Have you ever found yourself, whether by accident or design, face-to-face with a VIP – a Very Important Prospect – and been at a loss for the right words to convey what you do? It used to happen to me all the time. I’d run into someone at a cocktail party and find out they’re…Details
Remember learning your multiplication tables? The concept is powerful for fundraising!
People love to S-T-R-E-T-C-H their dollars.
This is the basic psychology underlying “BOGO” (Buy One; Get One free) and “2 for the price of 1” sales. For a variety of reasons, we’re crazy about getting a good deal!
If I get more for my money, that’s smart.
It’s frugal to find ways to leverage our family’s spending.
I like to use my money in the most effective way I can.
It’s easy to apply these desires – to be smart, frugal and effective — to the creation of compelling fundraising offers.
All you have to do is go back to third grade!
2 X 1 = Twice as much!
Why not put that education to use in order to create your most compelling fundraising appeal? An offer your donors will have trouble refusing!
When you show your donors how you can leverage their donation to accomplish more than they even imagined, you greatly increase the likelihood they will respond to your call to action.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to accomplish this objective.Details
Want content that raises money? Tell more stories.
Storytelling today is ‘hot.’
And why not? It’s the fundamental human activity – we even talk to ourselves!
We tell ourselves stories all the time to inspire, goad, cheerlead and persuade.
“I’ve been knocked down, but I’ll pick myself up.”
“This cake will be even better than my mother-in-law’s.”
“The deck seems stacked against me, but I’m going to fight; I’m going to win.”
“Tomorrow will be a better day.”
Storytelling is something people naturally gravitate to. We’re wired that way.
Stories connect the dots.
They are the connective tissue that turns otherwise random acts into important sequences.
- Stories invite us in.
- When we add our own imagination, stories begin to acquire personal relevance.
Does this sound like something that might be useful for your content marketing strategy?Details
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. If you fail to put your best foot forward, you’re going to end up shooting yourself in that foot!
That’s why I’ve developed this checklist to help you get your full share of the philanthropy pie.
Do This, Not That
As you read through this checklist the “to do” part of the equation may sound completely logical at first blush. You may think “of course we do this!”
Good for you. That means you’re thinking correctly.
But… sometimes good intentions get lost in translation during the executing phase. Because a lot of things you shouldn’t be doing creep in and tend to cancel out the good things. And this holds true in spades if you’re generating your letter through ChatGPT or some other AI-enabled app.
Grammatical is not emotional.
There’s nothing wrong with good grammar, of course. But sometimes the best fundraising letters break the rules a bit to come across as conversational. And they borrow from principles of psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics to ramp up the persuasion [TIP: You might want to check out this book.]. Your goal is not to show you can write a coherent sentence. It’s to move your message recipient towards a desired action.
So I encourage you to consider the “do NOT do” part of the equation as well. Then double check your work. Why? Because this stuff is tricky.Details
Did you ever wonder if there is a foolproof way to communicate with donors?
Actually, there is!
And it’s not about process.
It’s about another ‘P’ word.
Can you guess?
I’ll give you a hint.
It relates to the secret business your nonprofit is in.
You may think you’re in (arts, healthcare, human services, environment, social justice, animal rescue, education or whatever) but, fundamentally, your core business is something else. Something deeper.
Something that emanated from whoever founded your nonprofit.
Without this special something, your nonprofit wouldn’t exist.
Have you figured it out?Details
Take your writing into the stratosphere!
Want your writing to take off more this year?
Ann Wylie, editor, author, interviewer, teacher and more, is one of the folks I look to for writing tips. And recently she offered 8 tips I believe all nonprofits should take to heart. At least if you want to be persuasive and drive people to take the actions you desire.
You DO, right?
Allow me to share my favorite of Ann’s tips, together with my own thoughts on how they pertain – in spades – to nonprofits.
Some of these I write about a lot. They’re that important and, IMHO, rather obvious.
