The 10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Year-End Campaigns

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

112 Tips to Help You Raise More Money by Mail

Here's a guide that can help your direct mail fundraising appeals…

# 1 Way to Get the Most $$ Out of Your Live Auction

You probably know that I like to study (and give!) parties -…

The Right Way to Follow Up Your Social Events and Tours

I'm teaching a webinar tomorrow on NO ASK Fundraising Strategies…

6 NO ASK Fundraising Strategies for Board Members

NO ASK fundraising strategies? What can I possibly mean? If …

Monthly Giving can be a Pot of Gold for Your Organization


[caption id="attachment_2991" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Monthly Giving can be a Pot of Gold"][/caption]

Monthly giving just hasn't taken off in the US like it has in Europe.

I keep hearing that the streets are packed with cheerful solicitors who will come up to you and ask you to consider a monthly gift to their cause.

And here are the latest statistics on the number of monthly gifts in the UK.

You won't believe it:

37% of ALL DONORS in the UK are monthly givers.

A Fundraiser's #1 Skill: The Lost Art of Listening


What are the skills the best fundraisers have?

You'd be surprised at my answer: Listening and followup skills are tops on the list.

My recent posts about advice visits and asking donors their impressions are all about listening.

"Listen your way to the gift."

Did you know that listening is actually a gift to the other person?

And who really listens any more?

How Advice Visits Can Open Any Door in Town


Advice Visits are one of my golden tools to help open doors to prospective donors - and to find out what's on a donor's mind.

Advice Visits are based on the old adage:

"If you want someone to give you advice, just ask for money.

If you want money, then ask for advice."

Asking prospective donors for their opinion and guidance always helps to create a closer relationship between the donor and your organization.

And we all know that good fundraising is all about INVOLVING the donor -- not just ASKING for money.

So Advice Visits are part of any good sustainable fundraising program.

Advice Visits practice one of my favorite fundraising rules:

"Treat donors like real people, not like pocketbooks. Ask them for MORE than just money."

What Smart Fundraisers Can Learn from Duke Basketball

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

A Taboo Subject in Fundraising and Grant Seeking


Today's Blue Advocado (a terrific nonprofit newsletter) shares horror stories "True Stories of Grant Seeking" about arrogant foundation giving officers.

It's a must read- especially for beginning fundraisers who need to understand the rules of the game. Unfortunately, many program officers of foundations act like it's their money to give away and can be awfully high-handed to grant seekers.

The article shares story after story of inappropriate behavior by the grant officers. The most blatant is the corporate giving officer who called to tell the fundraiser that their proposal had been received and was under review. This person then proceeded to ASK the fundraiser for a $250 contribution to a cause she personally supported. As we say in the south, "Lord have mercy!"

3 Essential Ingredients for Every Great Fundraising Appeal

Here are the number one, absolute essentials for writing a hard-hitting successful appeal: 1. Use I and you words. Keep it personal. Keep it between you and me. Make it intimate. 2. Give them detail regarding what exactly you need and exactly how the money will be used. 3. Show how the money will make an immediate and lasting difference. OK - an example: a ballet company can write and ask for: 1. general support, OR

Emotional Hot Buttons to Use When You are Writing Your Appeals

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:

