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Jeff Brooks
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The big giving month is around the corner. Starting with Giving Tuesday (December 3) and ending with the even bigger December 31, it's show-time for online fundraising! Are you ready? From Wired Impact, here are 9 Common Mistakes to Fix Yesterday: It's hard or confusing to give. Complex donation pages kill your fundraising. Simplify. And make sure it actually works. You send donors away from your website to give. Big mistake. If you're using an third party to process gifts, at least make sure the donor isn't being carried away to some site they've never heard of! You're not properly... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Future Fundraising Now
How many times have you heard this one: Someone -- often a board member -- looks at your fundraising and says, This is just like all the other fundraising I see! Followed by the unspoken (sometimes even spoken) conclusion: That's why it's no good. Think about that for a moment: The assumption is that fundraising that's like other fundraising is crummy, but fundraising that's totally unlike other fundraising would be good. Other than avant garde art, can you think of any other profession where that is true? When the plumber comes to your house to fix your sink, do you... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Want to read the best, most revenue-boosting, career-transforming advice you can get as a fundraiser? Here it is, from Michael Rosen Says, at Do You Want to Know the Latest, Greatest Fundraising Idea? To be successful, fundraising professionals need to learn the basics and embrace them. Doing so could add up to billions of dollars for the nonprofit sector. Stick to the basics. It will do more for your organization and your career than anything else you can do. What are these "basics"? Creating a workable plan and sticking to it. Meeting deadlines. Getting good at traditional communications channels like... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Future Fundraising Now
Your donors want to make something happen. I know that sounds obvious, but you'd hardly know that's what's going on by looking at a lot of fundraising out there. A lot (maybe most) fundraising calls on donors to support, join, or partner with an organization. That's fine. But that's not what they're seeking. They want to change something. Something specific. Something they care about. Whether it's feed a hungry person or make sure their favorite opera gets on stage, they want to help make something happen that accords with their values. That's why your fundraising needs, as the Bloomerang Blog... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Do you pay attention to your fundraising data? If you do, you are unusual. It's not hard to collect or have a lot of data. It's considerably harder to use it to improve things. Here's a great post at Know Your Own Bone about the nerdy roles you need to have in your organization to get the most from all that data: The Few, The Proud, The Nerdy – Why Your Organization Needs Data Advocates: Data needs an insider. Someone familiar with your program and what the data means. Data needs a storyteller. Even knowledgeable people often misinterpret data because... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Online fundraising is a lot like Halloween: Part fun, part scary. It has plenty of tricks and plenty of treats to keep you on your toes. Online fundraising "tricks" It's a "cold" medium. The way people read email is different from traditional media. It's fast, action-oriented, impatient. Not good for emotion and compassion -- the basic ingredients of charitable giving. That explains the response/conversion rates -- numbers that would sink the entire endeavor if it weren't for the low cost. The donors who really want you can (maybe) find you. The fanatics who really should be on your list can... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
How many times has a board member asked you a question like: Why don't we use all happy images and rewarding videos like Charity:Water? Why don't we just launch our own Ice Bucket Challenge, go viral, and raise millions? Let's just come up with an amazing tagline like "Just Do It." We'll be instantly famous and rolling in revenue! You know the type of question. They've heard one thing (usually out of context) about some other charity (or even corporation) and think if we would just do that one amazing thing, all our problems would end. The problem with the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Does your direct mail fundraising really work? Here are some common pitfalls from Get Fully Funded at 6 reasons why people won't give to your fundraising letter and what to do about it: The letter is too vague. If your donor can't tell exactly what their donation will do within a few seconds of opening your letter, it's too vague. The letter is hard to read. Tiny font. Sans-serif type. Long paragraphs. Difficult reading level. No underlining or emphasis. These things are barriers to reading. And few donors have the energy to climb over your barriers. The letter is dry... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Your organization might have a document that is very specific about what fonts you can use, what color palette is allowable, how much clear space must surround your logo, and what phrases you must never ever say. If you do, that's okay. But if that's all it does, it's of no value to your fundraising. Some people think that's what you do to create and protect a brand. It's not. For fundraisers, brand is what donors experience when it comes to considering a donation and what happens after they donate. This excellent post at the Better Fundraising Blog proposes three... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Excerpt from How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing Everyone tells you to avoid jargon. That’s good advice, usually. But not always in fundraising. The right kind of jargon, used in the right way, can make you more believable and persuasive. It can connect you more closely with your donors and help bring in more revenue. Jargon is nothing other than specialized language. People talk and write in jargon because it’s useful. Those of us who work in direct mail throw around all kinds of jargon: carrier envelope, driver, remit (accent on the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Boomers now range in age from 55 to 73. They are pouring into the donor demographic, become more critical to fundraisers every day. What does that mean for us? The Engage:Boomers blog says it means we'd better start telling Boomers more stories if we want to motivate them to action: Do You Have A Story To Tell? Baby Boomers Want To Hear It. Here's why: As we age, we tend to experience an increase in right brain participation in our mental functions. The right brain is as different from the left brain in how it sees and makes sense of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
If you want donors to respond to your fundraising fundraising emails, you've got the get them to open your message in the first place. Not easy in crowded and spam-burdened inboxes. Here's some research from the Bloomerang Blog that can help, at How to Get More People to Open Your Nonprofit Email: Create an aura of mystery You won’t believe how awesome this is going to be You can’t even imagine… Be useful I want to help you Here’s some new research you’ll find helpful Here’s a unique opportunity Get personal You are going to love this! This was made... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
