man thinking

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?

Clairity Click-it: Databases; Content; Leadership; Free Stuff; Learning Opportunity

 

Mouse with computer mousee
Click it!

I’ve got some really cool links for this first week of September. I try to find stuff I think you may not be seeing through your regular channels because it’s fun to get new perspectives. I especially love to find folks who come from other disciplines and see how nonprofits might apply some of their thoughts — art and science — to fundraising, marketing, management and leadership.  Plus you’ll find some free resources and a new learning opportunity (scroll to the bottom). Let’s begin…

Clairity Click-it: Looking Forward to 2015 Edition w/Board, E.D. and Staff Roles, Social Media; Content Marketing; Donor Databases

Today I’ve got my looking forward into 2015 edition with some ideas as you’re continuing to make your plans (aka New Year’s resolutions) to get you off on the right foot and assure you blast through your 2015 goals and objectives (I know, it usually comes on Friday, but I was playing hooky last week). I’ve also got some of the best posts from around the web that you may have overlooked last year.

Plus don’t miss the announcement of 40+ FREE nonprofit webinars at the end!

Before we begin, please accept my personal best wishes for a year ahead that brings many blessings, both to you and your nonprofit. May you wish upon a star… and have anything your heart desires come true for you.

Labor Day Week-end Clairity Click-it: Planning/Calendaring, Development Director Mistakes, Time Management, Writing, Psychology, Gratitude

First, some words:

  1. Time to say thank you for your labors.  And thank you for reading Clairification. Your work inspires me and truly creates a more caring community and better, more humane world. Your readership makes my days, months and year. Truly, I appreciate you. Please… rest, reflect and recharge this week-end. You deserve it!
  2.  Last chance to get your highest ROI fundraising management tool (see below). Yes, I’m charging a bit. But not too much (especially given the fact my prodigal son has returned and is eating me out of house and  home!), and way less than what you’ll get out of it. I promise. Guaranteed.

Now… on to this week’s great links…

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What App Developers Can Teach Content Marketers: 5 Tips to Energize Your Brand

Find a need and fill it. That’s Marketing 101.   Well, today some of the folks most clued in to what people want are the apps developers. Why not piggyback on their insight and research to enrich your content marketing strategy?  The key is to tie it to your brand promise (i.e., why you’re on this planet and what folks perceive your value to be to them). Find an angle that makes the trend relevant to your business.

End your constituents’ pain.  This is simply another way to think of taking the consumer-oriented approach that means the difference between failure and success. What’s bothering your community?  What keeps them up at night? How can you help? This is how app developers – and inventors, and successful business start-ups – think. 

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6 Ways to a Kick-Ass Content Plan for Your Nonprofit Blog: Part II of the C.P.A. series

 

C.P.A.? Yup. In my last post I introduced you to the ‘accountant’ theory of an effective blog content strategy.  C for constituent-centered. P for plan. A for accessible. You can review the C post here.  Today we’re going to talk about the P.’

For starters, you’ve done your market research and you know what your constituents care about (if you haven’t done this, look at the 6 actionable tips in the previous post). Now, take all the great topics you’ve researched and brainstormed – all the questions you’ve been collecting from your constituents – and build an editorial calendar for your blog. I’m going to give you some tips and tools that will make this really simple. Promise.

R.I.P: Top 3 Things Required for Content to be King + 17 Questions You Should Ask Before Building a Content Marketing Strategy

 

Is your content pushing up daisies?  It should be.  That’s the way to grow and blossom.   I call it  the R.I.P. Content Marketing Strategy:  (1) Relevance; (2) Ideas; (3) Plan. [Coincidentally, adhering to these principles should bring peace of mind so that you can rest easy in the knowledge you’re doing the right things (relevance; ideas) in the right ways (plan).]  So, to mimic Do,Re,Mi from the Sound of Music:

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R.I.P: Top 3 Things Required for Content to be King – And 17 Questions We Should Ask Before Embarking on a Content Marketing Strategy

Is your content pushing up daisies?  It should be.  That’s the way to grow and blossom.   I call it  the R.I.P. Content Marketing Strategy:  (1) Relevance; (2) Ideas; (3) Plan. [Coincidentally, adhering to these principles should bring peace of mind so that you can rest easy in the knowledge you’re doing the right things (relevance;…

Sign StaySafeBeKind

Nonprofit Crisis Response Tip-a-Day-DO-Dah!

