cannot do direct-response testing. Their quantities are too small and/or they don't have the budget to pay for testing. Here are three ways to learn the right things to do when you can't test: Read books about fundraising. Read blogs about fundraising. (See our blogroll over there to the right for some of the best fundraising blogs.) Donate to larger national organizations so you can observe how they do it. To listen, click here to download the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a simple, helpful improve-your-writing tool on the web: Hemingway. It looks like this: Hemingway goes over the prose you paste into it and marks these things: It gives you the reading grade level and encourages you to keep it low. Sentences that are hard to read. They are long and complicated. Sentences that are very hard to read. They are longer and even more complicated. Adverbs. You almost always need fewer of them. (I wish they'd also mark adjectives for the same reason.) Words or phrases that can be simpler. You know, utilize when you could say use. Uses... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2014 at Future Fundraising Now