Month: December 2018

  • How to do better than the Wikipedia year-end fundraising campaign

    If you visit Wikipedia, you’ve seen their year-end fundraising campaign. Here’s one of them: What they’re doing right It’s easy to give. The reply is right next to the appeal (I’ve cropped it out to make the appeal more legible). It’s a simple, well-designed form. Repetition. Every time you visit Wikipedia, you get some version…

  • Three easy fundraising lessons

    This is the back of the response envelope from a piece of direct mail I got recently: It offers us three super-easy fundraising lessons: 1. Don’t use a bangtail envelope in direct mail A bangtail is one of those envelopes with an extended flap that allows you to combine a reply device with an envelope.…

  • How long should your fundraising story be?

    I was writing a direct mail appeal for a medical charity, and came across this story. Here’s how I wrote it: A few years ago, when [Name of Son] was a preschooler, he noticed that when he held his Dad’s hand, it would stop shaking. [Son] asked if he held his Dad’s hand all night,…

  • What we don’t know about fundraising

    Sometimes, you just can’t tell what’s wrong with your fundraising. It’s not working, and you’ve tried every logical fix, but it still doesn’t work. That’s a frustrating feature of any kind of marketing. Or any kind of communication, really. Let me give you a non-fundraising example: A while back, an online course I was teaching…

  • How your fundraising might be saying exactly the wrong thing

    Here’s one simple truth that will help you raise a lot more money: Your donors don’t give to support your organization. They give to make the world a better place — through your organization. Most fundraisers are not operating under that basic truth. They seem to think fundraising is a matter of showing donors how…

  • Stupid claim that a color can do your job for you

    Colors can pack in quite a lot of emotional information. But if there were a color that somehow compelled viewers to pay attention, I figure we’d know about it because: It would have been discovered by advertisers or propagandists many years ago. It would be licensed for use selling soft drinks and athletic shoes, thus…

  • The power of mystery for raising funds online and off

    Mystery is one of the most important (and under-used) tools for us in fundraising. It’s the most dependable way to get people’s attention. Email subject lines are a real laboratory for ways to grab attention. So are direct mail outer envelopes. Get those two things right — which most of the time means creating a…

  • 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. Most people who’ve been in our business for a few years have can tell stories of mind-blowing errors that drove abnormally strong fundraising performance. My theory: Many readers, on encountering an error, become…

  • What, exactly, is “donor love”?

    It’s easy to throw around a term like donor love, meaning pretty much anything you want it to mean. Some think it means finding cute ways of saying “I love you” to donors. Some think it means not creating fundraising that you or your colleagues dislike. It might be that first one. It almost definitely…

  • The common fundraising paragraph that turns away donors

    I’m going to show you a paragraph from a direct mail appeal that directly harms the effectiveness of the piece it’s in. You might say, I see paragraphs like that in fundraising constantly! And you’d be right. You also might say It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say. You’d be right about that too. But…