Sign StaySafeBeKindResist the temptation to throw your hands up in the air because you’re hearing people are giving less now. While it may be true(ish), it doesn’t apply to everyone. And it doesn’t need to apply to your nonprofit.

Also, the fact folks aren’t giving may not be for the reasons you assume. In fact, one of the biggest reasons this is true is because nonprofits are asking less.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Recent research shows:

  • Giving is increasingly seen as good – as is fundraising. Even donors who have been hit economically are remaining remarkably generous.
  • Charities with little relevance to tackling Coronavirus will still receive support from donors that value them – as long as they ask for help (otherwise they’ll be perceived as not in need of funds).

It all boils down to a need to put together both short and long-term plans to connect meaningfully with your supporters right now, using the correct approach and tone. Towards that end, I’ve put together five ‘to-do’s – one for each day of the work week.  I suggest you put aside a little bit of time this coming week to consider how you might actualize each of these suggestions, if not in whole at least in part.

Ready for your five timely tips?

5 Winning "Today" Strategies to Raise Money Smarter

If you could only do five things between now and the end of the year to make a noticeable difference in your nonprofit’s fundraising results, what would you do?

I’ve been writing recently about five subject areas – key priorities for success this year, and beyond.  Today I’d like to offer one BIG “to do” in each area to help you hone in on some actionable steps that will move the needle and have a transformative impact on your results.

#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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Why We Stopped Building Pyramids: What Nonprofits Can Learn

 

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

The pyramids were built in Egypt. On the backs of slaves.  It took a very, very long time. The cost, in human terms, was untenable and unsustainable.

That’s why you don’t see many pyramids being built these days.

Except in nonprofits.

Where building the donor pyramid is still the holy grail.  Get ‘em in. Move ‘em up. Acquire through direct mail. Convert to monthly donor or sustainer. Acquire through events. Convert to mail. Up, up, up…. to the pinnacle of major and planned gifts!

Except for one tiny thing.

roaring lion

7 Things Nonprofit Major Gifts Programs Need to Succeed

Every nonprofit should have a major gifts program.

That’s where the lion’s share of the money is.

It’s a rare organization that has a mailing list large enough to raise a million dollars from a million different $1 donors. But most nonprofits do have major donor prospects hiding in plain sight.

It’s up to you to find them; then move them along a cultivation path that prepares them – and you – to make an ask that results in a win/win values-based exchange.

Let’s review 7 secrets that will guarantee your major gifts program is a success, whatever your size.

December 2020 calendar page

Last Minute Strategic Year-End Email Appeal Tips

December 2020 calendar pageYou are a philanthropy facilitator. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to persuade people to act now, during the most giving time of the year.

Studies show nearly one-third of all charitable giving happens in December. While you absolutely should be using multiple fundraising channels to get best results, right now whatever you’ve got planned for offline is pretty much cooked. So your best bet for boosting year-end results is digital.

What do you have planned between now and December 31st?

Network for Good and True Sense Marketing found a third of all online giving occurs in December, and more than 20% of all online giving for the entire year occurs on the last two days of the calendar year. And, among digital strategies, email rules. According to M+R’s Benchmarks Study, email was responsible for 16% of all online revenue for nonprofits.

For at least the last decade, the last week of the year – and particularly the last day of the year– have been huge for online fundraising.

To boost your year-end fundraising success, you need to craft an email offer your donor can’t refuse.

How will you best convey your offer?

In a nutshell, you need three things for any fundraising offer:

  1. Problem you’re addressing — made real and relevant to the prospective donor.
  2. Solution you’re proposing to address the problem – with your donor’s help.
  3. Ask showing how the donor can help– the specific purpose and amount of the gift you’re requesting.

1. How to describe the problem.

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Happy Days of Thanks(for)Giving

Thankful for ThanksgivingThis Thursday folks in the United States will celebrate what I consider to be the social benefit sector holiday of the year:

So it’s time for my annual Thanks(for)Giving post!

Just think about what ‘Thanksgiving’ means.  Literally, it’s a day for giving thanks for blessings.

Who, and what, do you count among yours?

I know when we go around the table at my family Thanksgivings, saying what we’re grateful for this year, most folks respond with a people-based answer. Sure, they’re happy about the feast in front of them. But they’re most grateful for caring friends… loving family…. and for being together sharing the warmth of good company. This year the company may be virtual, but the gratitude for shared connection will be the same.

Who are you grateful to at your organization?

woman waving magic wand

Magic Wand to Wave to Keep Nonprofit Donors Close Virtually

It’s a scary world out there.

