8 Tools to Be a More Effective Nonprofit Writer

Nonprofit writing is particular, because you’re always endeavoring to persuade.

So it’s not expository writing, like a term paper. It’s more narrative. As in telling a story. A compelling, emotional story.

Even the best writers, nonprofit or otherwise, can use a little help now and then.

And today we’re fortunate to have a number of online tools to help us write with greater clarity and polish.

When I say polish, I don’t mean big words and complex sentences.  I mean polish in the sense of shiny.  You want your words to gleam! To jump off the page and grab your readers’ attention.

And, guess what often gets in your way?

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Why Would a Donor Give to Your Charity?

People do not give to the most urgent needs, but rather they support causes that mean something to them.”

This is the finding from a report done by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at the University of Kent: “How Donor Choose Charities.”  They begin their study from the widely-accepted premise that charities exist primarily to help needy people and the desire to meet needs is a key criterion in the selection of charitable beneficiaries. Interviews with committed donors found this was not the reason they gave. In brief, the study concludes:

Giving and philanthropy have always been supply-led rather than demand-driven: the freedom to distribute as much as one wants, to whom one chooses, is what distinguishes giving from paying tax. Yet the methods used to encourage donations tend to assume that philanthropy depends on objective assessments of need rather than on donors’ enthusiasms. The tendency to overestimate the extent to which people act as rational agents results in fundraising literature that often focuses on the dimensions and urgency of the problem for which funding is sought. The assumption underlying this approach is that donations are distributed in relation to evidence of neediness, when in fact much giving could be described as ‘taste-based’ rather than ‘needs-based’.

If there was ever a time to commit to finding out more about the folks on your mailing list so you know what floats their boats, this report indicates that time is decidedly NOW. Otherwise, you’re just ‘spraying and praying’ as you buy into the conceit that “if only” folks knew about the need we address they would give.  Because they “should.” That’s not why folks give.

In fact, the study cites four criteria that influenced donor decision making, and they are not based on meeting your or your clients’ needs.

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Create 5 Donor Experiences to Boost Online Fundraising

How do you create loyal donors? By creating satisfying engagement and amazing experiences.

At. Every. Step. Of…

The. Donor. Journey.

This is the trek you facilitate.  You’re a bit of a Donor Sherpa.  The way you lead will impact whether, and how long, donors will follow. Every step of the journey is important.

How carefully are you thinking through each step?

No matter what you do, the steps exist.  Your donor has to step through them. Forwards or backwards. Upwards or downwards.

Ascertain what these steps look like for your organization’s donors. Are they leading folks onward and upward? Or are they forbidding, dangerous and inherently unenticing? Honestly assess whether the journey is one that is donor-centered. Or one that is all about you, your convenience and your needs.

Before we get started with the creation of five donor experiences to boost online fundraising, I’d like you to being with one “to do.”

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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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Top 10 Nonprofit Monthly Recurring Gift Strategies

If a monthly giving program is not one of your key strategic annual fundraising strategies, this is the year you should add it to your development work plan.

Why?

It’s your secret to being sustainable, short-and long-term. Because recurring donors give more and stay more loyal over time.

These donors can become a reliable source of predictable annual revenue that minimizes stress and uncertainty.

This is something you should seriously consider, don’t you think?

And it’s really not rocket science.  It’s something you can and should do. And I’m about to give you a step-by-step process to help you maximize your annual contribution revenues.

Should you have any doubt that this will yield impressive results, take a look at

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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?

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Don’t Eschew Small Gift Affinity Fundraising

Did I ever tell you about the fortuitous happenstance that taught me about the power of small gift fundraising? A few years ago I went to research something online. Not surprisingly, I ended up viewing the first entry Google gave me – which was on Wikipedia.

As luck would have it, and to my delight, I ran into an awesome fundraising campaign. [This is an occupational hazard with fundraisers. We actually like and admire things like pledge breaks when they’re done well!]

Here’s what I found superimposed at the top of the screen:

DEAR WIKIPEDIA READERS: To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this right now gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. We’re a small non-profit with costs of a top 5 website: servers, staff and programs. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.

I was then given the option to make a one-time gift of $3, $5, $30 or $50, or a monthly gift of $10, $20, $100 or other.

It’s not all about major gifts for everyone.

The Wikipedia campaign serves as a great reminder. Even though many nonprofits survive by the grace of 3% of their donors providing 97% of their contributed income (or something closer to the 80/20 rule) there are indeed nonprofits that are exceptions to this rule

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How Positive Feedback Boosts Nonprofit Fundraising

Recognition. Appreciation. Acknowledgment. Gratitude.

Psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, economists and historians have often studied and documented this phenomenon. It’s part of our quest for meaning and connection.

  • Darwin talked about “survival of the most loving.” Communities who took care of each other were the “fit” ones.  Similarly, those members most sensitive to group feedback survived. It’s difficult to make it alone.
  • Maslow talked about the need for love, community, esteem and self-actualized identification with a higher purpose.
  • Psychologist Matthew Lieberman, in “Social, Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect,” writes about how MRI scans reflect that our brains are hard-wired to respond to positive recognition from others.

I like the way

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