There are habits we have in speech that make us seem more agreeable -- but when those same habits creep into writing, it makes the writing weak, less clear, hesitant. Here's a great post at The Publication Coach that can help uncover these speech habits that sneak into writing: Is your writing too hesitant? Expressions of uncertainty: I think, perhaps, I believe, or disclaimers like I may be mistaken. Hard to avoid, because they come naturally in speech, but to be avoided in writing. Hedges: Weakening words and phrases like sort of, kind of, somewhat. Tag questions: Phrases or questions... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Have you been to meetings that looked like this? Marketoonist The post has a wonderful account about how Steve Jobs valued and protected creativity: [Jobs] treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished. One of the best things you can do for your fundraising is ban creativity killers from the ideation stage. Even the best ideas are weak and semi-formed at their... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
I came across the following sentence the other day. It took my breath away... When he was eighteen and was leaving home for the first time, Ralph Wyman was counseled by his father, principal of Jefferson Elementary School and trumpet soloist in the Weaverville Elks Club Auxiliary Band, that life was a very serious matter, an enterprise insisting on strength and purpose in a young person just setting out, an arduous undertaking, everyone knew that, but nevertheless a rewarding one, Ralph Wyman's father believed and said. It's the opening sentence to the short story, "Will You Please Be Quite, Please?"... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. from FDR's First Inaugural Address, 1932 Fear in small doses can keep you out of certain kinds of trouble. But just a bit more fear can push you to make terrible decisions. That's where a lot of nonprofits live: in a bath of fear that makes them mediocre -- or worse. Let's look at some of the common fears and ask if they're really as terrible as they seem: Fear that donors will complain. This... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
There are three amazing things you can do in fundraising that are so powerful, you might think they're magic. Thing is, there's nothing magic about them. Like everything else, even when you know the secret, you still have to do it right. Here are those three amazing things, and how you can get the seeming magic boost from them ... Stories Stories hook directly into our brains. They are the best way to tell anything to anyone, and that's especially true about fundraising. But just telling an amazing story doesn't raise money. For a story to act like magic, it... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Maybe it's time for you to get a new job. Low nonprofit salaries and bad working conditions insure ineffective fundraising at many nonprofits. Recent research found that about a third of nonprofit employees intend to still be at their current job in three years. This is a problem. It means constantly retraining. Loss of institutional memory. Boneheaded mistakes being made over and over again. As Fired-Up Fundraising said in a recent post, Don't Carry Out Your Mission on the Backs of Your Staff: If you invest more money in fundraising then you will raise far, far more money. Funds to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Some good, clean fun over at The Agitator, in a post called Let's Burn Some Donors that asks readers to some up with a plan that will bankrupt a nonprofit they don't like -- but do it in a way that people won't suspect that's what they're up to. And boy did the ideas come up! Here are just a few -- from the post, from reader comments (plus a few of my own): Stop donor acquisition. It costs money. Pour money into branding. Once someone reaches a certain gift threshold, stop mailing them! Ban channels you don't like, such... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Excerpt from How to Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser's Guide to Persuasive Writing Uncle Herb, the family storyteller, kept three generations spellbound at the dinner table. We'd sit and listen long after the kitchen chairs became noticeably uncomfortable. You'd come away from an Uncle Herb story session thinking, "He's had such an interesting life." In reality his life was ordinary. He was a decent man who raised a good family in the American Midwest. He served in the Army but never saw action or left the country. He had a long career as a machinist at a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
There's just one rule for successful fundraising? Could be. Here's what The Better Fundraising Blog says that rule is, at The Only Rule? The people who are successful don't care whether they like the fundraising or not. They just care if it works. This is true. In fact, let me take it one step further with an addendum to the rule: Successful fundraising will make many organization insiders uncomfortable -- or even hopping mad. It always does. I wish it weren't so, because it makes life very difficult. And it causes thousands of organizations to raise a lot less money... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
It's those easy, common mistakes that make fundraising fail. Here are some things to avoid, from the Bloomerang Blog, at Donation Letters: 5 Scary Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them: Speaking to the crowd. An appeal letter is a message from one person to one person. You're not addressing an auditorium, so make it personal and direct, the way you would if you were chatting over coffee. Using Olympian language & grammar. Don't steamroll that chatting-over-coffee with formal, high-flown language and complex grammar that makes you sound unfriendly. Guessing who the donor is. Know who the donor is. How... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
If you aren't panicking about your year end fundraising, you are one of these two things: Amazingly well organized. In deep trouble this year. December is the Season. Between the various December Holidays (starting with Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday) and the tax deadline of December 31 ... this is when it all happens. It only comes once a year. So you want to get it right. Michael Rosen Says has a good warning for this important season, at 3 Reasons Why Your Year-End Fundraising Will Fail: Failure to Tell Supporters What Their Previous Donations Have Achieved. If you haven't been... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
Looking for some ways to build the foundation of your fundraising? Here are some great tips from Hands-on Fundraising, at 5 ways to improve your donor communication: Create a story bank. You probably hear accounts now and then about things your organization has done to help people or make the world better. Then when it's time to raise funds, you can't remember the details of that great story you heard! Make it a habit to collect stories (including photos and videos when possible) so you have them when you need them. Keep your data shiny clean. Don't let your donor... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now
I promise I'm not going into the politics of it, but there's a great lesson for fundraisers in a recent New York Times article: The Whistle-Blower Knows How to Write. That's right: A writing instructor looked at the whistle-blower's 9-page document with an eye to the quality of the writing. (You can read the actual complaint here.) Here are the whistle-blower's strengths: The whistle-blower gets right to the point. From the first sentence, you know what they're saying. Your fundraising should be like that: Stay away from verbal warm-ups. Get to the point! The whistle-blower uses subheadings to make sure... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2019 at Future Fundraising Now