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Jeff Brooks
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When I'd been at my first fundraising job just over a year -- long enough for me to think I knew what was going on -- my organization brought in a consultant to do a television project. Our work was focused on helping the poor of Calcutta, India. When the script came to us, it was full of description of the poverty and squalor of Calcutta, including this phrase, in a description of what it was like to walk the city streets: ... you can't escape the tormenting stench of sewage and cooking food. I was appalled. I'd recently been... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
There are two fundamentally different approaches fundraisers can take to their donors: One stays in the background and empowers the donor to be the hero. The other stands in front and tells the donor to be a good side-kick -- keeping the hero label for himself. One of these raises a lot more money than the other. Do you know which? And do you know which of them you are? 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 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Hi! How are you? What's up with this weather lately? That's how a lot of normal conversations start. We do that because it's easy to talk about inconsequential things while we establish connection and gage the mood before we get to our real topics. Effective direct mail or email fundraising isn't like this. It doesn't dally around, but gets suddenly to the topic at hand -- which is your money is needed. It tells donors exactly what it wants them to do. This might make you uncomfortable, because it's unlike conversation. Maybe it feels bossy and aggressive. Or like you're... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Is there someone on your organization's staff (or board) who wants you to turn down the emotional content of your fundraising because they believe emotion is dishonest or manipulative? Do they tell you to "stick with the facts" because making the rational case with facts and numbers is the only honorable way to motivate people to donate? Apparently that person has never fallen in love, held a baby, or watched a sunset. Because those things -- and hundreds of other experiences like them -- teach us that emotional information is meaningful. In some ways, it's a lot more meaningful than... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
It seems Marketoonist has been listening in on nonprofit meeting rooms: See it at Social Marketing Hype. Social media marketing isn't magic. Like every other channel, it has strengths and weaknesses. Doing it right is hard work. And it takes time to grow. If you enter the field with all that in mind, you can make it worth the trouble. If you're expecting magic, you will be disappointed -- and you'll do it wrong! Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
I have terrible, awful, unbelievably horrible news. Did I get your attention? I think so. You could hardly help but take notice, because your brain is wired to pay more attention to negative information. If you've been in fundraising for a while, you already know that. It's also a finding in a study by the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London: UCL study: subliminal messaging more effective when negative. The study looked at people's ability to process words flashed on a screen too quickly for them to read consciously. Positive words (like cheerful, flower, peace) and neutral words... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
What are the words that motivate people to action? Here's a great post at The Daily Egg that will help you discover your motivating words: 62 Power Words That Will Help You Sell. I won't list all 62 here, but check out the categories of power words: Pain Points (Danger, Vulnerable, Warning) Urgency (Now, Limited, Last Chance) Exclusive Deal (Become an insider, Limited) Reassurance (Guarantee, Authentic, Proven) Clandestine Approaches (Secret, Confidential, Insider) Two Words Necessary in Any Approach: You and Because Pay close attention to this list! Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I recently came across this piece of wisdom: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. - Mark Twain Remembering this could save a lot of fundraising heartache. Double-check your beliefs about fundraising. Like "Direct mail is dead," or "We need to replace our old donors with Millennials ASAP!" They can be very, very wrong. And get you in a lot of trouble! Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The future is bright, according to Tom Ahern, posting at 101fundraising: I spy 5 fundraising trends in 2016: Growth-oriented nonprofits will "discover" donor-centricity. Facebook will continue to mature as a fundraising platform. There will be a new kind of fundraiser in town (i.e. more professionalized). Direct mail will not die ... again. Charity rating services will become obsolete (except in their own minds) Tom is optimistic. And right, I hope. But I can't help but add three more "realistic" predictions: The media (especially in the UK, but elsewhere too) will continue to run with ill-sourced, sloppily insinuating "exposés" about "wasteful"... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It's surprisingly easy to write confusing fundraising copy. Here are some must-avoids from Colludo, at Is Your Donor Communication as Confusing as a Bad Music Video? Have a point. And get to it. Start where the donor is, not where you want them to be. Strange metaphors, fluffy language and tacky gimmicks are a waste of time. Stop making yourself the centre of attention. Tell a good story. Let me add a few more tips for advanced non-confusers: Know exactly -- exactly -- what the call to action is, and aim directly and only at it. Repeat the important stuff.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's how to succeed in fundraising: Show up. Pay attention. Do the small stuff with care. Dramatic strokes of genius, sudden flashes of inspiration, amazing new shiny objects ... those are all nice. But consistency is what wins the day and brings home the bacon. That's not just me talking. It's in this great post at Too Busy To Fundraise: Consistency Beats Brilliance Every Single Time: ... the magic bullet of fundraising (and everything else): consistency. Doing things with regularity and constancy. Brilliance may be something we all desire, but the truth is, a boring plan done with consistency will... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to raise more money in the next three to 60 months? Thank your donors who just gave. Thank them often and well. It really does lead to more giving. Here are some pointers from Bloomerang to help you thank them: 6 Quick, Cheap and Easy Ways to Delight Your Donors. Do these things: Call donors who gave for the first time last year -- just to say thanks. Send an anniversary message to loyal donors. Send out a brief impact update by email. Make a quick thank you video. Share a short success story. Profile a staff member or... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
