jeff brooks

Nonprofit WritingStuck on that membership renewal email series or the petition-signing campaign due to launch on Facebook last week? Ready to move from making mediocre messages to crafting content that connects quickly, and is repeated and acted on?

Then learn and laugh as you gobble your way through Jeff Brooks’ new guide to writing great nonprofit content:  How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing. Whether you’re newish to the field, sick of the same old messages and methods, or obsessed with breaking into the all-star league, there is a way out of this message mess. Jeff provides the specific, concrete and frequently counterintuitive to-dos—and the kick in the patootie—we need.


Nancy Schwartz in Writing | 0 comments
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Martin Luther King inspired me to ask fellow bloggers to join me in the January Nonprofit Blog Carnival, to “pick any dream you have—for your cause, organization or the nonprofit sector—and share it and how you plan to make it real.”

I am inspired and energized by the richness of your contributions. I urge you to digest them to energize yourself and to focus you and your colleagues on the pathways to increased impact and results in 2012:


Nancy Schwartz in Fresh Takes | 4 comments
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Jeff Brooks

Enter your taglines today organizational, fundraising, special event and/or program taglines – in the 2010 Nonprofit Tagline Awards!

I want to welcome guest blogger Jeff Brooks, creative director at TrueSense Marketing. Jeff has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 20 years and blogging about it since 2005. Today, he shares some guidance on what NOT to do with your nonprofit tagline…

Writing a good tagline for an organization is one of the toughest 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 that’s vaguely related to what they do. And that’s too bad, because most nonprofits I know actually do specific things. It seems to happen more often than not.

Here are some examples:

Schools seem to specialize in vague, say-nothing taglines like these:

  • A Great School
  • Experience It
  • Be Central (“Central” is part of the school’s name)
  • Learn More

I’d call those a waste of ink, but since I’m responsible for creating an enormous volume of direct mail in my life, that would be the pot calling the kettle black. But still. Surely something specific and worthwhile goes on at those schools. You wouldn’t know from their taglines.

Probably the most over-used abstraction in nonprofit taglines is the word hope. Now, hope is a good thing, and if you’re in social services or health, you should be increasing hope in a number of ways.

But the hope really says nothing concrete. Check this numbing selection of abstract taglines:

  • Hope lives Here
  • Empowered by hope
  • Bringing Hope and Healing
  • Building Hope for a Cure
  • Providing Help, Hope and answers
  • Help and Hope
  • Sharing Knowledge. Sharing Hope.
  • Our help is their hope
  • Providing Healing, Help and Hope
  • Bringing hope. Changing lives.
  • Keeping Hope alive

And here’s one that combines the abstraction of hope with a sea of words:

Because at the heart of [name of organization] is what lives in the hearts of us all: The desire to help change the life of another and, in the process, change our own. Together we can perform extraordinary acts, and transform a life in crisis into a life of hope.

That’s clearly the work of a committee out of control.

The organizations with these taglines do a huge array of different things. Specific, useful, important, exciting things. But you’d never know by their abstract taglines.

Abstraction happens when committees are at work. They can’t agree on specifics, so they settle on the abstract. A lot of people actually believe an abstraction is better, because it’s “higher.” It’s not. It’s just airy vagueness that adds nothing to your messaging.

If your tagline is about “hope,” consider changing it. Have it tell people what your organization actually does.

P.S.  Enter today – The 2010 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards (a.k.a. The Taggies) close on July 28! And this year, for the first time, you can submit your organization’s program, fundraising campaign and/or and special event taglines, in addition to your organizational tagline.

This program is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Blackbaud, Event360, Eventbrite and See3 Communications.

P. P. S. Follow the tagline award news on Twitter via the hashtag #taggies

Nancy Schwartz in Taglines | 2 comments
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fundraisingThis afternoon, a client asked me about to share my top fundraising resources. Her organization is shifting gears, re-orienting its focus to
better match audience wants and interests, and eager to find funding to make it happen.

In crafting this list, I realized it may be of interest to you and that I’d like to know where you turn for fundraising guidance. Do keep in mind that my core learning strategy is to read/listen to (and talk with, when possible) the best heads on a topic. I learn most easily from case studies that give me the specifics I need to relate what I’m learning to the client project at hand.

Here are my top six fundraising guides. Please share your favorites now in the comments box below (click comments link at bottom or, if you’re looking at the permalink version of this post, just scroll down to bottom):

  • Tom Ahern–Lots of great case studies and fundraising models analyzed and annotated. Easy to learn from, and absolutely on point.
  • Tom Belford & Roger Craver:The Agitator–These guys love to present multiple points of view on a topic which makes the reader work, in a good way. Again, case studies, strategy and a wicked sense of humor.
  • Jeff Brooks: Future Fundraising Now–Formerly blogging at Donor Power, the incredible Jeff Brooks is cranking out almost-daily to-dos now, and every one is golden. Go, Jeff, go!
  • Network for Good: Fundraising 123–This online donation service goes way beyond their donate button to provide top-quality articles and webinars (all free) to strengthen fundraising and marketing skills.
  • Pamela Grow: Grantwriting Blog–Pamela brings a fresh perspective to her sage fundraising advice, as in today’s post pointing out how nonprofit fundraisers can learn (what NOT to do) from Food Network star Paula Deen. Good learning that’s fun and provocative, with lots of examples.

Click on the Comments link below to add the fundraising guides you rely on, and to read about the very important 7th guide I forgot to mention in this post.

P.S. Marketing and fundraising are two halves of a whole. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to
nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly
Getting Attention e-update.
Subscribe today .

Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 34 comments
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