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Why No Pain Trumps Gain in Fundraising Offers

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We really can’t stand to lose things – it’s something bred into us early on.

I’m about to clairify a subtle but very important point about what motivates philanthropic giving. After all, that’s what the “Clairification” blog is all about.

It’s often said that people give to people.  So true.

But people are funny.

People will often give more to people who show them the pain that can be avoided through their gift rather than the people who show them the good that can be gained.

Seems counter-intuitive, right?

Absolutely. So here’s a little reminder that people don’t always behave as you might intuitively believe they would.  Which is why fundraising is part art and part science. And here’s something we know from the research:

Fear of loss weighs heavier than hope of gain

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How to Magically Multiply Your Donors

By now I hope you’ve read the latest Fundraising Effectiveness Survey results and know that, on average, U.S. and UK nonprofits are retaining only 41% of their donors. This is abysmal, and it makes me sad.

When I started out in fundraising, many moons ago, I consistently retained 60 – 70% of my donors. And I thought that was insufficient!

While there are all sorts of reasons this is happening, what matters most is stopping the attrition before your nonprofit withers and dies. Because at these rates, after seven years you’ll only have 10 out of 1,000 new donors you acquire today. You read that correctly! Did I mention that first-time donor retention rates are only 27%?

Time for some magical math.

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Your Essential 16-Point Annual Appeal Checklist

Your 16-Point Fundraising Appeal Checklist
Get Your 16-Point Checklist Here and Take Your Fundraising Appeal to New Heights

Are you starting to worry about whether you’ll raise enough money this year to meet your goals? Are you concerned because last year’s appeal didn’t raise as much as you had hoped? Are you fresh out of ideas for what to put into an appeal to generate the giving response you need to sustain vital programs?  Fear not!  Help is on the way!  Just use this 16-point checklist before you send anything to your printer.

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7 Storytelling Tips to Inspire Nonprofit Donors to Act

Listen up: Have I got a story for you!
Listen up: Have I got a story for you!

As a fundraising professional, relationship building with donors is an ongoing process and communication is an important part of that process. Stories are a great communications tool that you can use to tell donors about their impact in a tangible and easy to understand manner.

Storytelling seems to be everywhere these days. Non-profits are actively trying to use stories to engage their current and new donors. Is your non-profit trying to tap into the power of stories? Perhaps it’s been a positive experience for your organization. But maybe you have faced some challenges.

One of the biggest challenges with storytelling is being able to tell a great story. A story that really stands out from the pack and resonates with your donor audience. A story that, ultimately, compels action.

Today I want to share with you 7 rules for telling a better non-profit story.

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Surprising Science: Do Men and Women Respond to Different Fundraising Appeals?

Male Donors Respond Best to Pitches That Stress Self-Interest, Study Says.

I came across this Stanford research study in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and I have to say I’m surprised.

The article claims there’s an “empathy gap” between men and women. Because of this, it advises emphasizing how the prospective male donor will benefit from their philanthropy, rather than highlighting the impact of their philanthropy on the beneficiary.

Hmmn…

I’m not certain the right take-away from this research is to smother men with “hard” factual data and women with “soft” emotional stories.

Because I’ve read study after study that show the heart trumps the mind – and stories out-pull data — every time.

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What “Chopped” can Teach Fundraisers about Productivity and Passion

passionOne of my secret pleasures is watching the show “Chopped” show on the Food Network. Today I watched an episode that just had me bawling at the end. It was the most heartwarming show I’ve ever seen. And it reminded me of why all of you do the work that you do in the social benefit sector.

So please allow me to share.

I don’t know if I can adequately convey the pathos I felt, but if you’ve had a chance to see this episode I would strongly recommend it. It will make you feel very good. At the same time, it will make you understand — even more than ever — how much work there is to be done.

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Can’t Scan it? Ban it! 10 Reasons Nonprofit Appeals Tank

Stop Making Me — and Your Readers — Work

If reading your appeal seems like hard work to me, than why should I bother? I work all day! If reading your appeal seems like a struggle for comprehension, then what’s the point? I struggle to understand stuff all day.

My brain needs a rest.

Even more, my brain would enjoy a treat. Something that lights up my pleasure centers and makes me feel good.

Does your appeal do that for your would-be donors? Or does it require them to put in great effort to get through it?

Reading may be a breeze for you. But it’s not for everybody. Lots and lots of folks suffer from a range of “reading processing disorders” that make it difficult for them to plow through a bunch of dense text.

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Plan a Donor-Centered #GivingTuesday Next Year. Start Now.

How did your #GivingTuesday go? I’m hoping it was a great success from your perspective, but what about your donor’s perspective? What can you do to assure your donors feel like the heroes they are for making your mission possible?

Right off the bat, make sure you have a robust gratitude program in place. Thank them. Then thank them again. All through the year. The more consistently you practice gratitude, the better. If you don’t have a documented donor acknowledgment program in place, now’s the time to begin.

Whatever you do, don’t just stuff your “#GivingTuesday donors into your database, send out automated receipts, smack your lips and count up the results to report to your board. Really, truly make sure these folks feel thanked for having done something selfless and special.

Then, next year…

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