I don’t compile a list like this every year, but this year was different.
It marked a shift in the direction of my content, because… “business as usual” seemed out of sync with the times we found ourselves in.
So this year I’m going to summarize my writing of the year by sharing the articles that most resonated with readers out of the 70+ I created for 2020, including some popular oldies.
In case you missed them, here are last year’s blog posts with the most views, according to Google Analytics.
Plus, at the end, I’m sharing some photos I hope you’ll enjoy!
‘Top Ten’ Count Down
As the pandemic began rearing its ugly head, nonprofits became a little desperate for concrete advice. I tried to offer it here by sharing ideas I found ingenious. No need to reinvent the wheel; imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery. In this article, I also cautioned folks against abandoning their investment in fundraising and constituency engagement — at a time it was most needed. I’ve never in my lifetime heard so many people asking: “what can I do to be of service?” Nonprofits always have a golden opportunity to answer this question, but especially now.
It’s a little sobering to see this 2019 article was so popular this year. Perhaps it speaks to the numbers of folks who were furloughed or had their hours reduced? Whatever the reason, I hope it helped folks navigate through a time of uncertainty with grace and aplomb.
I love this 2016 article so much I constantly reference it (which may account for its popularity). It goes to the heart of your raison d’être as a fundraiser (aka “philanthropy facilitator”). I think this is the best title for a person whose role is to take folks on a passionate philanthropy journey and facilitate a meaningful ending. When I began to think this way, my entire approach to my job changed (I was an in-the-trenches director of development for 30 years; this epiphany didn’t hit me until somewhere in the middle of my career). Before, I was ‘raising money.’ After, I was ‘creating meaningful experiences.’
The evergreen popularity of this 2014 article shouldn’t be surprising, given how many fundraising appeals cause my eyes to roll back in their sockets with boredom. Jargon is insidious, and the opposite of constituent-centered writing. Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid all the traps once you’ve read and studied this.
The subject line is to your email as the envelope is to your direct mail letter. It’s what gets it opened! As email became more important this year (due to stressed budgets and post office delays), writing on this topic seemed more important than ever. Apparently you all agreed.
This practical article has been in the top ten every year since I published it in 2016. I’m super happy about this, because calling folks to say thank you is one of the very best things you can do to retain and upgrade your donors. So keep up the good work!
Last spring a lot of nonprofits figured out how to make lemonade. Here I discussed how to convey sudden changes to your constituents, and evaluated a series of communications from different charities. I wrote about transparency, honesty and finding silver linings.
Alas, the need to connect with supporters virtually will continue into 2021. Here I’ve suggested a number of ways to connect individually or in groups, and offered tips to (1) improve your meeting facilitation skills, and (2) be sure to follow up afterwards so your meeting meets its intended goal.
Even though I wrote this article three years ago, people keep reading it! It’s got some killer tips, borrowed from psychology research, to help you increase your donation rates by statistically significant amounts. I find this stuff endlessly fascinating, and I hope you do too.
Here I shared an example of what I considered to be a successful appeal that hit the right tone and spoke directly to its audience. I also offered an 8-point “communication audit” process you can use to evaluate any of your fundraising and marketing messages. Maybe apply this template to your year-end appeal to see how it could be improved next year. Or use it for any messages you have planned for the spring.
These articles were rated a little lower, but were popular – and important enough (IMHO) – that they bear a second look (or a first one if you missed them.
This article is all about why you should promote gifts of appreciated stocks, and how to do so. Seriously, research shows this will significantly increase you fundraising revenues. And it’s not a difficult thing to do. The bang for your buck is extraordinarily high here!
This is my tried-and-true 6-step formula for writing a successful proposal to a foundation. Follow this template and you’ll never have writer’s block again. Plus… you’ll win more grants.
You Give Me Hope
In this year of pain, turmoil, and loss there has also been joy, creativity and love. You’ve risen to the challenges and found much to sustain us and bring meaning to peoples’ lives. Through your work you have brought healing and hope to those who rely on your mission, as well as passion and purpose to donors seeking to be of service.
Whether you embraced baking, piano, art, learning a new language, poetry, classics, yoga, nature walks, meditation, or any other revivifying pursuit to go on with as much optimism as possible, you did it! You made it through; you helped others make it through. Knowing you were there, continuing to do what you do best in the face of unprecedented obstacles, helped me make it through too.
Thanks so much for being a member of the Clairification community this year. Your support means a lot to me, as does the knowledge you are fighting the good fight – working to make our world a better, more caring and more just place.
I just completed my umpteenth “Covid-19 Tree Walk” and am sharing a few photos below (look carefully, and you’ll see my husband’s head poking up under a Monkey Puzzle tree). Even with the virus raging through our world, nature remains determined to show us life goes on. With bursts of awe-inspiring beauty, affirming life’s resilience.
If you’re not yet an enrolled Clairification School student, there’s never been a better time to join us! Last year we even got together for some live conversations – fortifying and comforting — to cope with what was happening around us, and I hope to offer some of those again this year. Please check it out.
“There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.”
— Mary Shelley, “The Last Man,” written about a future hypothetical pandemic in response to Shelley’s own losses of children to raging infectious diseases.