Clairity Click-it: Social Media Engagement; Blogging Tips; Creativity; Science of Persuasion

One of my favorite things to do is to raid the halls of business blogs to see what they’re doing that should be applied to nonprofit businesses. Sadly, we still seem to be last to the party when it comes to really thinking outside the box, adopting tried-and-true best practices (I don’t mean the shiniest new object; I mean stuff that’s working super well, creating lots of brand awareness and raising lots of money). So this week I’ve got a bunch of simple and powerful business tips for you… plus some stuff to get you thinking. I hope a light bulb goes off for you!

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Top 10 Checklist to Simplify Nonprofit Blogging

I really want you to blog. Did you know that Social Media Examiner’s 2013 State of Social Media Report puts blogging #1 at the list of the top 14 social media channels you should be exploring? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your blog is the hub of your content strategy (or it should be).  Build a blog and rock it. You’ll simultaneously put in place a content  strategy that will enable you to easily share relevant content across every communication channel you use.  Online and offline. There’s no better way to offer your constituents meaningful engagement.  So… what are you waiting for?

BTW: You can learn a lot more if you download my free webinar,The Keys to Nonprofit Blogging that Drives EngagementDid I mention it’s free?
Here are 10 tips to get you started, or to help you simplify the process so you can focus and deliver.

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The Keys to Nonprofit Blogging that Drives Engagement

How's My BLogging? bumper stickerI’m a huge blog booster for nonprofits.  So much so that tomorrow I’m offering a free webinar on the topic with the folks at Good Done Great.  I’ll also be posting a series of articles on this topic in the coming week.  If you don’t have a blog yet, you should get one. Pronto! Yup, I think they’re that important.

Here is an overview of what I’ll be covering in tomorrow’s webinar, plus I’ll have a special bonus offer for webinar participants. If you can’t make it, you’ll find a few actionable tips in this article. Plus you’ll find more actionable tips all week.  I truly want you to do this, and I don’t want it to kill you. So I’m going to give you some easy steps you can take to make your blog (1) doable, and (2) a super investment of your time and resources. I’m betting that pretty soon you’ll wonder what you ever did without it!

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Warning Sign: A Post-Trump Digital Divide Between Nonprofits?

Believe it or not, this guest post appeared originally on my blog 3 1/2 years ago. I happened on it today, and thought it was still appropriate so wanted to share. One of my Clairification School students, Matt Patchell, had begun an important discussion in our online Subscriber Forum about what he termed the current “digital divide.”

He was referring to the chasm between nonprofits who are facing the digital revolution head-on, adapting their strategies to embrace its’ opportunities, vs. those sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it will go away.

Folks, digital engagement is not going away. Rather, it’s exploding.

As of late last year, one study found 43% of U.S. adults get political news online, rather than via television, radio or print media. A report from the Pew Research Center found one in five Americans get their news from Facebook. For the first time in the Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans age 50 or older report getting news on social media sites. That is 10 percentage points higher than the 45% who said so in the previous year. And that report is now three years old!

If you continue to ignore the channels your supporters frequent, and the ways they prefer to receive their information, the only thing that will be going bye-bye are your supporters.

What digital means for nonprofits.

It’s a sea change in how your marketing and fundraising team(s) operate and cooperate. Adopting is a far cry from adapting.

What does this have to do with Trump?

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Show Me You Know Me* — 5 Strategies To Sustain Donor Relationships

Let’s pretend you and your donor are not connecting meaningfully right now. You’re not sure why. Could it be they feel financially insecure…  they’re worried for their kids… they’ve been let down by politicians… they’re just feeling cynical and/or hopeless? For whatever reason, things aren’t singing between you and them. They haven’t renewed. They haven’t upgraded. They haven’t responded to any of your outreach. They seem to have other priorities.

So, you decide to go to counseling to reinvigorate the relationship. The therapist makes a wise observation: Sometimes in life, one partner feels strong; the other less strong. In such times, the stronger partner has resources to support the weaker partner. Other times, neither partner feels they have coping resources. During these times, we have to depend more on ourselves, be patient, and accept that our partner is not currently in a strong position – even though we really need their support.

