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Jeff Brooks
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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 marketing 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 2 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss The marketing for this book emphasizes the background of the author: He used to be a hostage negotiator for the FBI who honed the art of negotiation in life-or-death situations with criminals and terrorists. What could he teach us about fundraising? Quite a lot, it turns out. You see, successful negotiation with a bad guy who just might murder a hostage if it doesn't work out hinges on your ability to listen, to understand, to build a relationship. (By the way, the old way of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
We're still flying somewhat blind in this storm, getting only anecdotal evidence of what's happening in fundraising generally. But here's a report of some research at Queer Ideas: Coronavirus research findings. What do donors think about giving now? Part 2. Here are a few of the findings: Giving is increasingly seen as good -- as is fundraising. Even donors who have been hit economically are remaining remarkably generous. International development charities are increasingly seen as both important and relevant. We expect the upswing in philanthropy to continue. People still tend to use the term Coronavirus rather than Covid-19. There are... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
What's different in fundraising right now? Check out this look on the Bloomerang Blog, at Best and Worst Nonprofit Coronavirus Crisis Communication Strategies. Here's the bad: The worst is NO communication. That's what a lot of fundraisers are doing. It's a massive error that some may never recover from. The second worst is TONE-DEAF communication. Some (not many, fortunately) are acting as if nothing unusual is going on. That's another error that will hurt those who make it. The third worst is ignoring the fact you need fundraising income now (assuming you do). If you need money, ask. If you... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Have you been looking for the Secret Formula for Successful Fundraising? Have you been told there isn't one -- that the secret is some combination of hard work and knowledge? Guess what: There IS a secret formula, according to the Passionate Giving Blog. Here's the secret: Give the donor the opportunity to DO something she truly cares about. That's it. It's true for all fundraising. All causes. All channels. All types of donors. You might be thinking, "Now that the Secret Formula is out on the Internet, it's not much of a secret any more!" Really, it has never been... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
The coronavirus pandemic has starkly uncovered one of the deepest and most destructive problems in the fundraising world: The destructive power of the amateur. Amateurs -- often (but not always) in the form of opinionated board members -- often have too much sway in fundraising decision-making. Their habit of making decisions based on nothing but hunch, opinion, and intuition has cost our sector billions in lost revenue over the years. They issue rulings like .... "Stop sending direct mail. Nobody reads it any more. Start fundraising on [fad social media site of the moment]." "Our donors are dying! Give up... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Maybe your fundraising doesn't work like it should because it sucks. Here's a quick checklist of common sucky qualities in fundraising. Does your fundraising have these things? Pretentious, over-formal language that doesn't connect with your donor. Empty superlatives like "cutting-edge" and "innovative." Lack of a clear "what's in it for me" for your donors; it's based on "educating" your poor, ignorant donors, as if charitable giving were entirely am intellectual proposition. Reliance on jargon and insider talk. Shortage of the word "you." It's "we, we, we," all the way home. Big numbers. Call to action ("give") is hidden, indirect, passive,... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Are donors getting sick of our emails? Not according to this bunch of data reported at the THD Blog at What We Learned About Email Marketing During the Pandemic. The findings, looking at March 2020, showed: Highest open rates in 2+ years. Lowest unsubscribe rates in 2+ years. Response rates way up. (See the post for more details.) If you've been afraid of some kind of donor rebellions about your emails, stop being afraid! We are in an unusual time. Donors are more responsive than usual. Part of the reason is no doubt because so many fundraising are sitting this... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
The coronavirus is a dangerous enemy. But there's something worse, much more likely to do deep and lasting harm to your organization... Fear. Fear will push you into bad decisions of all kinds. But clarity, courage, and confidence will help you through this time stronger than ever -- as you'll see in this great post from the Bloomerang Blog at Crisis of Confidence: Your Nonprofit's Worst Fundraising Enemy: Don't act as if it's business as usual. We're in a completely unusual time. The crisis touches everything -- even things you might logically think are not impacted by it. Acknowledge the... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Let's take a look at two headlines: One "clever," the other intelligent. Clever headline This headline is for an ad that ran in publications in India after a deadly cyclone. It's from an Indian relief organization raising funds within India. Like so many clever headlines, it takes an indirect approach to its subject. It doesn't address the reader with the tragedy at hand and give her a good reason to respond. It addresses a side issue -- the low response to the cyclone. It also exhibits another common approach of clever headlines: the old "nobody cares about our cause" trope,... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
There's a good chance your finance people are taking a hard look at what they can cut from your budget. If they don't quite understand fundraising, they may think that's a easy cut with minimum negative fallout. If that's how they think, they need to learn a few things, fast. This recent post from Fired Up Fundraising -- Three Things Your CFO Needs to Know About Fundraising -- just might help: Fundraising is Predictable. It doesn't always seem that way, but it really is. Our job is to create an overall strategy for getting new donors (to replace those we... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Organizations that are connecting with donors are raising never-before-experienced levels of funds. New donors are showing up for the party. Donors are giving larger gifts than they've ever given. It's truly extraordinary. Why is this happening? Two main reasons. Unlike most crises, everyone is in this one together. Nobody has to be told "It's a crisis. It's bad. It's a big deal." Most of the time fundraisers have the fairly difficult task of telling people about a problem they're only distantly aware of: A famine half-way around the world. An ecosystem they've never seen being destroyed. Poverty in their own... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
From Marketoonist: On December 26, 2004, digital fundraising became a thing. It had already been around for several years, growing steadily. But that day it went from something nonprofits dabbled in, wondering if it would ever matter -- and became an important part of any fundraiser's toolbox. That was the day of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the Disaster Made for YouTube. Because there was so much video of the destruction people were highly aware of it for weeks. They went online to give like never before and sparked massive growth in giving online. Suddenly online fundraising wasn't only for organizations... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
