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Jeff Brooks
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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 3 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
When a donor completes an online donation, they have persevered against an army of distractions. A lot of those distractions are innate to the digital world -- no matter what you're doing, you're always one click away from something more interesting. But some of the distractions are avoidable. You may put them there, costing yourself lost donations. The Wired Impact blog has some good advice for helping donors stay on task, at Wondering How to Get People to Donate Online? Remove These 5 Barriers: Your donors don’t trust you. Many donors assume your organization is a scam -- until they... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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Testing Tuesday: A weekly series on how to get the most of direct-response fundraising tests We were looking at some very odd direct mail test results. They seemed to show a result exactly at odds with what experienced people know to be true. The test showed that an "organizational" approach in the message convincingly out-performed a "personal" approach. You're probably thinking exactly what I was: What the heck? I assumed (as did everyone else involved) that "organizational" meant it emphasized the organization's role in the topic at hand, and "personal" meant it emphasized the donor's role. So for the past... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Just two things. That's all you need to raise a whole lot more money: Knowledge. Connection with other fundraisers. That's it. And here's where you can find both: By joining The Fundraisingology Lab. It's the Moceanic group for fundraisers. Not just any fundraisers, but the ones who get it. Like you. Here's the knowledge part. As a member of The Fundraisingology Lab you have access to: Support from the experts. Get answers to your most pressing questions during regular live Q&A video calls. This has never been more important as we all learn together about the new challenges face. Access... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Good article in Nonprofit Pro: The Death of 'X': Why 'Boring' Might Be Best for Nonprofits. In this equation, X = anything you're doing now to raise funds. You'll hear it from one-track consultants: Direct mail is dead, so you need to reinvest in millennial hoverboard/bitcoin fundraising, which I just happen to be an expert in. While it's true that our donors' use of media is shifting, which tells us that we should be doing that too -- the old media aren't dying. They're changing. Some money is moving from direct mail to digital channels. So keep your eyes open.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
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Book Review: First You Write a Sentence: The Elements of Reading, Writing ... and Life by Joe Moran It's almost too obvious to mention, the sentence is the basic building block of all writing. If you want to write well, you need to be a master of sentences. This is a book for writers. It delves deep into the construction of powerful, readable sentences. If you're looking for a quick, easy solution to your fundraising challenge, this isn't your book. But if you really want to touch hearts and minds with your writing, and you're willing to put some work... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Now what? You made it through 2020, and now it's 2021. Amy Eisenstein's blog has some ideas, at Top 5 Fundraising No-Brainers for Nonprofit Professionals in 2021: Raising major gifts. Major donors are critical to your overall success as a fundraiser. Their donations can transform your financial picture. And it can happen pretty quickly if you get going on it now. They aren't better people than the rest of your donors, but common sense and the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule) tell us you need to be thinking about them. Thanking donors. Thanking donors is the right thing to do. And... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
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Testing Tuesday: A weekly series on how to get the most of direct-response fundraising tests It seemed like snake oil. The Sales Dude was selling us new email technique. But one of the lessons you quickly learn in fundraising is not to trust your instinct too much. You'd be amazed how often gut instinct turns out to be dramatically wrong. So when you see a new idea, even if your instincts are screaming give me a break! -- you learn to listen for facts before you draw conclusions. That's even more true in the fast-changing world of digital fundraising. Sales... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Asking people to donate is scary. Even experienced professional fundraisers wonder sometimes if they're doing the right thing by asking. If you wonder about that, I urge you to watch this TEDx Talk: How Money Can Buy You Happiness: Why Fundraising is Transformational. Discover the strategy you need at a free online workshop called The Hidden Treasure of Fundraising: Recession-Proof Secrets to Unlock the Power of Donors and Raise More Money . Taught by Sean Triner of Moceanic, this webinar is coming on February 17 and 18, at times that will work with your schedule. Space is limited, so grab... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
I have a feeling you're one of those fundraisers who are ready to break free from the common myths that are paralyzing your fundraising and your career. I think you'd like to see the big picture of fundraising -- the picture that helps you make sure all your work makes sense and is going in the same direction. And you could really make use of a formula that mathematically proves the value of fundraising (including the value of you — to penny-pinching bosses. In this time of uncertainty and recession, what could be more critical to your success -- and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Is storytelling important in fundraising? Of course it is. But knowing that fact by itself doesn't help you much. Because you have to tell the right story in the right way. Imagine you own a café. It's a great little place, with the best coffee and wonderful food. Business is pretty good, but you think it could be better. Searching for a way to improve business, you learn that music can meaningfully increase sales and customer retention in businesses like yours. Great news! You were a music major in college! You majored in bagpipe performance! When it comes to bagpipe... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
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Testing Tuesday: A weekly series on how to get the most of direct-response fundraising tests Everyone tells you that you should be testing your fundraising messages. But should you? Possibly not. Most fundraisers shouldn't be testing. Not because testing isn't worthwhile, but because the large majority of organizations don't have enough donors to give trustworthy test results. For most nonprofits, the chance that test results will be untrustworthy are high. Almost certain. It would be like going to the doctor to test your blood for some condition, and finding out the chance of a false positive or false negative are... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Failure is an important part of success. People with the most wins usually also have the highest number of losses. But that doesn't make failing feel any better. Sometimes failure can really get to you and derail you from your best. So, while I hope you do fail now and then, I also recommend you read How to Bounce Back From Failure on Michael Hyatt's Blog. It gives you three strategies to be more resilient in the face of failure: Keep a written record of your wins. You succeed more often than you think. Your innate bias to focus on... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