Is there a magic wand you can wave to keep your donors close while living in a socially distanced world?

Getting up close and personal with donors has always been the gold standard killer strategy for generating passionate gifts and keeping donors loyal.  But we didn’t take the term “killer” literally!

Today it’s simply too dangerous for folks to leave home.

So… what can you do instead? Plenty!

Thanks not only to digital technology, but also to familiar tools like the telephone and snail mail, it can be pretty easy to stay attuned and in touch even when practicing social distancing.

Your ‘donor love’ wand still has an abundance of fundraising and donor stewardship magic in it, if you just think a bit creatively. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite ‘wand wave’ tricks for end-of-year fundraising season. Depending on who you connect with, and how you tweak your message, they work to:

  1. Acquire new donors
  2. Retain existing donors
  3. Upgrade existing donors

Consider your goals first. Then pick from among these strategies.

Even if you just do one of these things between now and the end of the year, you’ll boost your fundraising results.

Heart graffiti

How to Help Donors Give Astutely Before Year-End

I’ve written about some of the new charitable deduction opportunities included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed on March 27, 2020 before. But a recent post shared by Greg Warner of Market Smart — Dr. Russell James’ tips to help donors give wisely before this year ends — plus a recent conversation with a financial advisor, reminded me it’s a very good time to share with you again.

You see, there are several things that will impact donor deductions – THIS YEAR ONLY. It’s good for you to be aware of these as a fundraiser, because making your supporters mindful of these opportunities may lead to them making more, and larger, gifts to your organization.

Of course, you’re not in the business of offering legal, tax or financial advice.  And it’s easier to tell yourself donors’ own advisors will likely tell them about these new provisions. And that “this isn’t really your responsibility.” Yet…

Not all of your donors have their own accountants or financial advisors.

And not all tax advisors are up to snuff, especially when it comes to charitable deductions. Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you’re too lazy to share this useful information?

The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator

Sorry about using that “L” word, but too many fundraisers (IMHO) don’t 100% understand their job as a philanthropy facilitator. Do you?

Your job is to do everything within your power to make giving easy, joyful and meaningful for your supporters. Everything. Doing everything means

Elvis

You Deserve to Rock Nonprofit Email Subject Lines!

Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

— David Ogilvy, advertising legend

Your email subject line matters. A lot.

So this article is all about learning how to rock your online ‘envelope’ – which is really what determines if your email will get opened.

When you stop to think about this, it makes a lot of sense. Your email subject line has a function! And its form should follow that function.

  • First, it must capture attention.
  • Second, it must convince people to open your message.

People’s inboxes are increasingly cluttered, so you need to stand out. Big time!  Really, you’ve probably got no more than two seconds to make an impression.

Do you think carefully about purpose when you create your email subject line?  Do you even craft it at all, or do you delegate this essential function to someone else, perhaps an assistant or someone in your marketing or digital communications department? Someone who perhaps doesn’t really understand the email’s primary purpose as well as do you?

If you’re like most nonprofit fundraisers and marketers, you likely spend a lot of time crafting the perfect email body copy, selecting images and figuring out just the right design that will entice someone to respond to your call to action.  Then, at the last minute, you’re ready to send it and hastily come up with a subject line.

Before Sending a Fundraising Appeal Do This, Not That

Hands forming heart pexelsHold the presses! If you haven’t yet sent your year-end fundraising appeal, you’ve time to give your message a once over.

I’ve got just the checklist you need.

If you’ve already sent your appeal off to the printer, you’ve still time to rethink your copy before sending your December follow-up or preparing your year-end series of emails.

Either way, taking the time to look at your fundraising message with a critical eye can help you raise a lot more money.

You see, there are right and wrong ways to talk with prospective donors. You’ve likely read a lot on this topic (I know I’ve certainly written a lot on this topic – for starters see here), yet it bears repeating. Especially as we enter the most giving time of the year. If you fail to put your best foot forward during the last quarter of the calendar year, you’re going to end up shooting yourself in that foot!

Many charities will raise a huge percentage of their annual fundraising goal during the next three months. There’s plenty of data out there to support this. Just check the infographics below.

Let’s make sure you don’t blow your chances and get your full share of the philanthropy pie.

Do This, Not That

Me wearing a mask

Plan ‘Random Acts’ of Nonprofit Donor Kindness, Especially Now

There’s a pandemic out there killing people.

What can your nonprofit organization do to offer a remedy?

Kill ‘ em with kindness.

I’m talking about your supporters, of course.

In order for people to do good they have to feel good.

