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My #1 Year-End Fundraising Tip that Will Bring in the Most Money

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Here my favorite fundraising tip that can boost your year-end…

Top 10 Year-End Fundraising Strategies for 2014

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What kind of appeal and message will make your 2014 donors respond…

Increase Your Year-End Fundraising $$ With This Simple Strategy

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Wouldn't you like to have a simple strategy that will dramatically…

Top 10 Ways to Screw up Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

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There's nothing more important this fall than your year-end fundraising…

Increase Your Year-End Fundraising Results With This Simple Step

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Wouldn't you like to have one simple step that will dramatically…

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

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

How to Reinvigorate an Annual Appeal that Started in August

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Here's a question from our colleague Chris Harp."Gail, my…

Be Contrarian - When Others are Falling Back, It's Time to Move Forward

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I was reading one of my favorite blogs last week - For Impact - and just had to share this with you. Tom Suddes and Nick Fedders (the For Impact folks) are two smart, and contrarian guys.I highly recommend their blog - especially if you are in capital campaign mode.It's a dynamite addition to my "31 year-end strategies in 31 days of October." Here's the most compelling advice you could possibly get to boost your year-end campaign strategy.Here's what they wrote last week."Just saw a note from one year ago today (19 Oct 08) in my journal… from über-investor Warren Buffett:“Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”My parallel thought goes like this:Be ASKING when others are hiding. Be ASKING even when others are asking.JUST ASK. It was almost a year ago when the economy crashed and everyone in the nonprofit world panicked. I wrote NOW MORE THAN EVER, where I basically said that this too shall pass….. and then that every For Impact organization needed to stay in front of its best investors (not hide under the desk).I guess the recession is “officially” over. Dow just went back to 10,000. However, there is still a ton of people without jobs; and, clearly, things will never go back to the way they were.For most of us in the third sector the DEMAND for our services and support has dramatically increased.NOW MORE THAN EVER… we need to be out with our best CHAMPIONS and PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS.Go forth… and JUST ASK!

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

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

How the Boys and Girls Club Encourages Volunteers to Make Face-To-Face Visits

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Here's what my new friend Dovie Prather of the Boys and Girls…

Your First-Time Online Donors Are at Risk!

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

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

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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

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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

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Take a look at this stack of mail.Big Stack of Mail Isolated on WhiteWhen 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 - 6It 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.

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

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