How mistakes can make you more money

Do you live in mortal fear of making typos? Don’t. Sometimes mistakes are the best things that can happen in your fundraising.

This recent post at the Agents of Good blog, Making mistakes #FTW, tells the tale of an email that addressed donors with “[FNAME]” instead of their actual first name.

Want to guess the outcome? “…best response of any email we’ve sent!”

Most people who’ve been in our business for a few years have similar stories: Terrifying typos that made everyone cringe — but seem to drive abnormally strong fundraising performance.

My theory: Many readers, on encountering an error, become very much more attentive. They’re looking for more errors. As a result, they pay a lot more attention to your message. That’s why the mistakes that have the most positive impact are the doozies — the terrible typos that fill our hearts with fear. A minor misspelling buried in a paragraph somewhere is seen by few readers. It can’t do that magic.

Some errors really will kill you: a broken link online. A wrong phone number or PO box in print. That’s why you can’t just be sloppy and hope for the best.

But those crazy errors that are so embarrassing — yet don’t keep people from responding? Those can be your friends.

You might have to do them on purpose from time to time.


Comments

2 responses to “How mistakes can make you more money”

  1. Typos show someone is human – and in my experience the more human sounding e-communications are (and the less corporate sounding) they better they do.
    The great thing about e-mails is you can track and test everything. How did a subject line do? How did subtle changes make a difference? How did a typo boost giving?
    Let’s all stop worrying so much about being professional and be more personal. Our donors tell us they prefer that by giving more.

  2. Typos show someone is human – and in my experience the more human sounding e-communications are (and the less corporate sounding) they better they do.
    The great thing about e-mails is you can track and test everything. How did a subject line do? How did subtle changes make a difference? How did a typo boost giving?
    Let’s all stop worrying so much about being professional and be more personal. Our donors tell us they prefer that by giving more.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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