Month: October 2013

  • What great writer learned from a great copywriter

    Here’s a great post at Copyblogger about what novelist Salman Rushdie learned while he was a ad copywriter working for the legendary David Ogilvy: What One of the World’s Great Novelists Learned About Writing from David Ogilvy. He learned a lot that can help a fundraising writer: Spend an inordinate amount of time on headlines.…

  • Are you a real fundraiser?

    Fundraising is all about asking. But if all you’re doing is asking, asking, and asking again, you aren’t a real fundraiser. You’re a robot. Or, as the Queer Ideas blog puts it, This is not a strategy. Instead, fundraising is: Finding a point of connection that resonates with your audience. Creating that spark of understanding…

  • Four steps to stronger donor retention

    Last week I blogged about the Stop Acquiring New Donors Meme, the most bone-headed fundraising meme of our time. The meme, arising from the general drop in donor retention rates, says you should stop acquiring new donors until you fix your retention. Which is like saying you should stop breathing until you end air pollution.…

  • How to write effective fundraising copy

    Drayton Bird’s blog has some great advice for anyone who aspires to write marketing copy, at Five simple (and often ignored) habits that pretty much guarantee you success as a copywriter. I’ve annotated it for fundraising writers. What goes in determines what comes out. Read a lot. Read everything. The wider your knowledge, the greater…

  • Should you sweat the little stuff?

    Tom Ahern tells a discouraging story of a board member who refuses to let his organization send out any printed material with indented paragraphs at In defense of the endangered indent. Seems the guy just liked the look of those neat left margins. That board member is a buffoon. He was putting his aesthetic preference…

  • Four steps for turning your fundraising message from a loser to a winner

    From Better Fundraising For All, an account of how a poorly performing direct mail appeal was revised into a winner, at Direct Mail That Works! Part #1 and Part #2. Here are the changes that made the difference: A story of need was added. (At had been a description of the wonderfully effective program.) The…

  • Are your donors welcome at your website?

    One of the errors so many websites make — not just nonprofit, but all websites — is they cater to the design sensibilities and visual acuity of their young employees. Which means they’re missing older people. And if you’re a fundraising, missing older people is kind of like an orange tree that doesn’t get sunlight.…

  • The most bone-headed fundraising meme of our time

    It was a well-known speaker in the fundraising industry — someone you’ve heard of — speaking at a large and well-attended conference last week. The speaker’s assertion: Donor retention has got so bad, we should just stop acquiring new donors and focus all our energy on retention. A few people sitting near me rolled their…

  • Five ways to be less effective at fundraising

    Here are some great tips on fundraising letters from Fired-Up Fundraising, at Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes In Your Fundraising Appeal Letter: Your call to action is weak. You are not asking enough times in the letter. Your type font is too small. The word “you” is not showing up enough. You are not mailing…

  • Outline for great fundraising stories

    Here’s some great advice from Copyblogger: The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs. The same thinking applies very well to your fundraising story: You need a hero. (Your donor, not you!) You need a goal. (Your donor wants to change the world, and is looking for the right way to do so. You need…