Are you being a support for your donor? Are you helping, not selling all the time? Are you being patient, yet persistently showing you care?

We’re in turbulent times.. Giving has surged overall during the pandemic, but there are fewer individual givers.  Some industries, like education, are losing support. As are many smaller charities not involved in addressing hot-button topics. And prior to the pandemic studies showed giving to be sluggish. Donors are less loyal. Donors may be distracted by emergencies. Or so-called rage giving. Or simply uncertainty about what lies ahead. So they’re giving less consistently. As a result, donor centered fundraising has never been as important as it is now.

People are feeling a need to be nurtured. In other words: Ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors. Recognize they don’t serve you; you serve them. They don’t owe you; you owe them.  Your job is to help them experience the joy of giving. It is through you they will achieve their most meaningful work.

Embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  Remember your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

So… what can you do to embrace the love and thereby keep your donors close?

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Nonprofit Social Media in Time of Coronavirus – and Any Other Time

Message painted on stairs - We are in this togetherThis is one place you don’t have to social distance.

In fact, this is perhaps the most opportune time ever to do exactly the opposite.

But, not to worry.

Getting up close and personal… getting connected to your supporters and potential supporters in an authentic way… this is among the safest things you can do to give people warm, virtual hugs. At a time when folks are missing human contact the most.

And guess what?

It will make people feel good!

And when you make people feel good, they’ll associate that good feeling with you.

This sets the stage for them to be receptive to your call to action when you’re ready to make it.

Social Media is Not a Stand-Alone Strategy.

Yet it can significantly increase the depth and breadth of your marketing reach.

You might think of social media as the new nonprofit advertising.

Per fundraising expert Tina Cincotti, donors are more likely to give, and stick with you, if you connect to them through multiple points of contact. In fact, they give at least 20% more than those connected through only one channel.

You don’t have to be everywhere, do everything, all the time.

When you think this way, you’ll never start.

Begin at the beginning.

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How to Improve Your Nonprofit E-Newsletter

Does your nonprofit have an email newsletter?

I’d rather see you rock a blog, but let’s talk a bit about your newsletter. Since you already have one, you may as well make it better.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

[BTW: If you don’t have an e-newsletter, go read the article above about creating and rocking a blog. Also read this. A blog can serve the purpose of an e-newsletter, and do so in a more donor-centric, user-friendly fashion. IMHO.]

Okay. Back to improving your newsletter. You can always evolve it into a blog (and doing so will make sense after you read the rest of this article).

Guess what most donors simply won’t tell you about your newsletter?

It’s boring them to tears!

Or at least most of it is.

Actually, let me rephrase. Not to tears. That would mean they’re feeling an emotional connection. Sadly, they’re not.

Why?

Most Donor Newsletters Are Boring To the Point Of Numbness

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Show Me You Know Me* — 5 Strategies To Sustain Donor Relationships

Let’s pretend you and your donor are not connecting meaningfully right now. You’re not sure why. Could it be they feel financially insecure…  they’re worried for their kids… they’ve been let down by politicians… they’re just feeling cynical and/or hopeless? For whatever reason, things aren’t singing between you and them. They haven’t renewed. They haven’t upgraded. They haven’t responded to any of your outreach. They seem to have other priorities.

So, you decide to go to counseling to reinvigorate the relationship. The therapist makes a wise observation: Sometimes in life, one partner feels strong; the other less strong. In such times, the stronger partner has resources to support the weaker partner. Other times, neither partner feels they have coping resources. During these times, we have to depend more on ourselves, be patient, and accept that our partner is not currently in a strong position – even though we really need their support.

Are you being a support for your donor? Are you helping, not selling all the time? Are you being patient, yet persistently showing you care?

