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Jeff Brooks
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You need more monthly donors. Everyone does. But how? One way is to encourage single-gift donors who give through direct mail to convert to monthly giving. And one low-cost way to do that is to include a monthly giving option in your direct mail appeals. Here's a very helpful post on how to do that form A Direct Solution, at 5 Ways You Can Add a Monthly Giving Ask to Your Appeals: Put the monthly giving tick box on the back of your appeal reply form. The safest and least impactful option. Put the monthly giving tick box right below... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
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Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? They are kid-fiction adventures told in the second person so it has an immediate feel to the reader Every few pages, you come to a choice. It goes something like this: If you decide to explore the dark, ill-smelling cave, turn to page 52. If you decide to run away as fast as you can, turn to page 65. Then you choose. Your choice leads to a different outcomes of the story. That's what makes them cool. Fundraising should be a lot like that. But way better, because it's real. A fundraising message... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
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Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer I'm no fan of stylebooks in general. Many of them do more harm than good to quality writing. (Like the awful Strunk and White.) But here's a good one. It's packed with smart writing advice from a seasoned copy editor who has only a few chips on his shoulder. Right at the beginning, Dreyer makes it clear that style rules exist only to make your writing better. Not to uphold the sniffy peeves of English teachers and grammar fanatics. And, right away, he dispatched a handful of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
There are a lot of things you can join. Boards, clubs, airline mileage clubs ... They all promise something. Some deliver. Others don't. But here's something you can join that you will thank yourself for. Not years from now, but WEEKS from today... The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. I recommend you look into it. Right now, while the doors are open. Here's why: It's a treasure-trove of great stuff on the kind of fundraising that builds organizations -- and careers. I'm talking: Donor-focused. Fact based. Real-world and practical. Built around a community of smart fundraisers around the world. And, most... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
You can learn a lot from your mistakes. If your mind is open, you can learn from other people's mistakes too. Here's a post from The Nonprofit Alliance Blog with 13 fundraising Mistakes. Having seen most of these mistakes myself, I can tell you -- these are things to avoid! Cutting acquisition quantity to improve this year’s fundraising ratios, but destroying your future revenue stream in the process. Hiring the wrong major gift leader. You don’t want a major gift leader who meddles with your successful direct response program instead of visiting with donors. Major gift officers should generate major... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
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Excerpt from How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing A TV newscaster in Australia gets a dream assignment: Interview the Dalai Lama. He decides to start the way he often does -- by telling a joke to put his subject at ease. Unfortunately, he decides to tell the Dalai Lama a Dalai Lama joke. It goes something like this: "The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza joint and says, 'Can you make me one with everything?'" His Holiness looks at the newscaster blankly. He asks an aide what pizza is. The newscaster tries... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
So one of your donors who has been on your file for a few years and has given a handful of under $100 donations through direct mail out of the blue gives you $30,000. Hooray! you say. She's risen to a whole new level of support! Now we can rescue her from the Slum of Direct Mail Fundraising! Sounds like a happy scenario. Is it? Not according to this insightful post on the Veritus Group blog: Should Major Donors Get Fund Appeals? When a donor becomes a major donor, you should not automatically suppress her from your direct mail. Because... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Here's an interesting test reported at ProActive Content: Are Your Fundraising Emails Over-Designed? The test compared three different versions of an email: A fairly typical, minimally designed email offering a free book in exchange for a donation of any amount. Used the same design, but added in deadline-driven copywriting to increase urgency. Altered the copy to sound more like a letter, and presented it as a text-only email with no design. The winner: #3 -- 116% more donations than #1, which was the lowest performing version. (#2 was between, doing 36% more than #1.) My experience with this type of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Sometimes we look at donors and their brains the way we look at the inert form of a frog we're dissecting. It's as if we can know everything about how their brains work, we can raise a lot more money. That's true, up to a point. There's another brain you need to pay attention to if you want to do well in fundraising: Your own brain. Because fundraising is not just a procedure enact on the donor's brain. It's the interaction between your brain and the donor's. A helpful post at the Bloomerang Blog brings this out: Neuroscience Meets Fundraising:... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Trying to motivate donors to give by addressing them with jargon they don't understand crushes a lot of fundraising efforts. People are far less likely to respond if they don't know what you're talking about. Why does it happen so often? The Daily Egg asked that same question: Everyone Hates Jargon. So Why Do People Still Use It? A possible answer? Many people are afraid of using language that's simple because they worry that it will make their product or service seem basic. Provided you're careful when writing about what you do, that's not as big a risk as people... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Let's just get this out on the table: Fundraising can be terrifying. You can work at it for years ... decades ... and then discover there's one more thing you've been doing wrong all those years. And there's always some tiny error, the kind you hardly notice ... until it scuttles an entire campaign. It's not just you. It's all of us. Sometimes you might think that only a tiny group of superhumans ever "arrive" at fundraising greatness. That the best the rest of us can hope for is fundraising adequacy. Good news. That's not quite true. Yes, fundraising is... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
I've seen it with my own eyes. Yes, the worst thank you letter ever written by a nonprofit to its donors. Okay, I can't verify that it's the worst. But this one has to be close. Here it is (names and details changed to protect the guilty parties): Dear [Salutation], At its highest aspiration, philanthropy is a way to fulfill our desire to have meaningful impact and change peoples' lives in a profound way. I'm writing to express my gratitude for your gift of [Amount] on [Date] in support of [Designation] at Springfield Community Hospital. Generous investments like yours are... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
You've probably heard of advertising legend David Ogilvy. He virtually invented modern direct response copywriting. Wouldn't you like to know how he did it? He wrote it down! In 1955, a fan asked him to describe his right process. And he did. It's pretty amazing, and inspiring or helpful to the rest of us poor slobs who write. The letter is at Letters of Note: I am a lousy copywriter. Here's the core of it: I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home. I spend a long time studying... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Here are two outlines for fundraising appeals from the Better Fundraising Blog, at The Simple Outline for Appeals That Raise Money. The appeal outline that seldom works Thank you for helping in the past. Let me tell you a story about someone we already helped. Please help us continue this good work. The appeal outline that almost always works There's a problem right now. You are needed to solve it. Here's how your gift will solve it. Funny thing is, the one that seldom works is probably the most commonly used approach. I estimate that two out of three appeals... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Why is fundraising so "ugly"? Personally, I find it hard to call activities that power so many of the world's good deeds ugly -- but I understand the question. Most effective fundraising has a clunky, out-dated, not-so-pretty look. Some people who come to our field without experience think it's because we're just kind of clumsy and don't know how to make it nicer-looking. That's not it, at least not most of the time. Here's a good explanation from Seth Godin, at Pretty websites: ...the worldview of people who are likely to sign up, 'like,' share, click, act and generally take... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Why does branding have a bad reputation in the fundraising world? It should be a powerful tool for motivating donors to higher levels of giving and other engagement. But too often, it does the exact opposite. A spiffy new brand rolls out, and fundraising crashes. All that tells us is that in those cases, the brand is a negative, or that it is wrongly applied. But it happens alarmingly often. Which leads many observant and experienced people to conclude that there's something broken about the discipline of branding itself. That nonprofits shouldn't "do" branding. It's a reasonable conclusion, but it's... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Does your board understand fundraising? They should. But they probably don't. Why would they? Most of them have jobs doing other things. You need to lead them to understanding fundraising. When you do that, you will reap amazing rewards. They'll be better at finding and raising funds. They'll give more themselves. And they'll do a lot less destructive micromanaging! Here are Six Things Your Board Needs to Know about Fundraising from the GuideStar Blog: Fundraising isn't complicated. If you know how to have any kind of human relationship, you're well equipped to raise funds. Fundraising isn't begging. It's partnership. Begging... