August 5, 2019


When it comes to fundraising, what does your organization remember?

  • Do they remember why that campaign three years ago worked or didn’t?

  • Do they remember what your donors have said about you in various settings or polls/surveys you’ve conducted?

  • What have you learned from your online or direct mail testing?

The point is non-profits are notoriously bad when it comes to building and making use of what they’ve learned. There are many reasons for this, among them being that they’re too busy to capture or think about critical information, inadequate databases or lacking in the expertise to use them, not knowing the right questions to ask, staff turnover, the constant call...

July 24, 2019

Successful fundraisers use direct mail to inform and engage donors, get a strong volume of gifts, and transition annual donors into major ones.

The secret to a successful direct mail program? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. You have to learn the fundamentals and regularly execute them.

You should have a yearlong plan in place. This plan should concentrate on 5 really important areas:

  1. Your timeline – This should contain the dates when donors should receive your appeal, not when the piece should drop. Then you can work backwards on things like when your appeal should be printed, etc. If you’re working on a fiscal year schedule, it’s usually a good idea to do mailings in mid-June, late-Octo...

July 10, 2019

There was less than great news from Giving USA last June regarding individual giving. That’s been well chronicled.

For fundraisers who survived the recession of the late 2000s, it’s ok if you’re a bit nervous when you read about the decline in individual giving. It’s especially ok if you pay attention to what you need to do to have a strong 2019 and beyond.

Don’t believe the so-called experts when they tell you they know why overall giving had such small gains last year. Remember, not very long ago we were all celebrating what was a record-breaking year of giving. And this year that total was improved upon.

It had been widely predicted by doomsayers that giving was going to dramatically decr...

June 18, 2019

Take a look at the sign in the photo accompanying this post. Take a good, long look. Aside from giving you a taste for a hot dog, what you probably notice is that this fast-food establishment sells only one food, hot dogs, which you can get either as a single or a double dog.

Gene and Jude’s is a true Chicago institution. It’s been cranking out its specialty, delicious hot dogs since the 1950s. With the exception of tamales and fries (which come piled on top of all hot dogs), that’s it. No burgers, no chili dogs, or dogs with tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, pineapples, kale, or you name it.

When you get a dog from this place it comes with mustard, raw onions, green relish and sports peppers. Per...

June 13, 2019

Has your organization been around for at least 10 years? If so, you have prospects—people  that you once served—either when they were students, patients, homeless or, well, I’m sure you get the picture.

That makes them potential donors. These are people who are familiar with your work, have had a legitimate relationship with your cause, and probably have a pretty good understanding of the work you do.

Being able to identify those prospects who have a passion for your work can be challenging for any number of reasons, including the fact that any allegiance they may feel towards you may be in competition with many other causes vying for their share of support.

Can we agree to call these indivi...

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