We’re in turbulent times. Studies show giving to be sluggish. Donors are less loyal. Maybe they’re distracted by emergencies. Or so-called rage giving. Or simply uncertainty about what lies ahead. So they’re giving less consistently. As a result, donor centered fundraising has never been as important as it is now.

People are feeling a need to be nurtured. In other words: Ask not what your donors can do for you, but what you can do for your donors. Recognize they don’t serve you; you serve them. They don’t owe you; you owe them.  Your job is to help them experience the joy of giving. It is through you they will achieve their most meaningful work.

Embrace the true meaning of philanthropy as love of humankind.  Remember your donors are humankind; you must love them if you want to be a part of philanthropy.  Otherwise, you’re just transacting business.

So… what can you do to embrace the love and thereby keep your donors close?

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3 Content, Online and Social Media Venues for Every Nonprofit

Nonprofit fundraising and marketing is very different today than when I began. Yet not every nonprofit I encounter seems to have received the message.

That’s why I’m writing.  Because the road to success has changed more in the past five years than the preceding 50.

Why?

It’s been called a “digital revolution,” a “disruptive” force and the “end of business as usual.

Outbound marketing” has been proclaimed dead, making way for “inbound marketing.”

The world is networked digitally in a way that was, until recently, unimaginable to most of us.

So… what does this mean for nonprofits? Especially for small to medium-sized nonprofits who don’t have staff with titles like “Online Fundraising Coordinator,” “Digital Communications Associate,” “Social Media Specialist” or “Digital Philanthropy Manager.”

How can you compete to raise awareness and support among your likely constituents?

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12 Top Tips to Build Community and Broaden Your Nonprofit Donor Base

Philanthropy should not just be about big checks.

Last week I shared some reasons not to eschew small gift fundraising. Today I’m following up with some tips for building and mobilizing your community to find, sustain and grow these gifts.

This is important, because a donor’s first gift is seldom their largest.  It’s a starting point.

The majority of your gifts will be small, but the majority of your income will come from a small group of major donors.

You have to grow this cadre of loyal, passionate philanthropists by building relationships with supporters over time.

The lion’s share of major gifts come from previously small gift donors.

A client I’m working with told me 50% of their major donors began with very small gifts.  How about tracking this for your organization? Sure, some major donors come in at the top. But I’ll bet you a majority start by dipping their toe in the water. How can you get folks more fully immersed?

Reading on Laptop - How to Improve Your Nonprofit Newsletter

How to Improve Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Does your nonprofit have an email newsletter?

I’d rather see you rock a blog, but let’s talk a bit about your newsletter. Since you already have one, you may as well make it better.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

[BTW: If you don’t have an e-newsletter, go read the article above about creating and rocking a blog. Also read this. A blog can serve the purpose of an e-newsletter, and do so in a more donor-centric, user-friendly fashion. IMHO]

Okay. Back to improving your newsletter.

The real point of a newsletter is to stay top of mind with your supporters.

Why?

Because you want to keep them, of course!

Just like with any relationship, if the only time someone hears from you is when you want something from them, they’re not likely to stick around.

You need to woo them.

What Newsletters are For

The Best Online Strategies are Multi-Layered

Essential Strategies to Succeed with Online Fundraising Campaigns-Pt.2

In Part 1 of this two-part article I described the importance of:

  1. Beginning with your well-oiled content marketing engine and plan.
  2. Building an intentional donor-centered content marketing plan.
  3. Building an online fundraising campaign strategy that’s integrated with your content marketing plan.

Part 1 also included links to a lot of articles I’ve written previously about mastering online social fundraising. Some of them are on Clairification. Others are guest posts I’ve done for other blogs.

I truly, passionately, want you to master the integration of a robust online communications and fundraising strategy with an equally robust offline strategy. In our digitally revolutionized world, they are two halves of a whole.

You need to rock them both.

Today we’re going to layer on with some other important essentials if you want to succeed with your online fundraising.

Argentinosaurus Juvenile dinosaur

Blogs vs. E-Newsletters: What’s Best for Nonprofit Communication?

E-newsletters are dinosaurs.