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Finding and cultivating donors with Facebook ads just might work for you. But you have to know what you're doing. Here's a great post from the Hubspot Marketing Blog that can help: Facebook Advertising Advice: 10 Tips: Keep track of qualitative metrics. "Vanity metrics," such as shares and likes, shouldn't be what you're after on Facebook (see #8), but pay attention to them, because they are connected with success. Take advantage of Facebook's precise Ad targeting. Target specific people on your list (by uploading their email address, or tightly defined groups as defined by geography, demographics, and interests. Test different... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
If you're not getting much action from your website, the problem could be self inflicted. This post from Wired Impact, 11 Web Design Issues That Hurt Nonprofit Website Conversions, might help you uncover things you're doing that are making it not work as it should: Making text a low contrast color. Hiding your links. Make sure they are underlined, in a visible color, and easy for people to see and identify as links. Not having a responsive website. Make sure you know immediately if anything is broken. Setting a pop-up to show immediately. Pop-ups that load immediately when someone lands... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Recently in a Moceanic Office Hours webinar, I was talking about the disturbing trends in fundraising: Dropping response rates, rising costs, shrinking retention. Then I noted that these are industry-wide numbers; many organizations are doing better and they're moving in the opposite direction -- growing, not shrinking. And the difference, most of the time, is fundraising excellence. Do stuff right, and you aren't a prisoner of the dismal trends. Then one of the webinar attendees said something that stopped me cold: Excellence is so intimidating! It stopped me because I knew exactly what she meant. Fundraising is difficult and complex.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you believe your donors are donors? That might sound like a silly question, but a lot of people involved in fundraising really believe that donors fundamentally are not donors! And that makes them afraid to ask. Because fundamentally if you think donors are not donors, asking is awkward, aggressive, and just weird. So you simply decide it's better not to try asking, or to limit asking, or to approach giving in an abstract that hides the fact that your ask is an ask. Here's a helpful look at this from the Passionate Giving Blog, at The Two Donors Who... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
It's amazing how often I see this: A nonprofit researches their donors (smart move), and gets a bunch of demographic statistics. Almost always, there's a surprise stat. It looks like this: 68% of our donors are male It's a surprise, because it's probably not true. Women commandingly outnumber men among donors. About two to one. There are donor files that tilt male, because of the nature of the cause or the way it's been marketed. But that's rare. If your organization is one of these, you probably already know it. The research keeps on telling us that males outnumber females... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
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Excerpted from my book, The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving. I'd been in India maybe 20 minutes, in a cab from the airport, when I saw him: a small man, sitting by the road, his feet stretched out toward traffic. Something was wrong with the shape of his face -- as if one eye and the cheek below had been scooped away. Then my gaze was drawn to his foot. Swollen, mottled pink, surrounded by a cloud of flies. It didn't look like a foot, but more like an underinflated football, oozing,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Should you be promoting Amazon Smile to your donors? Why not? It's free money, isn't it? I mean, all you have to do is sending an email to your donors encouraging them to designate you as their Amazon Smile favorite charity. Then you'll get .5% of their Amazon purchases amounts forever. (Or until Amazon cancels or changes the program.) But let's take a deeper look at the cost and benefit of doing this: You know how low engagement to email is. A small percentage will even consider what you're proposing. Of that small group who pay attention to what you're... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
1. Fundraising is heart, not head Giving is emotional. Not a rational act. To persuade someone to give, connect with the emotions. Tell stories, don't make the case with facts and statistics. Stats deaden people's sense of compassion and connection. 2. Fundraising is about action, not education Fundraising is about asking donors to do something specific and meaningful. Not giving them a lot of facts that will turn them into donors. You simply can't teach someone into giving. But you can thrill them into giving by offering specific action. 3. Fundraising is specific, not general "Support our cause" isn't fundraising.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now