If you want to use a survey in your fundraising, the most important thing to know is this: Fundraising surveys are not research. A survey that's part of an effective fundraising message is lousy research. And a survey that's designed to get meaningful research would be lousy fundraising. Here's why: The purpose of a fundraising survey is to get people thinking about your issue and saying yes about it. So when you ask, it's easy for them to say yes one more time. That means you ask softball questions that have obvious yes answers. Real research studiously avoids leading questions,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're worried about getting young donors, you really need to read this post at Sean Triner's blog: Are Millennials Really Worth Targeting for Fundraising? It's a detailed post, packed with real-world analysis. The conclusion: There is no measure that I can find anywhere that tells a fundraiser that younger people are a priority over older donors. The reason: Young donors are not really worth what it costs to get them (in most cases). Older donors are: Easier (less expensive) to get in the first place. More responsive to your subsequent asks. Retain at a much higher rate. Are more... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. It's hard to find rhyme or reason to donors' response to our fundraising. But occasionally, there's an insight. And this is one of them -- moral licensing. Moral licensing says that when people do something good or altruistic, they're more likely to then do something that's less good -- or even bad. They feel that their good behavior today gives them license to slack off tomorrow. Think about it. You might tell yourself, "I went to the gym every day last week, so if I feel like doing nothing for... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Seth Godin asks (as usual) a great question: Who is us? Here it is, almost in its entirety: When you build a tribe or a movement, you're asking people to ... become "one of us." That means, though, you need to be really clear who "us" is. Not just who am I joining, but what does it mean to be one of you? One of the most common and destructive fundraising beliefs is that you're trying to reach the general public with your fundraising. That "everyone" could be your donor. A huge percentage of the population will never give to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
You're not likely to get an Ice Bucket Challenge type of miracle to cause millions to pour into your organization. But huge improvements to your fundraising are well within your reach. Read about it in this great post on the Veritus Group blog: The Three Legs of the Non-Profit Stool/ It contains four common dysfunctions that kill fundraising: Finance calls the shots without regard for fundraising. No one leads or decides. ("management by consensus," which never works) Program folks to rule. (Not too bad an idea if the program people are donor-centered. Some are, but many aren't.) A self-appointed "editor"... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the best ways to keep donors is to sign them on as monthly donors. When you do that, their yearly retention rate typically goes up above 90% -- that's two or three times retention rate of typical donors. Here's some help from the Virtuous Blog on moving donors into monthly giving, at Why Donors Lapse and How You Can Stop It. Some of the best times to ask people to give monthly are: In January/February. After a first-time donation. After an email sign up. That's the when. Here's a how: I've learned that there are two basic kinds... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the first things I learned about fundraising at my first fundraising job was this: Avoid pastel colors. My boss, the executive director of the small nonprofit I worked for, told me on my first day. He'd heard it from some fundraising guru. If the advice sounds odd, the reasoning behind it is even odder: Every woman has a particular pastel color that she hates. So no matter what pastel color you use, you're alienating some of your donors. It could be true, but I doubt it. First, every woman hates a particular pastel color sounds a lot more... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Will this be the year your organization finally represents itself in public as the dignified, professional, in-control people you strive to be? If so, this will be the year your fundraising death-spiral starts. I'm not making that up. Your professional dignity and your fundraising are almost completely at odds. You can have one or the other. Not both. As the Agents of Good blog says, at The 2016 forecast: PLEASE stop being so damn worried about how professional your look, sound, act, talk, move, etc -- you seem more robotic and less human all the time -- and who wants... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Usually, you can count on Kiva to do solid, effective fundraising. That's why this example that recently landed in my in-box is disappointing: This email from Kiva is classic Me-First Fundraising. It's a common form of fundraising that's based on the premise that if you talk about your organization enough, donors will be impressed and give. Since it's a short message, let's look at each sentence: Your donation makes Lovince's loan possible. This is fundraising -- or it would be if some meat were on the bones of this thought. There isn't, because the rest of the message is about... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Flat, unemotional fundraising messages don't work. Yet we see them all the time. Why? Here are some thoughts on this from PhilanTopic, at Is Lack of Emotion Hurting Your Fundraising? Here are some common mistakes that drain emotion from messages: Mistakenly assume that every person is an expert. Ignore the emotional appeal of their brand. Put too much emphasis on the "investment." Tries to sell an idea instead of impact. Here are some others that I often encounter: You think you can instruct people into caring. You think emotion is somehow dishonestly manipulative. Your primary goal is to feel good... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Like everyone who benefits from Wikipedia, you probably saw the recent Wikipedia fundraiser. You probably should have donated. But most likely you didn't. And that's partly Wikipedia's fault. The Neuromarketing shows us why at The Big Mistake Most Non-Profits Make. Let's take a look at the two serious errors the Wikipedia campaign made. Because a lot of other fundraisers make these very same mistakes. Here's some messaging from Wikipedia: The two errors, according to Neuromarketing, are negative social proof and low-dollar anchoring. Negative social proof When I see "tiny percent" in this context, [it] lets me breathe a sigh of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are your simple instructions for a direct-mail fundraising letter that will raise buckets of money for your nonprofit organization: Make a list of everything that's cool and praise-worthy about your organization. Throw that list in the trash. Write down everything that's cool and praise-worthy about your donors. Figure out exactly what you want your donors to do. Figure out why they would want to do it (given the ways in which they're cool) and write it down. (This piece of writing, by the way, is probably the P.S. of your letter.) Repeat steps 4 and 5 a whole bunch... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
The nonprofit sector has a press problem. It's especially bad in the UK, but it's also in the US and other places. Here's a recent example, from the Telegraph, at The charity chiefs paid more than £100,000 a year. The scandal these enterprising journalists uncovered? More than 1,000 charity executives [in the UK] are paid more than £100,000 a year, despite efforts to curb pay levels in the voluntary sector... £100,000 is about $150,000. Nothing to write home about in the world of executive pay. Yet this article talks as if salaries of that amount are clearly and obviously a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now