Month: September 2023

  • Why fundraisers want to use jargon — and why we shouldn’t

    Let me introduce you to a very useful term: Wat/San. In the international relief and development sector, it means “water and sanitation programs.” It’s useful because water and sanitation programs are common and various. Having a short way of referring to them speeds up and smooths out a lot of communications. A few years ago,…

  • The “default” direct mail appeal doesn’t really work

    According to informal research (i.e. the random fundraising mail that shows up in my mailbox), there’s a default way to do direct mail fundraising. It’s like this: #10 outer envelope, window or closed face, with a teaser like a journalistic headline — it clearly signals what’s inside, like, “Please help hungry children in the community…

  • The 90/10 solution for successful fundraising

    Is your fundraising messaging all about how successful your organization is at solving the problems it exists to solve? If so, you are not raising what you could raise. Here’s a very useful discussion of this at the Veritus Group Blog: Why Talking About the Problem Is So Difficult. Here’s the main point: When you…

  • Do you care about how many spaces are between sentences?

    Studies show that two spaces after a period is more readable than one. Here’s a report on a study in The Atlantic, at The Scientific Case for Two Spaces After a Period. Money quote: … there was an increase in reading speed of 3% when reading text with two spaces following periods, as compared to…

  • Get used to hokey fundraising

    Nearly everyone I know in the nonprofit fundraising industry is smart and/or well-educated. That’s why we have such a hard time with a fundamental truth: Hokey fundraising is effective. By “hokey” I mean: simplistic, loud, goofy, old-fashioned, and unstylish. It’s a word that lumps together a handful of undesirable traits that happen to work well.…

  • 3 tips to help your donors put you in their will

    Charitable bequests are a big deal. Organizations that are on top of marketing this form of giving can raise half of all their income through bequests. Another way of saying that is: They’re raising twice as much as equivalent organizations that aren’t paying attention to bequests. What should you be doing? Here’s some help from…

  • What is donor-focused fundraising, really? [PODCAST]

    Everybody talks about donor-focused fundraising. But what is it, actually? Listen to discover a new and more effective way to understand — and create — donor-focused fundraising. From the archives of the now-defunct podcast Fundraising Is Beautiful. This episode first aired on June 1, 2016. Listen here: (If you don’t see the audio player below,…

  • I’m a writer, not a whiteboard!

    “I’ll know it when I see it.” If you’re a professional writer and hear that, your blood runs cold. Because it really means, “I don’t have time to think about it, and I have no respect for your time.” Put on a blindfold and start throwing darts. We’ll eventually hit the middle of the dartboard!…

  • Educating is not fundraising … so what is?

    Educating is not fundraising. This is a hard truth for many of us, because we know a lot more about our cause, the problems we tackle, and the ways we approach our work. It’s natural to assume that if we can deposit some of the knowledge into donors’ minds, they’ll be more likely to give.…

  • Is the sky falling on fundraising?

    You’ve seen the panic. Numerous sources, including Giving USA and The Nonprofit Times show that giving in 2022 (the most recent year we have figures for) was lower than in 2021. A year-to-year fundraising drop is uncommon. This is only the 4th time the last 40 years. Worse yet is the amount of the drop:…