There, I’ve said it. There are many reasons I favor blogs over e-newsletters for nonprofits. They simply try to accomplish too much at once. As a result, they tend to accomplish very little.

Blogs are best if:

  • You want more control over what your constituents read.
  • You want to spend less time creating content.
  • You want to increase readership of your content
  • You want to increase sharing of your content.

Today I’m going to tell you about just two of the reasons blogs out-perform e-newsletters, but they’re doozies.

And they accomplish all of the points I’ve just bulleted.

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Warning: Have You Caught Deadly Nonprofit Lemonade Standitis?

Lemonade Standitis is a bit like Zika virus.

Silent, but deadly.

It infects you, but you may not realize it.

The symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed, only showing up later down the line in a different form.

By then, it’s too late.

If you’ve got it, you’re no doubt leaving money on the table, working harder than you need to, and putting the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit business at risk.

Want to avoid this dreaded sustainability killer?

How to Humanize Your Nonprofit Work by Building Empathy

empathy word cloudI am so inspired!

I recently learned about Van Jones’ virtual reality experiment, Day of Empathy via this video (thank you, thank you, thank you to Nancy Schwartz for writing about this on her Getting Attention nonprofit marketing blog: OMG Experiment to Connect & Activate (Dream Corps Case Study). The idea is to use virtual reality to build empathy (i.e., to help people walk in the shoes of others) in order to motivate action.

The idea of using virtual reality to build empathy on a communal scale is brilliant!

And it ties back to Darwin’s theory of survival.

Clairity Click-it Summer Reading: Extravaganza of Free Nonprofit Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesI’ve got a cornucopia of useful practical tools to help you here – enough to last the entire rest of the summer – and then some! If you don’t have time to click through to all these great resources now, this is a “Click-it” edition you’ll seriously want to tuck away for when you’re ready. If you use these tools, you’ll be a lot more effective. Why just work hard when you can work smart?

NOTE: As I’ve done throughout the year, I’ve organized these articles into categories aligned with my top Dive the Fivefundraising fundamentals for 2016, and beyond. Plus I’ve added a few articles with some great basics and specific tips. And plenty of free resources too.  And now… let’s dig in!

Clairity Click-it: Culture of Philanthropy; Donor Retention; Online Social Fundraising; Annual Fund; Food for Thought + Free Stuff

My son got married this week-end (!), so I got a bit behind in my every-other-Friday publishing schedule for the “Clairity Click-it.” Please enjoy these links and free resources. I hope you’ll find plenty of food for thought, plus some useful practical tools to help you along your journey towards making the world a kinder, gentler and more loving place.

And here’s to all the June brides and grooms — past, present and future!

Clairity Click-it: Online Social Fundraising; Culture of Philanthropy; Events + Free Stuff

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesHope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Again, I’ve organized according to two of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s:

  1. Online Social Fundraising
  2. Culture of Philanthropy

I’ve also got some “food for thought” articles on special events, plus links to free resources and upcoming training opportunities. I hope you find at least one useful nugget!

#ClairityClick-it: Major Gifts, Donor Retention, Online Social Fundraising + Free Resources

Mixed #nonprofit links and free resourcesHope you enjoy these links, free resources and training opportunities. Usually I publish this on Friday, but it’s Spring Break and holiday week for many, so I’m on a wacky schedule. Again, I’ve organized according to three of the top 5 areas I’m hoping you’re working on improving this year.  This week it’s

  1. Major Gifts
  2. Donor Retention
  3. Online Social Fundraising

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What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Newsletter

Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?
Is this how your newsletter makes your donor feel?

It’s boring them to tears.

Actually, let me rephrase. Not to tears. That would mean they’re feeling an emotional connection. Sadly, they’re not.

Most donor newsletters are boring to the point of numbness.

You’re not making the impact you need to make to keep your donors, let alone get them to give more the next time you ask.

Why?

Let me tell you what I learned from Penelope Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising author, about 15 years ago. It fundamentally changed the way I communicate with donors.