Seriously, philanthropy takes energy. It takes the ability to step out of one’s day-to-day grind and think about someone, or something, else. And it’s more difficult than usual for folks to find this generous space right now.

You can help.

Make this the giving season.

I often say “If you want gifts you must give them.”

Maya Angelou says “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Let’s talk about what you can give – as nonprofit staff and board — to create happier supporters.

Notice a lot of folks saying “2020 is a bad year?” People can use a bit of cheer.  They’re tired of doom and gloom.

Remember when “random acts of kindness” was a thing? People would buy a coffee for the person behind them in line. Or they’d pay the bridge toll for the next car. Their reward was simply imagining the unexpected delight their gift would give to someone that day. Ever have it happen to you?  Ever try it?

Now’s your chance!

I’d like to suggest practicing some creative planned (not random) acts of kindness.

Something to bring your donors and volunteers a bit of good cheer. It can be as simple as letting them know what they did to change someone’s life for the better. Or it can be a modest, human gesture showing them how grateful you are for their support. This is something you can have fun with.  And the rewards will be huge, both for you and your donors.

10 Acts of Donor Kindness For a Pandemic, and Beyond

'Wearing is Caring' Street art

Fool-Proof Nonprofit Crisis Fundraising Communications Templates for Every Audience

'Wearing is Caring' Street artDuring a crisis is no time to be passive. Build a list of audiences, prioritize contacts among those lists, and develop a step-by-step written PLAN to reach out. With updates, engagement opportunities, little gifts of content folks can use, and opportunities to contribute and make a demonstrable difference.

Sharing is caring too.  Do you have a plan in place to regularly share what you’re up to, and offer opportunities for donors to engage?  Are you communicating with donors as if they’re a part of your family or favorite group of friends? If not so much, what are you waiting for?

Establish templates with talking points in advance of your communications; then let the reaching out begin. First determine your purpose.

  • Do you want to say thank you?
  • Do you want to simply check in to see how your donor is doing, and whether they have any questions about your organization’s status and work right now?
  • Do you want to ask them to volunteer their time?
  • Do you want to ask for a philanthropic gift?
  • Do you want them to complete a survey?

Figure this out first, because the more you know where you’re going the more likely you are to get there! If you’re light on staff right now, ask your volunteers and influencers for help.

These communication templates can be used for phone (or other online) conversations and emails. Got that? Conversations! Merriam Webster describes a conversation as “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas.” In other words, you want to prompt two-way participation on some level. This is not about you delivering a monologue or formal dissertation. Think of your communication as you raising an issue for discussion. You want to pique your donor’s interest and ask open-ended questions that invite their engagement.

Start with your top priority donors who have the highest likelihood of making an additional gift to get you through this crisis. I suggest

Two bears wearing face coverings

10 Top Nonprofit Strategies to Get Through this Crisis

The times we’re in are extraordinary, and ‘business as usual’ isn’t.  Having strong coping skills today are truly important. As is being more thoughtful and strategic than usual, because you can’t rely on the ‘normal’ playbook.

I recently happened on a thoughtful article I want to share from the University of Colorado, Something for Everyone: 25 Tips to Get Through Your Day. I’ve selected what I believe are the Top Ten Tips for nonprofits.

Use these tips to help you make the most of this time into which we’ve been thrust. See if you find anything that speaks to you. Apply to both your personal and professional life to the extent you can. I’m quoting from the author in the highlighted segments, and following with a number of targeted fundraising and donor communication strategies you may want to consider.

Not Today Covid 19

Anatomy of a Coronavirus Nonprofit Email + Thank You

Not Today Covid 19Last week I shared a number of real-life examples from innovative nonprofits taking creative steps to connect meaningfully to their supporters during these trying times. While staying connected, some organizations are succeeding in stepping up both their marketing and fundraising communications to the next level.

Sometimes this means virtual events, online conference calls and hang-outs and, yes, asking for the philanthropy needed to respond to urgent needs and stay in business for the longer haul.

I promised today I’d share an example of a straight-up email appeal.  Actually, it’s more than an appeal.

Because every communication you have with folks today must be more than business as usual.

It’s got to be empathic.

Let’s face it. All folks are thinking about today is coronavirus. If you ignore this fact, you’ll come across as out of touch and even insensitive. So begin every communication with some acknowledgement of what people are going through. Not just you. Them.

