Focus on the donor, catch his eye, and trust the data

Jeff Brooks, the man who literally wrote the book on fundraising, put together a great list of important principles he’s discovered over his 30-year career. 

Take a look at this post, 8 Transformative Things I've Learned from 30 years in Fundraising, on his Future Fundraising Now blog.

Here are some quick highlights: focus on the donor, catch the donor’s eye, and trust your data.

Jeff couldn’t be more right! These are crucial tips to keep in mind when raising money for your organization’s mission.

I highly recommend Jeff’s book, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications. It’s an essential read for anyone involved in fundraising.



Ben Franklin: Founding Father of the Fundraising Ask?

We’ve long lived in a do-it-yourself culture.

Though we teach our children the value of teamwork from a young age--we also tend to see independence as a sign of strength and capability.

Conversely, we could as easily view those who constantly ask for favors and help as needy, selfish, or helpless.  Maybe this is why we’re so uncomfortable asking for help: we don’t want others to think we’re greedy or weak.

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Entitled Boomers, cynical Gen X-ers, and those darn self-obsessed Millennials: who’s right when it comes to generational giving?

Rotary phones to smart phones.  Commodores to MacBooks.  8-tracks to MP3 players.  The world is always changing for each new generation.

But one thing that may never change is the all-out war between them: from the music they listen to, the clothes they wear, their schooling, jobs, hobbies, and even they way they talk, practically EVERYTHING is up for criticism when one generation decides to start talking about another.

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What I learned about direct mail this morning...from Facebook

I haven’t reached the point that I only log into Facebook to see photos of my grandchildren--yet.  But I have to admit that I’m not quite sure what Instagram or Snap Chat are all about.  

So when I spent time this weekend with my friend Mark Murphy who embraces Social Media to promote his books, seminars, and studies at LeadershipIQ, I was surprised by how interesting Social Media can be.

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Scientists discover giving just may be the key to happiness

 It might seem romantic to say true happiness lies in what we are able to give to others--not in what we are able to gain for ourselves. 

But logically, generosity doesn’t make sense: if we want to better things for ourselves as much as possible, why do many of us give so much of what we have to others--especially when we don’t appear to benefit from the transaction?

A team of researchers in Zurich may have found the answer.

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Can I trust you?

Trust gains you new donors and retains your past donors.  Trust is what makes a donor comfortable making a sacrifice to support your cause.  Trust is what makes a donor keep giving to your cause even if he won’t personally see the direct results of what you’ve done with his donation.

In the mind of a donor, your ability to inspire trust is incredibly important.  It may even be the most important part of your relationship.

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Your stories can transform nonprofits -- a TEDx Talk with Andrea Proulx Buinicki

Andrea Proulx Buinicki is the founder of Giving Focus, a philanthropy consulting firm specializing in helping smaller nonprofits ditch the professional fundraisers and take command of their own fundraising.  Buinicki started Giving Focus in 2011 after 15 years of working in nonprofit fundraising and marketing, and was recognized in 2012 by The Northwest Indiana Times as one of Northwest Indiana’s top “20 Under 40” for her exceptional career in philanthropy

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Dan Pallota: The way we think about charity is dead wrong.

"Philanthropy is the market for love."

Dan Pallota, founder and President of the Charity Defense Council and author of Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, has spent his career going to bat for the nonprofit sector.

In his 2013 TED Talk -- one of the 100 most viewed TED Talks of all time -- Pallota attacks the all-too-common idea that for nonprofits, success and trustworthiness can only be measured by the money an organization doesn't spend.

This belief, lovingly called "the Overhead Myth" by those of us involved with nonprofit fundraising, has long been a ball and chain around the ankle of every small charity.  It's the belief that an organization must go to extraordinary lengths to reduce organizational costs and spending so that the highest percentage possible of every dime donated ends up in the pockets of benefactors.  

The problem?  Charities are already limiting overhead expenses as much as they can -- in some cases, to the detriment of fundraising efforts and operational efficiency -- and many potential donors still say it's not enough.

And that's when these donors take their money elsewhere.

But without employees, without a facility to operate out of, without transportation, and without funding to produce educational materials and promote projects, there is no charity.  And when nonprofits are compelled to cut funding from these areas, the services and outreach provided by these charities suffer.

The old adage goes, "you gotta spend money to make money," and most people would probably agree -- when it comes to business.  But when it comes to nonprofits?  Many people still take a frugality = morality stance.  And it's hurting charities -- and more importantly, the people they serve.

This TED Talk has been viewed more than 8 MILLION times.  And with good reason!  Take a look.

Grammar? We don't need no stinking grammar!

Here’s a direct mail pro-tip: once you’ve finished writing the Greatest Fundraising Letter Ever, read it aloud to yourself.

Does it sound choppy?  Are your sentences short?  Are you starting sentences with conjunctions, repeating yourself, breaking sentences between pages, and leaving all those annoying commas out of the mix?


I hate to break it to you, but if that’s the case, you might want to toss that first draft in the circular file and start again.

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