Newsletter Strategies That Will Open Donors' Hearts and Wallets

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Your wonderful newsletter just may be a total waste of time. Even…

2 Questions You've Got To Answer in Your Year-End Appeal Letter

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It’s that time again – time to create your fall fundraising…

Dump the Cliches: Words and Phrases Fundraisers Love to Hate!

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Wow, I hit a nerve last week when I talked about my Least Favorite…

The Komen Fiasco: 5 Lessons Your Board Can Learn

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I’m sure you’re familiar with the Susan B. Komen fiasco.…

Why Did Doris Buffet Personally Answer This Fundraising Letter?

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You won't believe it but my friend Jacqueline wrote a "cold"…

16 Provocative Ideas That Will Raise More Money

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I am just back from an intense 4 days at the AFP International…

The 10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Year-End Campaigns

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When you plan your year-end fundraising campaign, how do you…

11 Ways to Make Sure Your Donors Keep Giving

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Everybody's losing their donors left and right. Are you holding…

What Smart Fundraisers Can Learn from Duke Basketball

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Since Duke has just won the national NCAA championship, it's…

Emotional Hot Buttons to Use When You are Writing Your Appeals

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I am reading my favorite blog today, the Agitator. The authors Roger Craver and Tom are "direct response" guru's (remember it used to be called "direct mail?" Now it's much more sophisticated direct response.) help button red photoThey are citing an article by Denny Hatch about the best way to write "marketing copy." That's the technical term for the wording we use when we write appeals, brochures, email broadcasts and our fundraising materials. Denny is apparently an old pro at marketing and copywriting. He says that we need to be sure to do the following things:

What We Can Learn from the Haiti Fundraising Effort

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Let us all be thankful at the outpouring of generosity from donors…

Best Nonprofit Taglines Announced

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Why do you need a tagline? It is your best chance to zap someone…

Where's the Emotional Hook in Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign?

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We all talk about the need for a visual and emotional "hook"…

How To Be Sure Your Donor Actually Opens Your Year-End Fundraising Letter

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Take a look at this stack of mail. Big Stack of Mail Isolated on White When will your donor even sort through all this stuff? Will your donor even notice your appeal letter? And what are the chances that your donor will actually open your letter? Let's see if we can stack the deck in our favor and increase the odds she'll open and read our letter. Let's tell a story: Here's Jane Smith, a long-time friend of the SPCA (insert your cause here!). She's harried. She's late to pick up her kids from after school care, and now she's rushing to the grocery story to get some dinner. It's a cool autumn evening, and Jane's hugs her sweater tightly around her as she drives home. She walks in the door, throws the groceries on the table, and heads to the mailbox to pick up the mail. She distractedly flips through masses of mail - junk mail, political ads, newsletters, bills - you name it. Will YOUR ENVELOPE attract her attention? Let's go on with the story and see what happens. Jane's busy but something in the mail stack catches her eye. It's an envelope in an odd color.Colorful envelope - 6 It stands out. She picks it up and sees that it's your return address. Then she notices that there is a REAL STAMP on the letter. Gosh, this must be a special letter. It has been hand stamped. Jane knows that this is no junk mail piece. It's something meant especially for her. Then she notices that several board members she knows have personally written their names above the return address. It looks a bit messy with three signatures up there, but she can immediately tell that this is indeed a special letter, meant for her alone. She thinks, "how nice of them." Finally, she notices that her address is hand written. Someone has taken the time to hand address her letter, and she feels pleased and complimented. Clearly this is a special communication to Jane. Calling hello to her husband as he walks in the door, she stops walking and OPENS YOUR LETTER. THEN SHE READS IT! : ) Moral of the story: 1. Use a bright colored envelope. 2. Use a real stamp. 3. Have someone personally write their name above the return address on the front or back of the envelope. 4. Hand-address the envelope. You can take it a step further and have something specially printed on the outside of the envelope. That also can encourage someone to open your appeal. Try these and you'll be surprised with more attention from your donors and more responses with donations.

The Magic Secret to a Dynamite Fundraising Letter

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I bet you are starting to receive year-end appeal letters like…

Warming Up Your Donors Before the Ask Yields Higher Gifts

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Yet another end-of-year fundraising strategy is here again on this chilly October day in North Carolina. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are reading this. The year-end fundraiStock_000007359010XSmallising rush is upon us again. This is the time when most organizations raise most of their contributions. So warming up your donors before you ask them is a mighty smart move that can dramatically enhance your results. Here's how: 1. First of all, I hope you have been communicating with your donors all year long, so they feel happy and connected to your cause. I hope you have been using postcards, emails, direct mail, personal letters, phone calls, newsletters, and your annual report to talk to your donors and treat them like friends. (And I certainly hope you are not relying on just a newsletter to carry communication this for you - studies show that donors think nonprofit newsletters are boring) 2. Be sure your donors have been well thanked. If you need to, before appeals go out, hold a thankathon to your donors. Or hold a "this is how we used your money last year" phonathon to your donors. 3. And here's how you prep them: As part of your appeal strategy, you should have several steps in the overall solicitation process. The first step should be a postcard, an email or a phone call letting the donor know that the campaign is about to launch. This preps the donor and helps them be ready for the appeal. The second step might be the appeal itself, with lots of additional followup steps that we will discuss later. But let's go back to the idea of a "warmup" postcard. Here's where you should put a smiling face or family who is being helped by your cause. Here's where you tell a story. Here's where you trigger the warm and fuzzy emotions. I love the idea of the postcard. You can also send an email with the photo, with a cheery message about launching the campaign and the wonderful things your organization does to help people. This kind of warm up can dramatically increase the gifts that your donors make when the appeal finally hits. Give it a try!