- Stop writing about “us and our stuff.”
- Hit return more often.
- Don’t stop at the subject line.
Still, it pays to keep these tips top of mind. Because sometimes the obvious stuff can be the easiest to miss, unless we focus our attention (a bit like remembering to smell the coffee, thereby more fully enjoying the experience).
Other tips I’ve thought about less, though I realize I do employ them a lot.
- Make it a metaphor.
- Steal a tip from the New York Times.
I share them with you to bring them into your conscious writing toolbox.
Top 5 Nonprofit Writing TipsDetails
Here comes my occasional “Do’s vs. Don’ts” feature, where I share with you something arriving in my mailbox that seems a good ‘teaching opportunity.’
Today we’re going to review a year-end annual direct mail appeal strategy.
We’ll take a look at the various elements; then assess what works/doesn’t work.
I’ll ask you some questions.
- Would you open this letter?
- If yes, why?
- If no, why?
- What looks good about the mail package? The letter? The remit?
- What looks not so good about all these package elementsl?
- Would it inspire you to give?
- If yes, why?
- If no, why?
First, I’d like you to think about your answers and jot them down.
Second, I’ll tell you what I think.
Really take the time to notice what you like and don’t like.
I promise you’ll learn a lot more this way. We learn best by doing.
Seriously, I mean it.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
Some identifying information has been removed for purposes of confidentiality. I’m not here to shame. Just to teach.
- Would you open this letter?
- If yes, why?
- If no, why?
Have your answers?
Ready to learn what I think thus far, and also see what else we’re working with?
What’s wrong or right with this envelope?Details
Studies show one-fifth of all charitable giving happens in December. For some organizations (maybe yours?), it’s as much as one-third. Year-end fundraising is not chopped chicken liver!
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 online between now and December 31st?
Did you know more than 20% of all online giving for the entire year occurs on the last two days of the calendar year? Among digital strategies, email rules. According to M+R’s Benchmarks Study, email was responsible for 15% of all online revenue for nonprofits. For over a 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:
- Problem you’re addressing — made real and relevant to the prospective donor.
- Solution you’re proposing to address the problem – with your donor’s help.
- Ask showing how the donor can help– the specific purpose and amount of the gift you’re requesting.
It’s really that simple, but let’s get a little more into the weeds so you’ve a better idea how to execute these three offer components.
1. How to describe the problem.Details
No nonprofit can afford to be an island.
As tempting as it may be to stay in your comfort zone, wearing blinders that enable you to forge straight ahead without noticing what’s going on around you, this is a dangerous practice.
Because sometimes the landscape changes dramatically. And when it does, your nonprofit could get left behind. Unless you’re paying close attention.
This has been happening a lot over the past six years or so, as news and social media has been filling our brains, stoking our fears and tugging at our heartstrings as if from a firehose. People who care, when they see devastation and misery, want to help.
This happens, for instance, when emergencies arise. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Floods. Fires. Drought. War. Over the course of my four decades in fundraising, there have been years I’ve had donors tell me “This year we’re giving all our extra resources to respond to… Hurricane Katrina… Haiti relief… the Fukushima disaster… the refugee crisis… anti-hate organizations… .” The list goes on an on.
In the face of such natural human impulses, what can you do?
When things outside your nonprofit’s doors portend impact for your ability to fulfill your mission, you need to be prepared.Details
Today I’m going to tell you how to create a fundraising appeal that’s all about your donor’s happiness.
Because if you can persuade your donor that saying “yes” will make them happy, then you both win.
Don’t you want to make your donor feel like a winner?
Don’t you want to be a winner?
Everybody wants to be a winner!
Sadly, most nonprofits write appeals that don’t create a win/win.
They write self-congratulatory letters that talk about how wonderful they are, and what wonderful outcomes they make possible.
They forget about the donor.
They don’t think about donor joy.
How can I be so certain this is the case?Details