Check in with people and ask them how they’re doing.  This is actually always a good way to begin. We do it more in our personal lives (oddly, particularly with strangers).  You ask the clerk at the counter “How’s it going?” You leave the store saying “Have a nice day.” In fact, one of the hallmarks of a culture of philanthropy is you’ll find staff always asking each other “How can I help you today?” [See “Fundraising Bright Spots”]

Silver lining of this pandemic? Rediscover the power of empathy.  Take this opportunity to connect the dots between the problem you lay out and the solution with which the donor can be helpful. This is solid, basic fundraising – the way it should always be practiced but too often is not.  Use this opportunity to be better.

It’s got to be innovative.

Remember, this is not ‘business as usual.’ Already every nonprofit and their dog are sending out messages related to this crisis.  What will get your messages to stand out? Lots of things come to mind, including great subject headlines, compelling images and graphics, engaging stories and an authentic tone. All the basics apply.

Practice solid fundraising, of course, but try to add in a little bit of something extra. Novelty. Fun. Inspiration. Prayer. Social action.  Whatever is best suited to your particular brand and community.

Silver lining of this pandemic? Many of your familiar, tired strategies were probably due for a change anyway. This is an opportunity to reject the status quo, develop new skills and consider fresh initiatives that may, ultimately, serve you far better than the ones you’ve been using.

TIME TO SHARE AN EMAIL EXAMPLE: APPEAL PLUS

How Nonprofits Can Connect Virtually During Trying Times

Virtual meeting PixabayConnection is essential, especially during challenging times. When the going gets tough, we yearn to commune with people who will support us… teach us… commiserate with us… empathize with us… calm us… distract us… … entertain us… enable us to support them… and more.

Without connection, people can feel isolated. Yet today, as we prepare for the spread of coronavirus, we’re contemplating doing less of the things we normally do in person with others. And nonprofits are not immune.

What are you doing to reach out to your supporters when they need connection most?

Here are just a few messages received from local nonprofits in San Francisco within just the past two days:

Canceling a popular fundraiser that we depend on to cover the costs of keeping Public Glass open is not a decision we came to lightly, but it is critical that we do our part in helping to ensure that our Bay Area Community remains as safe as possible.

UNDER ADVISEMENT AND RESPECTING THE NEWLY ISSUED AGGRESSIVE RECOMMENDATIONS ANNOUNCED TODAY BY THE SAN FRANCISCO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), THE MARCH 12, 2020 SFIC MONTHLY BREAKFAST IS CANCELLED.

We are very sorry to announce that, due to public health guidelines from the Mayor’s Office, our 2020 Benefit Art Auction, hosted in a city-owned building, must be cancelled. This event is a massive effort, involving over a hundred contributing artists, a dream-team of volunteers, and many beloved business partners. We were ready to create a wonderful celebration of creativity! We will continue to explore innovative ways to connect our community, but right now, this is the best way to take care of each other. 

How about this haiku from my cousin, who is hosting his son’s wedding this week-end (at least as of this moment):

Last year seemed so bad

COVID-19 is now here

How I miss last year

While apt, missing last year and wringing your hands won’t help. As in-person gatherings are indefinitely postponed or canceled, as public spaces are closing, and as people are working from home, what can you do to make lemonade — and quench your supporters’ thirst?

heart with votive candles

Super Strategies to Spoil Your Supporters

Do you have some major donor prospects you’re trying to woo?

Of course, you want to start with your overall donor love program. You know, the one where you plan to communicate regularly with all your supporters – 4 to 7 purely grateful, meaningful touches for every 1 inspiring ask.  You do that, right?

  • Thank you letter, email and phone call
  • Donor welcome package
  • Newsletter with stories about outcomes
  • Blog with stories about outcomes
  • Token gifts (e.g., ‘how to’ lists; recommendations; new research results; recipes; discount coupons, etc.)
  • Invitations to free events

Good!

However… just the basic stuff won’t do it with major donor prospects.

You need something extra.

Something to really grab folks’ attention.

Something unexpected.

Something personal.

Without a little something, you’re left with just a dumb thing… like automated group mailings. Or really big ‘moves’ you never quite get around to. Or stuff, let’s face it, which just isn’t particularly thoughtful.

Winningest Ways to Woo 

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Easy-to-Implement Legacy Giving Strategies for Small Nonprofits – Do’s and Don’ts

A society grows great... legacy quotationYou’re stretched thin.

Competition for philanthropic dollars has intensified. You know long-term survival depends on strengthening revenue streams.

What are you doing about it?

If you’re like too many nonprofits, you’re missing what’s right in front of your eyes: legacy giving.

