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Jeff Brooks
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Inflation and a sinking stock market are going to kill our fundraising, right? Maybe not. If you keep your nerves and go to your donors with relevant (to them) messaging, you will get through this, according to this post at the Veritus Group Blog: Inflation and a Troubled Economy Should Not Affect Giving. ... if your ask perfectly matches your donor’s passions and interests, and if you explain in human and emotional terms what happens if the need is not met, there is high probability that the donor will give. Why? Because they deeply care about what you are presenting... Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at Future Fundraising Now
Failure is inevitable in fundraising. Show me an organization that never fails, and I'll show you one that's not prepared for the future. Even the very near future. Here are five categories of fundraising failure -- and how can survive them and make the best of it: Abject Failure. Flat-out, unambiguous, it-didn't-even-come-close failure. You tried, but you just missed. This most often happens because what you were selling, they weren't buying. Maybe you had no clear call to action. Or your offer and your audience were not aligned. Or your audience wasn't really donors. When you experience Abject Failure, at... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Your donor newsletter (the print version, anyway) should be bringing in net revenue. If it isn't, it might be that you aren't sending it to donors, or you don't have enough active donors to make it work. But if you aren't raising net revenue and you have enough donors (let's say at least 1,000 current donors, though I've seen organizations with fewer make it work:) -- it might be you are sending the wrong content. Here's a good look at what you should be in your donor newsletter, from the Bloomerang Blog, at How Do Nonprofits Raise More Money Through... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
We spend a lot of time perfecting our asking. How much do we spend on our thanking? Thanking well might matter as much or more than asking. It's a key ingredient for turning a donation from a transaction to a relationship. Here are some great tips from The Storytelling Non-profit, at 10 Tips for Writing a Better Donor Thank You Letter: Personalize as much as possible. Your thank you letter is a message specifically to one donor. That means you must (really must) use their name and their gift amount. And anything else you can come up with that's about... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
A donor writes a letter to the president of the organization. It’s an articulate critique of what the donor dislikes about their fundraising: It’s simplistic, repetitious, and emotional. What do you do? What do you say? We read an actual letter from a real donor and talk through the right — and wrong — response. There’s a disastrously bad response that many organizations make to letters like this. There’s also an affirming, correct, and revenue-enhancing response. From the archives of the now-defunct podcast Fundraising Is Beautiful. This episode first aired on November 19, 2014. Listen here: (If you don't see... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Some donors just aren't that into you. They give, and then never give again. In fact, a meaningful majority of donors never give a second time to any organization that donate to. Industry-wide, 81% of first-time donors don't give again. I assume that because you read this blog, you are doing better than that with your first-time donors, but still ... most of them won't repeat. Here are some donor types who are least likely to give more than once: Event donors. Donors who give at a gala, auction, or other event are more motivated by the event, and their... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
A recent study of arts and cultural organization fundraising found that early in the pandemic, some organizations experienced a marked increase of return on investment (ROI) while at the same time revenue just barely edged upward. See the report at SMU DataArts, Studying Early Pandemic Data: Less Fundraising Expenses Led to Higher Returns for Arts and Cultural Organizations. Here's the basic finding: In 2019, every dollar spent on fundraising raised $6.22. This was close to the several previous years. In 2020 every dollar spend on fundraising raised $7.35 -- a 16% increase. In the same period, donated revenue increased by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Should board members be required to donate to their organizations? Joan Garry says: ABSOLUTELY at Should Board Members Be Required to Donate? And she's absolutely right. The main reason: ...because the two most powerful words in “ask choreography” are “JOIN ME.” Some institutional funders specifically require 100% board giving. Other donors, volunteers, and all kinds of stakeholders are encouraged when the ultimate leaders and insiders have skin in the game. (And show me a non-donating board member, and we'll likely see a sour micro-manager who makes every board meeting a torment of useless conflict. Not always, but frequently.) Now here's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
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A great way to do better fundraising is to be better. Let me tell you about something that's better. It's a line of blank notebooks called Moleskine. The small one that I use costs around $10. Pretty dumb, huh? I could get a notebook at the drugstore for under $2. And every time I go to a conference I bring home two or three little notebooks for free. Yet I shell out ten bucks for a Moleskine. Because it's better than the other options: 1. It has better features The paper is acid free, so it won't turn brown and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
I hope you read The Agitator's post that might this outrageous claim: Charities need more debt, less revenue diversification, less leanness (bigger reserves), and higher overhead. (Do The Opposite?) You might be thinking, If we did those things, the watchdog agencies, the press, and even our donors would throw a collective hissy-fit, and we'd be in deep trouble! But consider research on financial data from 130,000 charities from 1982 to 2012: Having a higher overhead generates 15% more program spend over 10 years. Having less revenue diversification results in 17% more program spend over ten years. Maintaining above median level... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Why do your donors give? Is it because your organization is awesome and doing a great job at something important? Yes, but not really. The real reason they give is something inside their own heads, according to the Better Fundraising Blog at People Make Donations to Tell Ourselves... Here's why they give: You and I make donations in order to tell ourselves who we are. Of course, you need to be awesome. You owe that to your cause, yourself, and your donors. But when it comes to asking, you are on your donors' turf. And you'll do a lot better... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
One of the fun things about having a blog is that people you don't know ask questions. That gives a sort of insight to what is puzzling and worrying people in the fundraising industry. Here are some of the most interesting questions I've been asked lately: When a donor gives, how long should I wait before sending another appeal? We just hired a digital specialist who says we should have completely different fundraising program online than we do in the mail. Is that a good idea? Our walkathon is super successful, bringing in hundreds of new donors every year. But... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Want to avoid some painful and expensive fundraising mistakes? Check out this post from YUCKS Enterprises, at 5 Universal Truths About Fundraising: Donors are not ATMs. It would be easier if they were just machines -- you just punch in a code and money comes out. But they are human beings. If you want them to give, you need to treat them as human. That means listen to them. Show them how your cause connects with their values. Be thankful. Show them they matter. People have the Right to Say No. In fact, most donors, most of the time do... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