How to Talk to Your Donors About Overhead and Administrative Costs

Donors are always carping on the whole issue of "overhead." They…

What We Can Learn from the Haiti Fundraising Effort

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

The Secret to Securing Long Term Support from a Foundation

The Agitator Blog this morning has a thoughtful and poweful discussion of what "cultivation" really looks like. And they totally nail the key to developing a long term funding relationship with a foundation. Andrew Kramer, of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) in Houston, wrote in a long comment about his strategies for developing deep relationships with his donors. He focuses a lot on foundations because he raises a large amount of his revenue from these types of funders. He says "I’ve learned that most foundations treat honesty and candid feedback about what happened as their primary form of involvement in our organization. They’ve never come to us and said that we should run our program a certain way, they just ask us to think about what happened and there is tremendous value in that since most individual donors never do that. "Even with our foundations, the objective is never just to look at them as pools of cash for our benefit–the real value is in the fact that they require us to think about our programs and offerings, and then again that throughout the year they require us–sometimes in very thoughtful ways–to measure and assess what we’re doing." Now here's a fundraiser who knows what he's doing! How refreshing to hear that the foundations are not being considered as just "pools of cash" - but they also bring an added benefit to the orgaization. How refreshing again to hear that he does not consider the reporting back to foundation funders as a drag - but instead as a benefit, because thinking deeply about outcomes, and measuring what they are doing is USEFUL! How many organizaitons are prepared to offer frank and candid feedback about what happened to their funders? Are you willing to be so transparent? Or do you sugarcoat things when you report back? It's really hard to be totally frank with a funder. Funded projects almost always have breakdowns and challenges - that's part of trying to change the world! And during a project, sometimes we have to change course because the landscape has changed on us. But I have found over the years that if you go back with frank and candid feedback about the project, what you learned, what you'd do differently, what worked, what the challenges were - funders love this kind of honesty and realism. And they will trust you when you come back to ask again.

The Two Things Donors Want to Hear When You Appeal to Them at Year-End

I hope you are in the full swing of the holiday season! And…

A Great Ask Event Ruined by a Slow Thank You

A friend and client sent me this email last week: "I am a…

How to Hold a Thankathon for Your Donors

Continuing in my theme of "count your blessings," I'm encouraging…

The Missing Ingredient in Your Year-End Online Fundraising

Here's some pretty interesting info from this weeks Fundraising…

7 Tips for Writing A Good End-of-Year Appeal

Here's a great blog post from direct mail expert and fellow blogger…

Top 10 Things Donors Want from Your Nonprofit's Web Site

Did you know that most donors check out your web site before…

Your First-Time Online Donors Are at Risk!

Here's a worrisome problem with online gifts. (Let's make our…

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

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

How Board Members are Helping the Boys and Girls Club Make Their Year-End Goals

I'm just back from the Northeast Leadership Conference of the Boys and Girls Club of America where I spoke yesterday afternoon at their Regional Leadership Conference. IMG_0117(Love those BGCA folks!) Here's what Dovie Prather, the Senior Director of Development Club Resources for BGCA Northeast Region, shared with me about their year-end fundraising strategies. (That's Dovie in the picture right here along with Glen Staron, Vice President, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Northeast Region, and me.) Dovie spends her time coaching board volunteers and staff in the various Boys and Girls Clubs in her region - from Maine to Maryland. She has worked with her share of reluctant board members who don't want to go on fundraising calls. But the staff needs the board members to help if they are going to make their goals. And face-to-face visits are a key part of her year-end fundraising strategy recommendations for her Boys and Girls Clubs. She's counting on those one-on-one calls for $1k or more with key supporters to help the Clubs meet their goals. (See my earlier blog post on Focusing on Individuals to Make Your Year-End Goals). We all know that we can count on individuals this fall far more than we can count on our foundation and corporate supporters. But most of her board members think they won't be successful in face-to-face visits. And she doesn't really want to send the board members out alone anyway. So here's her solution:

7 Way to Strengthen Your Year-End Fundraising Appeals

Here's a guest post from a smart colleague of mine: Amy Eisenstein. In her newsletter today, she gave us 7 ways to strengthen our end of year fundraising appeals. (Check out her webiste: Tri-Point Resources; she has lots of great information and an excellent newsletter.) Here's a dynamite list of things you don't want to forget! Amy says:2 "I spoke to a group of almost 50 fundraisers this morning, from a variety of non-profits in Wilmington, DE, and only a quarter of them had started drafting their year-end appeal! If you are like so many others who haven't started your annual appeal letter, what are you waiting for? Time is running out. You can't be late with your appeal this year, because people with limited resources are going to give to the first organizations that come knocking. 1. Create a timeline and work backwards. When do you want appeal letters to land in mailboxes? Early November is ideal, but anytime before Thanksgiving will do. December is late! The mail house will need a week, as will the printer. You probably need a week to write the letter, and a week for board members and others to write personal notes. (That's a total of 4 weeks.) 2. Contact vendors (printer and mail house) and get quotes. Select your vendor and discuss timelines with them. Make sure they can work under your deadlines and understand the urgent nature of your appeal. 3. Develop a concept and write your letter. Include personal stories, client quotes, and photos, when appropriate. This is your opportunity to tell your supporters what you accomplished this year, and who you have helped. They should feel the tug at their heartstrings! 4. Create a Business Reply Envelope (BRE) Don't send your appeal without one of these. Start saving ones you get in the mail as samples for next year. The reply envelope is another place to tell your story, such as your mission or more quotes. Ask for specific amounts, such as $25, $50, $100 and Other. Remember to collect donor information for your database, including address, phone number, and email address. 5. Personalize, personalize, personalize. - Segment your list. Can you send different letters to board members, donors, non-donors, and lapsed donors? - Always use Dear Amy, not Dear Friend. - Ask board members, staff, and volunteers to write personal notes to people they know (and those they don't). - If you can handwrite envelopes to your largest donors, you should. 6. Use "live" first class postage. This is not the time to use your bulk mail permit or postage meter. If the envelope doesn't get opened, it doesn't matter how good your appeal is. Don't let your appeal end up in the trash before being opened. First class stamps and handwritten envelopes exponentially increase your open rate. 7. Follow Up - Before the appeal is mailed, write generic thank you letters. Have a system for how they will get out, as fast as possible. - Implement a thank you calling system. Ask board members to help make thank you calls. A thoughtful thank you goes a long way in securing the next gift. Stand out this year as an organization that is extraordinarily grateful for the donations you receive!

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

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.

A Dynamite Year-End Email Strategy That Will Boost Your Results by 47%

And here's a smart email strategy for the last week of the year that will absolutely bring in more gifts. Remember when you get repeated emails in your in-box reminding you about something? I don't know about you but I absolutely need these reminders. I am moving so fast (way too fast most of the time - however I'm at the beach right now taking a day off!). And I can't keep quite up with my schedule and my to-do list sometimes, too. So God bless the email reminders! I am eternally grateful for them in my dim, over-saturated-with-media-and-too-many -ideas brain. So don't back off sending emails to the final group of non-donors at the very end of the year. They just may be like me - fully intending to make that gift, but haven't quite gotten around to it yet. So here's a great strategy from Convio, the nonprofit technology company,
  • Plan to send a three-part, carefully timed, coordinated email appeal at the very end of the year. Convivo recently presented a strategy that included -
* a "holiday support" e-mail sent on Dec. 23, 2008; * an e-mail stressing tax-deductible opportunities on Dec. 29, 2008; * and a final tax-deductible push on Dec. 31, 2008. According to Fundraising Success Magazine's email newsletter today, this particular campaign by Convivo, the nonprofit software company, resulted in a "47 percent increase in the amount raised online in December 2008 over December 2007, and a 109 percent increase in total income raised year over year!" (the exclamation point is mine!) In the Year-End Strategies Telesummit, direct mail expert Mal Warwick said these types of emails at the very end of the year are a "don't miss" fundraising strategy that will definitely bring in more contributions.

Five Tips for Online Fundraising That Will Bring in More Money at Year-End

I was reading today's issue of Fundraising Success's online newsletter…

The Magic Secret to a Dynamite Fundraising Letter

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

The Most Important Word in Your Year-End Appeal Letter

I received an end-of-the-year fundraising letter last week. And it talked and talked about this wonderful organization and all the good work it has done. It went on and on to tell about its impact and its outcomes, making sure the hot buttons were all pressed. iStock_000009339939XSmallBut one huge thing was missing. It never referred to ME, the reader. Instead, the people signing the letter talked on and on about themselves, and their cause. It was a very ego-centric letter. It seemed self-interested and self-focused. What did the letter writers do wrong? There wasn't a single "you" in the whole letter. Not even a "thank you for everything you have done to help make us successful." And not, "you have beeen part of all our successes." And not, "as you probably know . . . " The letter writers missed EVERY single opportunity to refer back to me, the donor and reader. They focused only on themselves and their own agenda. My reaction?