The lion’s share of philanthropy in the U.S. comes from individuals. Nearly 70% of people make gifts to charity during their lifetimes; only 10% leave a bequest. Why? No one asks them!

It turns out that the act of asking makes a huge difference. And don’t tell me you can’t ask because you’re too small or understaffed.

Just because you can’t afford (or aren’t quite ready yet) to mount a full-on legacy giving campaign is no excuse to avoid the basics.

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logo

Fundraising Don’ts vs. Do’s: Giving Tuesday Email +Donation Landing Page

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logoIt’s not too late to use these tips to help with your year-end fundraising.

This new “Do’s vs. Don’ts” feature is popular, so I thought I’d share another one that seems like a good ‘teaching opportunity.’ It’s a twofer, as I’ll discuss both the appeal and the donation landing page to which it takes folks — should they be inspired to click through.

Please note: Sometimes I can’t omit the name of the charity in the examples I use. Please know I’m coming from a place of love, and don’t mean to shame anyone. As with almost anything you can think of, there’s good AND bad in the examples I share. We learn both from mistakes and stellar efforts. Our own, and others.  Kudos to all who put things out there and make an effort. The only way you learn is by trying. Believe me, I’ve sent out some real clunkers in my time as a development director! If I ever use you as an example, and you disagree or want to clarify, feel free to contact me directly.

Okay. Let’s move on.

We’re going to evaluate every element methodically.

I’ll ask you some questions.

  1. Would you open that email?
  2. If yes, why?
  3. If no, why?
  4. What looks good about it?
  5. What looks not so good?
  6. Would it inspire you to give?
  7. If so, why?
  8. If not, why not?

First, I’d like you to think about your answers and jot them down.

Second, I’ll tell you what I think.

Let’s begin!

Do you think this email is a “Do” or a “Don’t?”

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logo

Fundraising Don’ts vs. Do’s: Year-End Donor Retention Email

Fundraising Do's & Don'ts logoI’m continuing with my occasional “Do’s vs. Don’ts” feature which I began last spring.  I promised whenever something arrives in my mailbox that seems a good ‘teaching opportunity,’ I would share it with you. I hope you find this timely example useful for your year-end fundraising ‘clean-up!’

Clean-up?  Yes. That’s exactly what I want you to do right now.

Get. Everything. In. Order.

Tie up loose ends so you assure nothing slips through the cracks before the calendar year closes.

Take a look at all your sources of support last year.

Who’s given this year already?  Who hasn’t?

Important: Don’t let any of last year’s donors lapse!

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Happy Days of Thanks(for)Giving

Thankful for ThanksgivingThis Thursday folks in the United States will celebrate what I consider to be the social benefit sector holiday of the year:

So it’s time for my annual Thanks(for)Giving post!

Just think about what ‘Thanksgiving’ means.  Literally, it’s a day for giving thanks for blessings.

Who, and what, do you count among yours?

I know when we go around the table at my family Thanksgiving, saying what we’re grateful for this year, most folks respond with a people-based answer. Sure, they’re happy about the feast in front of them. But they’re most grateful for caring friends… loving family…. and for being together sharing the warmth of good company.

Who are you grateful to at your organization?

Thanksgiving table

Not all Holiday Fundraising is Created Equal

Thanksgiving tableWho doesn’t love a holiday?

The very word conjures up notions of celebration, warmth and love.

If you’re a donor-centered fundraising practitioner, you’d be a fool not to take advantage.

Why not tap into pre-existing positive vibes to increase the chances your appeal will be warmly received?

After all, if you can channel something positive that’s more or less universally felt, this gives you a leg up.

It puts your donors in a giving mood using familiar symbols and traditions.

Except when it doesn’t.

A true holiday fundraising story

Why Donor Wooing Requires WOWing

cashier-Pixabay1791106_640The Unfair Exchange Bernadette Jiwa, The Story of Telling.

That will be eight dollars,’ the woman, who is carefully weighing and wrapping two serves of freshly made fettuccine for us to take home, says.

As my husband is about to hand her the cash, she takes another handful of the pasta from behind the glass and adds it to our package.

She doesn’t announce that she’s giving us twenty per cent extra for free.
She doesn’t even invite us to notice the gesture at all.
It’s enough for her that she knows she has added value.

We think of value as a hard metric—the anticipated fair exchange of this for that.

But value can be a surprising, generous, unfair exchange.

Something that is given because we can, not because we must.

Ah… value.

Wow, wow, WOW!

