How to Raise More Money Now – Free E-Book

How to Raise More Money NowI was honored to be among the folks that Network for Good asked to contribute innovative fundraising ideas to this inspiring new e-book, How to Raise More Money Now.

You know what the tried-and-trues are, and I’m sure you’re working them as hard as possible. But swallow this free guide (it’s a great, quick read) for ideas beyond the norm — ideas that you can use to wake up donors and prospects now.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas from the e-book:

  • Don’t ask your donors to solve huge problems; ask them to solve solvable problems.
  • Think like a Girl Scout and start selling cookies. Give me different options for how to invest with your organization.
  • Organize a volunteer online thank you corps. Donors get a simple training and are then assigned new donors to personally thank on behalf of the cause. (Particularly love this one. Everyone is – or can be — a fundraiser, just as everyone’s a communicator. Help your colleagues supporters be great at it.)

You’ll find many more ideas like these in How to Make More Money Now.  They won’t all be  “cut-and-pasteable” to your organization, but I guarantee they’ll spur you to come up with some fresh ideas that are. Download the guide now.

P.S. Vote now to build your messaging skills by selecting the best in class in the 2010 Taggies — the third annual Nonprofit Tagline Award Competition. It’s a fun project that will help nonprofits in all fields discover what works, and why.

5 Steps to a Stand-Out Year-End Appeal

This is the beginning of the end…of the year. The time for you to bear down and give birth to the most compelling fundraising campaign you have in you! So get to it.

Email outreach is just one component of your multi-part year-end appeal campaign. But it’s a channel that increases in importance — due to your ability to time receipt precisely — as you move into the final days and hours of 2011.

Take a look at the email subject lines above — which led year-end appeal emails I received in December 2010 — for ideas on what will work (and what won’t) for your organization.  And work backwards from there!

My recommendations:

  1. Make it extremely personal, as the end of the year is emotionally weighted with review of the year past and hopes and goals for the year to come. So emphasize that connection (between your organization’s review and goals, and those of your supporters and prospects). Also, include one of your team’s name (or rotate names) in from lines and direct mail signatures.
  2. Inspire, don’t guilt. Ringing in the new year with a gift to free speech inspires me, while nudging me that I shouldn’t delay just annoys me.
  3. Launch an email series, rather than depend on a one off, tied together with a single, memorable theme. Note how Lauren-Glenn Davitian (of CCTV, I’d add that to her “from” info) first asks for a 2010-focused contribution on December 28, then returns at the last moment with a request for a contribution spearheading 2011 impact on December 31.
  4. Integrate that email series with a direct mail campaign, and social media (where you are already — don’t go out for the first time at this point.)
  5. Laser focus on your appeal during the last week of the year, rather than talking about events to come. Keep your base’s eye on the prize, especially during this week when we’re all distracted by holidays, family and honing those new year resolutions.

What’s worked for your year-end fundraising campaign, and what’s flopped?

Direct Mail Reality Check: Outakes from Fundraising Day in New York

Here are some very interesting tips from folks who do direct mail 24/7 and shared their expertise at a recent session at Fundraising Day in New York (remember, this work is 99% fundraising). But I gotta say, I was shocked by the bubble some of these experts are trapped in; read on for details:

  • How much you say depends on who you’re reaching
    • Prospects respond better to longer (4pp.) letters
    • While in-house lists (current donors) prefer a shorter letter (2pp.)
  • People assume you’re customizing the letter to them
    • So it’s not always necessary to explicate that
    • Members who received mailings for an annual fund campaign responded at a higher rate to the test that didn’t address them as members, or refer to their membership at all.
  • Be as tangible as possible for higher impact
    • A fundraising mailing that featured a ribbon drew much better when a real cloth ribbon, rather than a ribbon sticker, was used.
  • Too much nitty-gritty can depress response
    • When the Special Olympics(SO) integrated testimonials from the families of its atheletes, response rate fell
    • My guess: Perhaps SO’s current direct mail donor base (60+) doesn’t want to hear the truth. The rest of us crave it. And so will we when we get older. Look alive, direct mailers.
  • Companion emails increase response to direct mail by 12%, especially when the ask in is the first two paragraphs of the email
    • This is no surprise to those of us immersed in integrated marketing, but most of the speakers (and listeners) at FRDNY are all mail, all the time.
  • Authenticity rules — handwritten cards (real, not printed handwriting) work

All useful to know. But here’s what really startled me. When I asked the panel of three direct mail experts why they’re focusing only on folks 60+, they stared at me like I was crazy. The universal response was that the other prospects were handled by other parts of the organization (online only), and that they don’t give much. What about shepherding folks teens up into supporting nonprofits in all ways? What about people now 60 who’ve been using the Web for 15 years? What about all those confused audiences who are getting snail mail and email that are completely uncoordinated?

Wake up, direct mailers, and break out of your bubble.

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Capitalize on The Big Give: 4 Ways to Work it via Nonprofit Marketing

Oprah’s Big Give premiered Sunday evening March 2nd to record audiences (15.6 million, according to Nielsen ratings). Now that’s a huge number of folks paying attention to giving; many of whom are likely to have little experience with nonprofits, donating or volunteering.

The show works like this: Ten contestants, ordinary people who auditioned in different cities like “American Idol” aspirants, are paired into teams and assigned a person who needs help. The team that raises most money — and presents the most moving case — wins. Each week the lowest-scoring contestant gets sent home.

Despite the fact that critics have panned the show as a venue for product placement, not good will; as a fraud and so far worse than a show that doesn’t claim to do good, The Big Give is clearly a dream for ABC and its advertisers. I see it as a dream come true for nonprofit marketers.

Here are four low-cost/effort, high-return ways to put those 31 million eyeballs (and millions more who are reading about the show) to work for your nonprofit:

  1. Harvest volunteers, while interest is hot. Register today with VolunteerMatch. Oprah has wisely partnered with experts on this front — VolunteerMatch is shepherding folks into volunteering, a service featured on the show home page. Make sure you’re volunteer ops are listed in the VolunteerMatch database. Here’s how.
  2. Make it easy for folks to give via Network for Good, even if you’re already using another online giving strategy. Oprah has partnered with online giving service Network for Good on the donation side. Sign up today so you don’t lose these viewers.
  3. Invite supporters to throw Big Give parties for your org, and simplify the process by providing a downloadable party kit with e-invite text, stories of other giving parties, a party hotline, etc. Oprah offers tips for format and food here.
  4. Sponsor or launch a local “Big Give” knock off in your community.