This time of COVID-19 fundraising has been a real crucible for a lot of us. It has forced us do things faster, smarter, and more efficiently than ever. And guess what? Most of these ways of doing things are the right way to do it all the time. 1. Keep the amateurs out of the kitchen. I'm talking about those who know nothing about fundraising, but have strong opinions nevertheless. Board members and other authorities who bring nothing to the table other than their hunches. During the crisis, many of us have put our fundraising on superfast track, meaning we... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Not only are donors giving at record rates, they're also making and updating their wills. And that could be important for your organization. A recent post at the Good Works blog, Unplanning Planned Giving, outlines the situation and what you can do about it: ... will-making and will-updating activity has mushroomed more than at any time in living memory. Many, many people -- suddenly faced with their own mortality-- decided that they couldn’t delay getting their estates in order. Here's what you can do: Include information on your website that help donors include you in their will. That includes your... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
The crisis we're living through right now is stressful and painful. But one of the interesting side effects is that donors are stepping up with record generosity. And that means a lot of amazingly successful fundraising. I've been in this business for a long time, and I've never seen fundraising results like we're seeing now! Let me give you a few examples I've heard recently... Everything is working We've got about 45 clients raising money hand over fist right now. Email open rates are through the roof -- as high as 60%. Most organizations are doing better than normal with... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
You know that Nigerian prince who writes to you now and then with a deal where he says you'll end up with a couple million dollars? I think that guy has become a consultant to nonprofits during the coronavirus crisis. His advice to his nonprofit clients about what to do is about as good as his former investment offers. And a lot of fundraisers are listening to him. That's my best explanation for the destructive myths that are floating around the nonprofit world right now. It could be some other reason. However the bad info is getting spread, we need... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to make the most of your fundraising while donors are so responsive? Double down on the fundamentals. More than ever, getting the basics of fundraising right will pay off in more revenue, higher donor retention, and more upgrading. Here's how, from the MarkeTeam Blog, at COVID-19: Don't Forget the Fundamentals: Be Engaging. Really think about how your communications feel to your donors. Be interesting. Emotional. Open. Caring. Optimistic. These are qualities donors are looking for, especially now. Ask. This is an unusual time for fundraisers. A perfect combination of factors have made donors extraordinarily responsive. It's because they want... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
The most important lesson I've learned from the COVID-19 crisis (other than "don't drink bleach") is how better we are when we support each other. The advice, the camaraderie, the moral and practical support make each of us so much stronger and more capable. And I know I might be biased, but my favorite community for hardworking and serious fundraising professionals is The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. It's a membership group for people like you. And you have about one day left to join. Enrollment closes tomorrow. It will be quite a long time before it opens up again. Maybe... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Some of your donors are visiting your donation pages, and then not donating. That's so sad! You can do something about that. Check out this post on the Nonprofit Tech for Good Blog: 10 Donation Page Best Practices for Nonprofits (lots of examples): Ensure that your donation pages have the same branding as your website. Research shows that one in six online donors drop out of the donation process find themselves on a third-party website. Ouch! Add a monthly giving option. The value of a monthly donor is many times that of a one-time donor, and online givers are somewhat... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Everything is different! Change everything! Pivot! How should you pivot, though? A Direct Solution has a great idea, at Is It Time to Pivot? ...the only real direction to pivot in right now is to go back to what most fundraising organizations should have been focusing on all along: the basics! Back to the basics is the smartest pivot you can make. That means things like: Great donor service. Thank donors in a timely fashion. Tell donors the difference they're making. Segment your mailing list (and email list). Evaluate your fundraising results with the right metrics! Write like you're writing... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Good use of data can help you create messages for your donors that are more relevant, interesting -- and effective. But data can betray you in embarrassing ways. Like it does in this letter from an organization I support. (I'm hiding their identity because I don't want them to be embarrassed in front of their peers.) Here's the paragraph where things go awry: I'm embarrassed that I neglected to donate for such a long time. It's an excellent cause. But does that call for sarcasm? Okay, I know they aren't being sarcastic, but it comes across that way: All the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
The biggest and most damaging piece of bad information for fundraisers in this crisis is this: Don't talk to your donors right now! They'll be furious. They'll never donate again, and they'll tell everyone they know that your organization is not nice! Be afraid! I don't know how many nonprofits are taking this advice, but judging by my mailbox and inbox, quite a few are. Organizations that are shutting down right now are missing out on an amazing opportunity. Because most fundraisers who have stayed active and adjusted their messaging to the current reality are experiencing never-before levels of donor... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Let me show you what's in a nonprofit newsletter I just got. I've changed the name of the organization to "Springfield Legal Aid" to disguise its identity, but here are the headlines of the articles in the newsletter that was sent to donors: SLA opens full-time office in eastern Hooper County SLA Managing Attorney Jane Doe pens guest column in honor of Independence Day SLA hosts free estate planning clinic for renters Senior Paralegal Joan Roe receives Award for her work on behalf of renters Law student John Moe awarded fellowship to work with SLA in Springfield Current Job Opportunities... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a helpful look at what you can do right now to keep your fundraising -- and yourself -- going strong, from the CSS Blog, at The Fundraiser's Guide to Self-Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Prioritize the activities that bring in gifts. "Awareness" and "publicity" activities that don't directly generate funds are iffy in the best of times. Don't spend time or money on them now. You can still raise money while staying home. Call donors. Create virtual meetings with team members. Keep things going! Set aside 90 minutes daily to make phone calls. Checking in with donors -- as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2020 at Future Fundraising Now