It’s Blog Action Day: Raise Your Voice Against Injustice!

Did you know today is Blog Action Day? I apologize for two posts in one day. I usually send my curated links on Friday (and I did, because I missed last week), but I just had to let you know about this special day when bloggers all over the world unite, raise our voices and shine a light on one single thing that’s not going right in our world. And we talk about how to make it right.

There are, alas, always wrongs that need righting.

And, gosh, there are so many things. They seem to multiply like rabbits. It can seem hopeless.

But it’s not. We’ve proven that we can pull rabbits out of hats and make magic happen. Life has always been unfair, yet civilization has prevailed.

And lives have been made better. In large part, because of the compassionate work done through  civil society — the social benefit sector and citizens working together to right the ship.

Allow me to share a little story learned in my many years working for Jewish social service organizations:

There’s an old Jewish parable that begins with the notion that at one time everything in the world was perfectly balanced. It was “tzedek” – which happens to not only mean “balanced” but is also the root of  the word “tzedekah” ( justice) and the term for the money that is collected weekly by every Jewish community to take care of its poor. The goal of tzedek/tzedekah, throughout our lives, is to do what we can to get back to that equilibrium. That time when there was no injustice. No unfairness. No fighting. No wars.

In fact, the Torah insists, “Justice, justice shall you pursue.

Here’s to those who speak out against injustice!

This year’s Blog Action Day theme is the mother of all issues:

The right, and the moral imperative, to RAISE YOUR VOICE to speak out about any of the many injustices we see all around us. To shine a light on wrongs that must be righted — without fear of retribution. To look evil in the eye, rather than look away. To bring hope in the darkness, so that there will be light.

 

The case of Malala Yousafzai, the 11-year-old blogger who was shot in the head for chronicling the fears of schoolgirls under the shadow of the Taliban, has become a well-known cause célèbre. She prevailed. But there are thousands like her who are silenced.

This is a fight that must be won battle by battle. And the war is still raging.

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3 Ways to Integrate Your Nonprofit’s Marketing and Fundraising

You can't deliver your message today the way you did 10 years ago
You can’t deliver your message today the way you did 10 years ago

Avoid becoming irrelevant in the digital age. It’s revolutionized fundraising and nonprofit marketing.

There are so many different ways to communicate today that it can be dizzying!

Ground yourself by remembering that though technology has changed, people have not. We have the same drives… needs… yearnings as prehistoric tribes.  We long for connection and meaning. We want to find where we “fit.”

Philanthropy provides that “fit opportunity” in spades (or, more aptly, in hearts). You’ve got the goods; you just need to tinker with your delivery system.

Here’s how to embrace the change.

1. Let’s begin with your gift of content marketing.

content marketing
What is content marketing and what can it do for you?

Content marketing” is buzz-worthy because without it, you’ve got nothing. You’re just a box with nothing inside. Kids like to play with boxes; most folks — when they grow up — are looking for something of value inside the box.

That’s your content.  What you’re all about. The gift you offer the world and your donors.

Clairity Click-it: Nonprofit Social Media, Fundraising Ideas + Learning Ops for You

This week’s Click-It is nice and fat, offering a big mix of social media tips I’ve found for you across the web. Some are nonprofit specific; some are ideas you can steal from the for profit world. If your social media plan isn’t working, or you’re working too hard, check these out. Plus, of course, you’ll find some stuff to help you raise more money (we lead off with some really big ideas) — including some great learning opportunities (scroll to the bottom) you won’t want to miss!

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Want 17 Surprising Headline Hacks to Boost Click-throughs?

I know you’re working overtime to get more folks to pay attention to what you have to say. You want them to listen to you. You want them to volunteer with you. You want them to attend your events. You want them to support you. Where do you begin?

Get them to notice you! In How to Write an Irresistible Headline on the Convince and Convert blog you’ll learn how. I commend the full article to you. For me, here are the highlights:

Clairity Click-it: Get Outside the Mailbox

Today I’ve got stuff to help you get outside the traditional mail box. It’s a great way to communicate with folks – tried and true – but you have many more options in 2015. If you get stuck in the past you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential donors.