The Internet is killing off the Cute Headline. And I say good riddance! Search engines don't understand puns. They don't appreciate wordplay, double-entendre, or irony. These things just confuse them, because they need literalness and clarity. If you want people to find your article on Google, you'd better be clear and literal, especially the headline. Your wordplay will push you way down the result page. Now let me tell you a secret: Almost all of your readers and donors are like Google: They don't care about wordplay. It just confuses them. Being literal tells them what they want to know.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
You're wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Me too. We've had nearly a full year of record-breaking fundraising results. (That is, if you've been active connecting with donors during this pandemic.) It can't go on. Can it? At some point, we will enter a more difficult phase for fundraising, when our hunkered-down donors will transition from crisis mode -- which has been motivating incredible giving -- to slog mode. That's when this we're-all-in-this-together feeling is replaced by something less energizing. That's what usually happens after a crisis. I've given up even trying to predict when (or even... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's a life truth you can run with: Gathering stuff doesn't make you happy. But gathering experience does. Many people -- especially older people -- know instinctively. And that's where we fundraisers come into the picture. Charitable giving is an experience. And you will do well when you make your fundraising the best experience possible. Here are four ways to do that: Be specific. Always make your fundraising about something the donor can do. Make your calls to action about specific things. Not just supporting your cause or your organization. We know that donors rarely give to support organizations --... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are the 5 most-read Future Fundraising Now posts from the past month: Best fundraising blogs for 2021 How nonprofit entitlement mentality destroys organizations The problem with problem-free fundraising Improve your fundraising by improving the story you tell yourself Fundraising is about love, and that changes everything Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Our donors just don't make the grade. We really need to increase their sophistication about our work. We've got to stop coddling them with simple and easy-to-grasp fundraising offers. That seems to be the message of How can you save a child for £1 a day? at The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network, a UK blog about nonprofit issues. A charity executive sniffs at the "save a child with £1 per day" offers: The proliferation of quick-fix and cheap solutions, like the ones offered by charities on the street, has led society to accept an inferior standard of development for the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
The best way to do better is to offer something better. That's as true in fundraising as everywhere else, but to show you what I mean, let me show you something from the world that it better. Maybe you know about the line of blank notebooks called Moleskine. The small one I use costs around $10. Pretty dumb, huh? I could get a notebook of that size at the drugstore for under $2. Every time I go to a conference I bring home two or three notebooks for free. Yet I shell out ten bucks for a Moleskine. Because it's... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
What's wrong with this (real, unfortunately) fundraising sentence? We pray that this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and well as we all face the challenge of living in a changed world due to the pandemic. Nothing at all wrong with the sentiments it expresses. And I could nitpick it a little, noting that at 30 words, it's long -- but if other sentences around it are shorter, that's not so bad. The editorial "we" it starts with isn't a great thing, but it's not a fatal flaw. The real problem is that it's a spaghetti bowl. Confusing... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Too many fundraisers edit "love" out of their messaging. I guess it just don't seem "professional." If you're doing that in fundraising copy, you're missing the entire point of asking and giving. Fundraising is all about love. If it isn't, you might as well be banging away at a gong for all the good you're doing. And not raising much money. Asking and giving are activities of the heart. They always will be, no matter how professionalized fundraising is. Don't be afraid of love and its cousins, like compassion, kindness, caring, empathy. Instead, be afraid of operating without them. Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2021 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 Jan 21, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
I just got a newsletter that takes poor design to a whole new level -- beyond hard-to-read, beyond inappropriate, beyond awkward. It's evil. Yeah, that's quite a charge to lay on a newsletter. But I think you'll agree with me. I can't show it to you. I don't want to embarrass anyone. But even if I didn't care about that, I can't, because it's literally unscannable. It's printed in five colors: the usual four plus metallic silver. That's right, reflective silver ink. Which could be just fine, but not the way it's used here. Reflective silver the background color of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
We all live in stories that we're telling ourselves, constantly interpreting what happens around us. You've probably noticed that some people tell better stories than others. They see themselves as having purpose, direction, and agency. They're good at grabbing opportunities. They recover from adversity. They assume others are allies and friends unless proven otherwise. Organizations do it too. The stories your organization tells can make the difference between success and failure. The Better Fundraising Blog proposes some smart organizational stories nonprofit organizations can tell that lead to success, at Two Lessons from 2020. Here are some stories you can tell:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now
Every so often, I'll read a blog post titled something like "9 ways to write better fundraising." I love pieces like that, because I'm fascinated by what people consider "short-list" critical elements for success. And as often as not, I learn something from those lists. The thing that dismays me is how often one of those 9 ways to write better fundraising is something like Find your voice. Or Be Yourself. Because "Be Yourself" is terrible advice for writing good fundraising. Nobody gives a rip about your voice. Except maybe your mother and your creative writing mentor. And Mom is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2021 at Future Fundraising Now