This is what all fundraising, fundamentally, is about.

A value-for-value exchange.

Yet one side of the exchange is a hard metric: The donor’s cold, hard cash.

While the other side of the exchange is something decidedly less tangible: Freely given gratitude from you and your organization.

Or at least that’s how it should work.

The Difference between ‘We Must’ and ‘We Can’ 

What does your donor love and loyalty plan look like?

Do you even have such a plan?

If the only reason you acknowledge donations is because you feel you ‘must,’ it’s likely your donors aren’t walking away from the encounter feeling much more than matter-of-fact. The transactional receipts many organizations send out are registered by the donors as “Ho, hum. Guess I’ll go file this with my tax receipts.”

This kind of exchange is fair, sure.

But it’s not generous.

Cookie Monster when his name is misspelled

Donor’s Lament: You Didn’t Thank Me Properly

Cookie Monster when his name is misspelled

Everything I learned about saying “thank you” I learned from:

According to Burk’s research from Donor-Centered Fundraising, more than 80% of thank you letters start with “Thank you for your generous gift of…” or “On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your generous gift of…”

Y  A  W  N

  • Want to stand out?
  • Want your donor to actually read your letter?
  • Want your donor to feel good about the decision they made to invest in you?
  • Want your donor to feel warm and fuzzy inside?
  • Want your donor to say “Aw, that’s SO nice!”
  • Want your donor to feel the opposite of bored?

Overwhelmed office worker

How to Calm ‘Busy’ Nonprofit Overwhelm Syndrome

When I managed a nonprofit team I inevitably had staff who struggled to meet deadlines. So I’d ask them to keep track for a week of how they found themselves spending their time.  My boss, generously, even made funds available to send folks to time management courses.

It seldom worked.

Because most traditional time management advice involves cutting out unnecessary activities. Some of this is possible, but many nonprofit workers simply have too much to do in too little time. The “unnecessary” is sometimes hard to find.

Recently I happened on an article in the New York Times by Adam Grant, Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management. In it, he talked about someone who couldn’t find any tasks to drop from his calendar:

This is going to sound like a joke, but it’s not,” he confessed. “My only idea is to drink less water so I don’t have to go to the bathroom so many times.

Oh, dear.

But Grant offered an interesting solution; a reframing of the conundrum.  He suggests that time management is actually part of the problem, not a solution.

2 Secrets to Prepare for a Fundraising Job Q & A

In my last article I offered 7 out of 9 interview secrets to prepare for your next fundraising job. Today I’ve got 2 more biggies!

 

  1. Pump yourself up
  2. Ask others to pump you up
  3. Strike a Super Hero pose
  4. Refresh your research and review the job description
  5. Prepare talking points
  6. Demonstrate how you’re a good cultural fit
  7. Avoid talking salary at first interview
  8. Prepare ahead to answer common questions
  9. Prepare ahead to ask important questions

 

Together, these 9 secrets are all you need to ace your next interview and land the job of your dreams.

Let’s begin!

Two business people meeting

How to Use LinkedIn to Give Donors a Reason to Connect with You

Are you Linking In?

If not, it’s time to take a new look at this social platform to appreciate it for the beneficial research and relationship-building strategy it can be for you.

I find it to be a highly under-utilized tool when it comes to building your nonprofit brand, establishing authority and credibility, researching and recruiting new volunteers, donors and employees, and building stronger relationships with your current constituents.

Today we’re going to talk about how to use LinkedIn to uncover new donor prospects and build donor relationships.

Not too much. Just four no-nonsense strategies. We’ll look at two more in my next article.

roaring lion

Unless You Do These 7 Things, Your Major Gifts Program Won’t Succeed

Every nonprofit should have a major gifts program.

That’s where the lion’s share of the money is.

It’s a rare organization that has a mailing list large enough to raise a million dollars from a million different $1 donors. But most nonprofits do have major donor prospects hiding in plain sight.

It’s up to you to find them; then move them along a cultivation path that prepares them – and you – to make an ask that results in a win/win values-based exchange.

Let’s review 7 secrets that will guarantee your major gifts program is a success, whatever your size.

woman helping man

Major Donor Fundraising: What to Know about New Tax Law

When the new Tax Bill passed, I wrote How Worried Should Your Nonprofit Be? That was back in January, when the impacts of the new law on philanthropic giving may have seemed remote. Now the end of the calendar year is closing in, so it’s worth taking a look at some of the ways you can help your major donors get the biggest bang for their donation.