ICYMI: the 5 most-read Future Fundraising Now blog posts from the month of May: When we write like robots An easy email welcome series that will help you keep your donors Try the "Grandmother Question" to improve your fundraising Why you should "preach to the choir" What your fundraising can learn about being relevant from Adele Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Easier to read, more likely to raise money. It's pretty simple, but you might not know that to read a lot of fundraising these days. It mimics that turgid style of academic writing, with long, complex sentences and always-choose-the-longer-word vocabulary. Some fundraisers apparently think that makes them look smart or sophisticated. It actually makes them look worried about their organization's future. Because writing that way steeply lowers response. A recent test, reported in We Don't Write So Good, a free ebook from NextAfter and DonorVoice (available for download, registration required) found the following disturbing, though unsurprising result: ... by lowering... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
There was a discussion on Twitter about the word partner, used as a verb. As in, "Will you partner with us on this important project?" Lisa Sargent was advising against it. I think any real writer (like Lisa) has a flinch reaction to partner as a verb, because it's abstract and jargony. But someone else in the conversation noted that he uses it all the time in fundraising, and is doing just fine, thank you. Which viewpoint is correct? Is partner-as-verb terrible for fundraising -- or harmless, maybe even good? I've never tested it. But I've tested a lot of... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
In fundraising, the Big Lie of the decade (actually the last couple of decades) is that direct mail is dying. It's not. It's more difficult (and expensive) than it used to be, but it's still a powerful way to stay connected with donors. If you're avoiding direct mail or just barely dabbling in it, check out this useful post from Common Sense for Uncommon Fundraising, at Don’t Be Afraid to Try Direct Response: Plan your entire direct response activity before you begin. Direct mail works best when it works with other channels. When you plan your mailing, make sure you... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
I saw a trailer for a movie the other day, and it had one line that whacked me in the head: One character says to another: "We thank you for your support." The line is delivered for laughs, with a syrupy delivery that no normal person would ever use with another normal person -- the stilted wording making it clearly a rather savage form of sarcasm. It whacked me because I see those exact words and similar ones all the time. Said in all sincerity by nonprofits I respect. I've written phrases like that myself: That clueless, awkward, not-quite-human language... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
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What do big-name celebrities have that we don't have? Why does someone like Adele seemingly succeed by just "being herself," while fundraisers have to figure out donors and become relevant to them. Are we missing something? What can we learn from Adele? Culture for Hire has some thoughts, at Egocentric marketing: Why pop stars get a free pass, and how to avoid it. The "egocentric marketing" of pop starts looks effortless, like all they have to do is show up and display as much of themselves as possible, and people will pay attention. That's an illusion. As Culture for Hire... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
"Preaching to the choir" usually means doing something you don't really need to do. Those folks in the choir -- they're already on board with your message. They don't need to be told. Focus on the other people, the ones who aren't yet with you! Well, no. Says Seth Godin at Preaching to the choir: If your work is worth doing, it’s worth preaching to the choir. The choir is exactly who you should preach to, precisely because they are already on board. They understand your message. They get it. They are predisposed to take action. All those other people?... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
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It doesn't feel good to acknowledge it, but we fundraisers produce a steady stream of ephemera: Stuff that only matters for a while, then becomes useless. Like tickets stubs from a show you went to last week. Or yesterday's grocery receipt. These things are useful for a short time, then they turn into garbage. Don't feel bad about it. But be realistic. Even the most ephemeral ephemera is useful. The key to fundraising success is to make sure you really grab that brief moment of usefulness before your fundraising turns into junk... Make sure it grabs attention. Make sure it's... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
Getting donors is hard. Keeping donors is almost as hard -- and it's the name of the game. Repeat donors are who really fund your organization, and the longer they keep giving, the better it gets. That's why you should put a lot of your time and energy on donor retention. Here's a helpful post from Keela, at 6 Essential Strategies to Improve Donor Retention: Personalize their experience. Call them by their name. Talk to them about what they care about. Connect on the basis of what you know about them. Organize activities. How can donors interact with you other... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
A large majority of first-time donors will never give a second time. You went to all that trouble and expense to bring them on board -- for nothing. This is one of the central forms of disfunction in fundraising. It's a factor we should constantly work on. Here's a post from Wired Impact focusing on things that often go wrong when donors give on line, at Why Donors Stop Giving: 5 Red Flags in Your Post-Donation Process: Your donation experience is purely transactional. Treat each donation as a relational exchange, not just a monetary transaction. Don't just tell them their... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
You aren't asking the donor to do something specific and concrete. Your message doesn't repeat the call to action a few times. Your message talks only about your organization, not about the donor -- her values, her aspirations. Your message is trying to educate the donor until she understands well enough to donate. Your message is rational, and not emotional. Your message includes more than one very large number. Photos in your message (if any) don't tell the same story as the words. Your message has been approved by a committee of more than five people. (This post first appeared... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now
The quickest way to lose a new donor is to go silent on them after they give. The best way to cement the new relationship is to have a plan for what follows a donation. Here's an easy 5-part email welcome series for online donors, from the Impact Communications Blog, at Don’t Follow Donations with Silence: 0-24 hours after gift: Simple message of gratitude. 1-3 days after gift: First-person story about the impact of the donation. 1 week after gift: Ask the donor to take another action, such as complete a survey, sign a petition, attend an event, or share... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2022 at Future Fundraising Now