Your Nonprofit Appeal Response Device, Like Cheese, Stands Alone

Farmer_in_the_DellRemember the children’s ditty The Farmer in the Dell?

At the end, when all is said and done, what happens to the cheese?

It STANDS ALONE.

Your fundraising appeal response device, whether a reply card or donation landing page, is very much like this proverbial cheese.

In fact, it may be the most important element of your fundraising package.

Do you treat it with respect?

Or do you focus the lion’s share of your time on crafting, reworking and editing your appeal copy?  Then thinking about your letter and package design? And then waiting until the very last minute to think about your response device, treating it like a nuisance or unimportant chore?

Way too often I see folks spend endless hours crafting their appeal, only to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to the response devise. This is a huge mistake.

Details
Book cover - Anatomy of a Fundraising Appeal Letter

NEW Feature: Fundraising Do’s and Don’ts — Spring Email Appeal

I’m offering a new feature of “Do’s vs. Don’ts.” I’ll run it occasionally, as ‘teaching opportunities’ arise. Please let me know if you find it useful!

Okay, let’s begin with today’s timely spring email example.  Do you think it’s a “Do” or a “Don’t?”

What’s wrong/right with this picture? **

EmailNO_StVincentDePaulSF

I’ll tell you my own thoughts in a moment.  But first…

Think it through yourself because you’ll likely get more out of this if you do.

Seriously, I mean it.  We learn best by doing.

Take five minutes and jot down your answers to the following questions on a piece of paper or your screen.

Details
Ask sign

How to Choose the Most Effective Fundraising ‘Ask’ Words

Words matter.

You know this when it comes to your personal life (surely you can hear your Mama’s voice in your ear). You certainly know this when it comes to political correctness (surely you know the words to avoid, at all costs). You even know this when it comes to your professional life (surely you take pains to avoid certain acronyms and jargon).

Well… guess what?

Words matter when it comes to fundraising too!

When asking people for a charitable gift, choose your words with care.

Which Fundraising Ask Word Works Best?

Here are some common ‘ask’ words:

  • Give
  • Donate
  • Contribute
  • Provide
  • Invest
  • Pitch in
  • Chip in
  • Participate
  • Join
  • Bestow
  • Bequeath
  • Leave a legacy

I have strong favorites, as you may be able to infer from the words I’ve boldfaced.

Let me tell you why.

Details
9 relatable reasons

9 Strategies to Make Your Nonprofit Fundraising Appeal Relatable

9 relatable reasonsThe inimitable Seth Godin recently posted some wisdom I want to share, because it applies directly to how you must ‘sell’ your nonprofit if you hope to inspire folks to join with you to solve the problems you address.

As is always the case with Godin, it is succinct. It’s also both common-sense and deeply insightful — critically so — when you take a moment to dig in a little. It relates to one of the most critical elements of any fundraising appeal:

The problem.

You see, folks won’t give to you simply because you exist.  Or because you’re nonprofit. Or because you’re ‘do-gooders.’

They won’t even give to you because you claim you’re addressing important issues or resolving a significant problem.

It takes more than that to capture people’s imaginations and inspire philanthropy.

The problem has to be vital, and the solving of it relevant, to them.

There are at least nine different ways in which a problem will capture a donor’s attention.

Details
Are you reading your major donors right?

Are You Reading Your Major Donors Correctly?

Some years ago I had the opportunity to present a major gifts master class where Jay Love, Founder and President of Bloomerang (and a board member and major donor himself) offered his thoughts on major gifts development from the donor’s perspective.

SO important!

The more that you know, the less they’ll say “No!”

The more you know:

  • what floats your donor’s boat,,,
  • what other things compete for your donor’s attention (not just causes, but also career and family)…
  • how your donor prefers to communicate…
  • how your donor prefers to be wooed…
  • how your donor prefers to be recognized…

… the more likely you’ll get a “Yes.”

If you can’t show your major donor prospect you really know them, how can they trust you’ll be a good steward of their passionate philanthropic investment?

We all want to be known before we enter into a major engagement.

Which brings us to the crux of successful major donor development. Not surprisingly, it begins and ends with the same thing.

Can you guess what that might be?

Details
Magician performing

7 Magic Words that Increase Charitable Donations

You’ve still got time to sprinkle a little magic into your year-end fundraising!

Consider each of these seven words a magic potion unto themselves.

  1. You
  2. Because
  3. Thanks
  4. Small
  5. Immediate
  6. Expert
  7. Support

The more of these words you use, the more powerful a spell your appeal will cast.

Each of these packs a bigger persuasive punch than you might imagine.

 

Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

Details
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.

Details
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.

Details
2 different frames

Framing Year-End Philanthropy: Behavioral Science Tweak

Are you framing your ask as an “annual appeal” or as “we only ask once a year?”

A growing body of research in psychology and behavioral economics shows how you frame your ask can have a big difference in your fundraising results.

Much of this has to do with how people mentally account for all consumer ‘purchases,’ including charitable giving.

Researchers have found people don’t treat all of their money (or time, effort or other resources) as if they have one big pool of it. Rather, they have separate mental accounts. When they spend resources they keep track of that expenditure based on the mental account it came from.

This has significant fundraising implications, so it’s important to delve further into this mental accounting principle.

Details