Keep in mind, of course, the primary reason people give is not to get a tax deduction. It’s to see themselves reflected in a mirror as the person, deep down, they really want to be.

That being said, if you want gifts you must give them.  Help more than you sell.

And one gift you can offer is a little bit of wisdom about ways donors can maximize the impact of their gift and minimize the cost to themselves. Especially when you’re talking to major donors.  Because, for most of them, the impact of the new tax law will truly be icing on their philanthropy cake.

Elvis

You Deserve to Rock Nonprofit Email Subject Lines!

Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

— David Ogilvy, advertising legend

Your email subject line matters. A lot.

So this article is all about learning how to rock your online ‘envelope’ – which is really what determines if your email will get opened.

When you stop to think about this, it makes a lot of sense. Your email subject line has a function! And its form should follow that function.

  • First, it must capture attention.
  • Second, it must convince people to open your message.

People’s inboxes are increasingly cluttered, so you need to stand out. Big time!  Really, you’ve probably got no more than two seconds to make an impression.

Do you think carefully about purpose when you create your email subject line?  Do you even craft it at all, or do you delegate this essential function to someone else, perhaps an assistant or someone in your marketing or digital communications department? Someone who perhaps doesn’t really understand the email’s primary purpose as well as do you?

If you’re like most nonprofit fundraisers and marketers, you likely spend a lot of time crafting the perfect email body copy, selecting images and figuring out just the right design that will entice someone to respond to your call to action.  Then, at the last minute, you’re ready to send it and hastily come up with a subject line.

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Happy Days of Thanks(for)Giving

Thankful for ThanksgivingThis Thursday folks in the United States will celebrate what I consider to be the social benefit sector holiday of the year: Thanksgiving!

Just think about what it means.  Literally, it’s a day for giving thanks for our blessings.

Who do you count among yours?

I know when we go around the table at my family Thanksgiving, saying what we’re grateful for this year, most folks respond with a people-based answer. Sure, they’re happy about the feast in front of them. But they’re most grateful for caring friends. For loving family. For being together and sharing the warmth of good company.

Who are you grateful to at your organization?

Man running with money

#GivingTuesday: It Ain’t Over ‘Til it’s Over

The absolute worst thing you can do the day after #GivingTuesday is nothing.

As tempting as it is to let out a sigh of relief that it’s over, resist that temptation.

It’s not time to relax yet.

Nothing comes of nothing.

And a huge part of your goal with #GivingTuesday should be to strengthen your bonds with donors. That’s the real something you’re after.

It’s not just about the money you raise today.

Your goal with any fundraising strategy is to retain and, ultimately, upgrade these transactional donors. The name of the game in the business of sustainable fundraising is lifetime donor value. [Here’s a great book on the topic: Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value.]

Treat #GivingTuesday as a Special Event

Like it or not  #GivingTuesday is a ‘special event.’(And I don’t really like it, which is why I recommend #GratitudeTuesday as an alternative).You likely put a fair amount of planning, resources and time into this event, involving the attention of more than one staffer and/or volunteer. And it sucks time away from almost everything else in the week(s) leading up to it.

It can be a real drain.

Your job is to put a stopper in that drain so all your hard work doesn’t simply swirl down the drain and disappear. That’s like working super hard to create a delicious soup you simmer over the stove for hours, maybe even days, and then you take one little taste before you pour it out and start all over again with a new one. Endless work. And no one really gets to enjoy the meal.

Different size popcorn buckets

Does Your Nonprofit Promote Stock Gifts? You Should!

Guess what strategy you’re likely not using enough that really works to facilitate organizational growth?

And you want to keep growing, right?  Because if you stop growing, you wither and die. You either want to do more of what you’re doing, or do what you’re doing better. Or both.  And… you can!  You should!

Ready to have your mind blown?

There’s a super simple thing you can do to dramatically increase your contributions.

You can easily put this in place before the end of the calendar year — when most donors make their gifts.

Trust me. You’re going to want to read the rest of this article.

Because you’ll learn there’s one thing growing organizations have in common.

And it may surprise you.

Ready?

Not all Holiday Fundraising is Created Equal

Who doesn’t love a holiday?

The very word conjures up notions of celebration, warmth and love.

If you’re a donor-centered fundraising practitioner, you’d be a fool not to take advantage. Why not tap into pre-existing positive vibes to increase the chances your appeal will be warmly received?

After all, if you can channel something positive that’s more or less universally felt, this gives you a leg up. It puts your donors in a giving mood using familiar symbols and traditions.

Except when it doesn’t.