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Jeff Brooks
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Civil Society Fundraising Blog reports on a UK study that found something that won't surprise experienced fundraisers: Victim blaming: why donors care less about wars than earthquakes. That's right: When it comes to humanitarian disasters, donors are much more likely to give when the disaster is natural than when it's manmade. Last year's quake in Nepal, the 2010 Haiti quake, and other earthquakes, typhoons -- those open the hearts and wallets of huge numbers of donors (and nondonors). The current crisis in Syria -- equally horrific in terms of human suffering ... not so much. Many donors are cynical about... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You've heard that one before: The fundraising project failed because our donors hated it. No they didn't. It failed because you didn't make them care. Failed fundraising is nearly always bland, flat, confusing, irrelevant. Designed specifically to avoid being hated. If donors had hated it, you'd have got more response. When people hate something, they are more likely to respond. It's when they don't care that you get little response. Any experienced fundraiser will tell you: The most successful campaigns are also the ones that generate the most complaints. If you are able to create something that people hate, congratulations!... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Here's some high-level wisdom from Roy H. Williams' Monday Morning Memo. It's not specifically about fundraising, but all ten of these are issues to us as much as they are to commercial marketing: The 10 Most Common Mistakes in Marketing. They are: Inappropriate Use of Social Media (those boring, self-focused brags are getting you nowhere!) Overconfidence in the Value of Targeting (targeting is good, but it's not everything) The Assumption that Every Message is Relevant Fear of Criticism (your best work will always generate complaints and even anger) Measuring Ad Effectiveness Too Quickly (some media need time and repetition to... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
A disturbingly high percentage of would-be donors who arrive on a giving page leave without giving. Why do they do that? One possibility is the page doesn't do a good job of keeping them on task, unconfused, and still happy about giving. Here are some things you can do to improve the performance of your giving pages, from the Techsoup blog, at 10 Ways to Improve Your Donation Page and Raise More Money: Start with a Strong Headline Display Powerful Images Clear Away Navigation Items at Top and Bottom Offer Multiple Giving Options (one-time, monthly, gifts in honor, and gifts... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Are you getting played? A lot of fundraising professionals are. It's usually consultants or salespeople offering something that's going to make everything easy for you. It's often technology. Sometimes it's branding catnip from the commercial world. How can you tell then you're being played? Listen to Seth Godin: Chump (Don't get played). Seth's example is Bernie Madoff, but he's clearly also talking about Trump. But mostly, he's talking about the "chumps" who get played: For lots of reasons, people are open to looking for shortcuts and a new reality, even if no shortcuts are available.... Frustration in the face of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you have a big event that raises a lot of money but silently wipes out your revenue? It's quite possible. The Veritus Group Blog points out the potential problem at Those Awful Events: In most cases, [a fundraising event] sucks energy, resources, time and talent away from really investing in a major gift program that establishes relationships with donors.... [F]or all that time and money you spend on events, the net revenue will come nowhere near what you could achieve by running a robust major gift program. The ROI of an effective major gift person can be extraordinarily high.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Check out this recent tweet by a Ronald McDonald House: If you think about this fact about families facing an illness, that's sad and terrible. But it's not a reason to support RMHC. This piece of fact is much more of a reason not to support RMHC. Because it paints the problem as very big -- which it is, of course. Except donors are rarely drawn to support very big problems. One of the main reasons non-donors cite for not giving is that they won't make a difference. They see the problem (whatever it is) as so huge that their... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It's hard to get someone to make a donation. It's even harder -- and more important -- to get them to give two gifts. It's all in the follow-up. Get Fully Funded has some help, at 4 Keys to Keeping Happy Donors and Repeat Gifts: They want to be thanked and appreciated. They want to feel good about their giving experience. They want to know how you used their money. They want to trust your nonprofit. If you satisfy these needs for your donors, you will see retention rates go up. A lot of people -- a painfully high portion... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
A lot of marketers see Millennial customers as a sort of gold rush. Last year, they reportedly spent 500% more on advertising targeted at Millennials than all other age groups combined. Do I detect some herd mentality? Millennials are better customers for certain things than others: Outdoor gear. Music. Electronics. But big picture? Not so much, as noted by Engage:Boomers, at Have We Overrated The Millennial Consumer? Rather than being left behind by the onslaught of technology, middle aged and even senior consumers are adapting quite well to e-commerce, and marketers need not be so hasty to overlook them. Baby... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. Ever since the Obama campaign's famous one-word subject line -- "Hey" -- from 2012, it's practically a tradition for fundraisers to learn from political emails. Take the email strategy from Hillary Clinton's campaign. Like all campaigns, they test and use a variety of email subject lines, and according to an NPR report, Why Political Fundraising Emails Work, there are a handful of subject-line themes that are working well for Team Hillary. When you're trolling for a subject line for your email, it might be helpful to see how you can... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here, apparently, is the most repulsive color in the world: According to a recent post at Creative Market -- Research has Determined The Ugliest Color in the World... This color, along with many others, was shown to more than 1,000 smokers to determine which hue turned them off the most. [T]he info was passed on to the Australian government, where they will now include the color -- along with standard safety warnings -- on every package of cigarettes sold. And this idea is gaining some traction, with other countries across the world adopting similar methods. What does this mean for... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Are you confusing your donors with a bureaucratic category that makes no sense and doesn't matter to them? You might be if you're raising funds under the flag of the foundation that's the fundraising arm of your main organization. There are plenty of reasons to organize yourself this way. But none of them are important to donors. If you're communicating in a way that forces them to understand that your foundation is in fact a separately run organization, you are keeping the confusion alive. Say you're with an organization called "Feed the Penguins." Your logo might look like this: So... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Every once in a while, a fundraising blogger or columnist will go on a rant against best practices. The gist: Best practices suck because they keep you from innovating. I almost agree. But when best practices keep you from innovating, it's probably because the things you're calling "best practices" are actually comfortable practices or maybe easy practices. Or good for a vendor's business practices. Plenty of organizations have that exact problem: So-called "best practices" are keeping them from adjusting to new fundraising realities or even replacing old controls that have lost their power. Those organizations are hurting. And they can't... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Every donor file I've ever looked at has Millennials in it. Not a lot of them -- usually 5% to 10% of all the donors. They've been on the file whether the organization was trying to get Millennials or not (and most were not trying). How did they get there? By not acting like Millennials. By being donors. A lot of discussion about getting Millennial donors assumes you have to do fundraising in a completely different way from the ways that work with older donors. Direct mail, the most effective and scalable way to find and cultivate older donors, is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It's easier to say yes if you've recently said yes. It's harder to say yes if you've just said no. Successful fundraising builds a momentum of yes. It starts with easy yeses and works its way toward, "Yes, I'll give!" This is often what's behind survey fundraising. They tend to lob softball questions that are easy to answer with a yes. It's not useful research, but it can be good fundraising. Do you want good to prevail over evil? Yes! It's also why so often the fundraising call to action starts with the phrase YES! I want to... So construct... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
November might seem like it's another age from now, that you can't really think about it yet. But you should. Especially if you'd like to ramp up your storytelling abilities. Here's why: The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference November 10 - 11, 2016 Chicago Hilton That's right: The fundraising conference that's different from the others is going to be in Chicago this year. More convenient to more people! I highly recommend this conference. If you've been to any of the others and found yourself saying, that's it? -- you should consider the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. This one really is different: There's a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a super-easy way to look at your donor newsletter and see if it's doing its job: Dear Donor, You rock! Here's why... Every piece of content in every donor newsletter should fit match this model. When you do that, you'll have a newsletter that raises funds, and improves donor retention by improving your donor relationships! 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 Jun 23, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Weird thing: Andrew Olsen's Fundraising Fundamentals blog recently featured this post: 10 bad decisions nonprofits make. I don't know Andrew. I've never spoken to him. Yet if I were to come up with my own list of 10 bad nonprofit decisions, it would be pretty much the same as his: Operating without a strategic plan. Expecting nothing from your board. Not enforcing board term limits. Changing strategies and tactics that are working. Allowing people who aren't fundraisers to make decisions about your fundraising. Stopping new donor acquisition. (This one is a hidden killer that can throw you into a financial... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Weird thing: Andrew Olsen's Fundraising Fundamentals blog recently featured this post: 10 bad decisions nonprofits make. I don't know Andrew. I've never spoken to him. Yet if I were to come up with my own list of 10 bad nonprofit decisions, it would be pretty much the same as his: Operating without a strategic plan. Expecting nothing from your board. Not enforcing board term limits. Changing strategies and tactics that are working. Allowing people who aren't fundraisers to make decisions about your fundraising. Stopping new donor acquisition. (This one is a hidden killer that can throw you into a financial... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing. When you compare Americans with other people around the world -- especially our counterparts in Europe -- there's a lot that stands out. We work too many hours. We don't take enough vacations. We're too consumed with consumerism. We're too concerned about profit. We're too driven, often at the expense of enjoying life. So with all that, are Americans less charitable as well? In a word, no. Not according to the new GivingUSA report. For comparison's sake, according to a report from Fondation de France, about 44% of Europeans are... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I've had front-row seats to this disaster several times: The organization's core donors (those who've been giving for three or more years) are suddenly lapsing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Or to put it another way, the group of donors who normally have the highest retention rate of all donors are suddenly lapsing at a rate like that of brand-new donors. Panicked, we dig into the data. After a long search, the truth comes out. Thousands upon thousands of these donors have been placed on a "Do Not Solicit" list. Far more of them than could possibly have happened... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
I saw this CDC display in an airport the other day. It's not a fundraising message, but it makes a communication error that's often made in fundraising: Here's the error: They're talking about the issue from their own point of view, not that of their audience. If you work at the CDC, your picture of Hepatitis C is that it's a big and widespread problem. So a lot of faces superimposed on a map captures that sense. For you. And the final line: Early detection can save lives is a crystallizing and motivating statement of the problem and its solution.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the ways top-notch writers make their copy readable, memorable, and persuasive is they make it rhythmic. Rhythm carries your reader along and makes the experience of reading more pleasurable. So how do you make your writing more rhythmic? Here's help from the Bad Language blog, at I got rhythm: how to write foot-tapping copy: The rule of three. (Write things in groups of three.) Short words and short sentences. (This always improves rhythm. Long words can be clunky and awkward, like a rusty wheelbarrow on the dance floor.) Read it aloud. (This is the best way to improve... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
Any time a donor gives to an organization for the first time, you should see it as a trial: The donor trying the organization. Whether or not the donor is thinking of it that way, that's what it is. It explains why the rate of subsequent giving is so low: Organizations don't past the test. From the Bloomerang blog, here are just a few ways things go wrong, at 4 Ways to Ensure a Donor Gives Only Once: Acknowledge the gift like a transaction, not a gift. (Thank like you really mean it!) Hey, we'll be in touch ... when... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now
It's easy to get focused on the size of a problem. Thousands of people are homeless in our community. Hundreds of acres of forest are destroyed every day. Millions of innocent animals are euthanized every year. 24,000 children die from hunger every day. These things seem to add scope and urgency to our causes. Thing is, they don't. They make our causes seem less real to most donors. Seth Godin points this out at More than ten is too many: Time and again, we're unable to put more urgency or more value on choices that have more impact. We don't... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at Future Fundraising Now