Did you know that when the telephone was invented people thought it would be disruptive and distracting? This is the year to seamlessly integrate strategic social media into all your fundraising and marketing campaigns.

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It’s Blog Action Day: No Blog Needed to Participate; Learn How – and Feel Good!

Did you know today is Blog Action Day? It’s a day when bloggers all over the world get together to shine a light on one single thing that’s not going right in our world.

We shine this light on Blog Action Day so that, together, we can fix things.

There’s an old Jewish parable that begins with the notion that at one time everything in the world was perfectly balanced. It was “tzedek” (balanced) – which happens to be the root of  the word “tzedekah” ( justice) and the term for the money that is collected by every Jewish community to take care of its poor. Our goal, throughout our lives, is to do what we can to get back to that equilibrium. That time when there was no injustice. No unfairness. No fighting. No wars.

Clairity Click-it: Best Fundraising Asks; Loyalty Metrics; Cultural Change; Maximize Time on Social Media; LinkedIn

Here”s your ‘Back to School’ Clairity Click-it. It’s a good time to learn a few new tricks — and there are plenty of them here for you to noodle on and sink your teeth into.  Let’s take a lo! Best Fundraising Asks Click-It: Your Favorite Fundraising Asks or Offers in Your Appeals? Kivi LeRoux Miller…

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6 Best Ways to Make Storytelling Part of Your Nonprofit Culture

How do you fill the brains of your staff, volunteers and donors with stories about your organization?
What better way to talk about accomplishments your donors make possible than through stories that portray them as heroes?

Everyone loves a good story. Everyone.

Which is why storytelling should be at the heart of your nonprofit’s strategic communications. I know ‘storytelling’ is a meme du jour. But that’s no reason to ignore it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! There’s a reason these phrases become buzzworthy. In this case, because you want to serve up content that’s relevant, attractive and accessible to your constituencies. Storytelling fits the bill better than anything else.

In fact, of all the content you can create, storytelling is your ultimate weapon and the most powerful means of communicating your message.

Let’s look at this a different way.

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To Blog, or Not to Blog? Only if You Do it Right. Do You?

Do you have a mature social media operation, or are you just a baby? Or a teen? Babies babble. Teens make it all about themselves. Are you simply using Twitter to babble? Facebook to say “look at me?”  Or have you embraced a more full-grown strategy?  The best place to start, and the fastest way to get there, is with a blog.

Next to email, blogs are the most mature form of social media.

 

They’ve been around the longest, and they’re pretty tried-and-true.

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What Nonprofits Can Learn About Donor Retention from David Letterman

If you’re not using social media to get and retain more donors, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Social media has ceased to be a nice little “toy.”  An “add on thing.”  It’s the thing. If you’re not hanging out where the majority of your constituents are getting their information, you may as well fold up your tent and go home.  David Letterman didn’t “do social media.”    ( See “Do you use the Twitter device?” ).  He’s going home.

Letterman  may be ready to go off into the sunset. But you shouldn’t be. You can learn new tricks!

Spring Clairity Click-it: Email Marketing, Donor Newsletters, Small Gifts Matter, Donor Stewardship

Yes, it turned to spring at 12:57 p.m. early this morning. It’s a good time to do a little spring cleaning. Clear out the mistakes and the old stuff that’s no longer working for you. Keep the basics.  Freshen up with some new stuff, or just tweak things a little. This week’s links for nonprofit fundraisers and marketers includes some of all of this.   Happy spring!

Clairity Click-it: Finding Donors, Power of Parody, Gratitude, Leadership, Content Marketing

Mixed bag today. From funny and unusual to serious and thought-proving. You’ll definitely find something of interest here. Take a lo! Finding Donors Click-It: Low Hanging Fruit. This cartoon from Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void made me wonder. How might this apply to your donor cultivation strategy? Maybe the reason you’re not finding donors…