Month: August 2017

  • Bragging is not fundraising

    Here’s the back of a 6″ x 9″ envelope from Uncle Maynard’s Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge: I’ve no reason to doubt that this is a good expression of what this Christian teaching ministry does. But as far as fundraising goes, it misses the point entirely. It’s a common fundraising mistake. The strategy seems…

  • How to critique effectively

    Too often, when people critique fundraising messages, they talk in the first person. They make it seem as if the critiquer is a donor telling her story of her interactions with the piece and why it did or didn’t work. These critiques are full of phrases like these: I don’t like it. That confuses me.…

  • When your fundraising story is not story at all

    Read this excerpt from a direct mail appeal: This has the hallmarks of a story. There’s a protagonist (Mary). There’s conflict (her situation as a teen mother). There are lots of details. Yet it’s really not a story at all, at least not a fundraising story. What this story lacks is the main ingredient of…

  • Double your fundraising revenue

    Normally, if someone said you could double your fundraising revenue even if you you’re losing donors, it would raise a snake-oil alert. But there’s a way, described at Hilborn Charity eNEWS: How to double revenue with fewer donors. Here’s how: Move 10% of your donors to monthly giving. Persuade about 3% of your donors to…

  • Abstraction makes nonprofit taglines pointless and empty

    Writing a good tagline for an organization is one of the toughest writing challenges around. You have to get a whole lot of things right. So let me show you something that a lot of nonprofits get wrong with their taglines. It’s abstraction. A lot of really pointless nonprofit taglines merely throw out an abstraction…

  • 5 secrets old-pro fundraisers rely on to craft their best work

    Here are some old copywriting tricks that can help you write better, stronger fundraising. These are used by fundraising writers with decades of experience under their belts. They can work for you too: Write the reply coupon (or donation page) first. Knowing exactly where everything is pointing helps you stay on task and avoid rabbit…

  • Why would anyone keep reading these letters?

    I was digging through Uncle Maynard’s Treasure Trove of Direct Mail Knowledge, looking for a great story I could use as an example of effective storytelling. It was discouraging, because it took a <>long time to find what I was looking for. I eventually found an incredibly wonderful story, I’m glad to say. But I…

  • Why great fundraisers tell unfinished stories

    Here’s one of the toughest things in fundraising, a change in the way you tell stories that can dramatically improve results: Tell stories without endings. It goes against your instincts as a storyteller. But it works. Because it moves the would-be donor from a passive consumer of the story you tell to an active part…

  • We can finally work together — so call me!

    I’ve spent nearly all of my almost 30 years in fundraising working at fundraising agencies (most recently TrueSense Marketing. If you wanted to work with me, you had to hire the agency I worked for. Which was problematic, because unless your organization is fairly large, you can’t afford that level of service. Or you already…

  • Why you shouldn’t take the classic “giant check” photo

    You’ve seen that photo of a smiling group of people holding a check that’s the size of a beach towel, a large donation to a charity. Everyone is happy. And you should not use this photo, says the Madlin Sudn blog, at Say no to giant cheque pictures: Pictures … need to tell a story…