December 19, 2017

Yearning for a new Christmas story to get you in the spirit? I heard this heartwarming story on NPR radio last night and, in the spirit of the Christmas season, want to share it with you:

It was Christmas Eve in 1967, and 15-year old William Weaver was walking his dog in his Knoxville, Tennessee neighborhood. Suddenly, from around the corner, he saw a boy pedaling down the street on an all-too-familiar-looking bicycle.

William thought to himself that the bike sure looked like his younger brother’s, so when he got home he asked his brother, ten-year old Wayne, where his bike was. Wayne replied, “It’s down the stairs leading to the basement.” But when William went to look, it wasn’t there.


December 4, 2017

I’ve been spending a lot of time this fall urging our clients to spend more time on their stories so that readers of their appeals would be engaged enough to care enough to donate. One of the key tactics I’ve been talking about is to fill in the words that aren’t spoken—words that are emotional and serve to connect the details to the one man, woman, or child the story is about.


A woman with keratomilensis was helped by our organization recently. She was unable to afford the surgery that could correct her vision. Then an ophthalmologist in the community stepped forward to help. He had received his training from our doctors. Now that the operation is over, the woman can see much better...

November 16, 2017

Personally, I’ve fielded any number of phone calls over the past month or so asking a simple, direct question: What am I supposed to do when my donors tell me they’re shifting their focus from traditional giving in order to give to some form of disaster relief?

As a fundraising pro, disasters probably aren’t in your arsenal of specialties to raise money for.

For your donors, your cause may be taking a backseat because of a perceived “lesser priority” than whatever disaster rules the day.

To put it plainly, donors do shift their giving to organizations with more immediate needs. Knowing how to keep donors engaged, while not seeming to be insensitive to the situation is a problem that must be...

November 1, 2017

It’s one thing to have a good story. Delivering it live or is the difficult part. I find storytelling is all in the specifics. Here’s an example of what I mean:

A client of ours had this short line in her 2 minute story: “We teach children financial literacy.”  When I asked the client for an example of what that meant, she said, “We show them exactly how much they can save if they buy a large bag of potato chips at the grocery store and bring a small baggie of chips to school each day instead of buying the single serving packages in the cafeteria.”

I told her that her explanation to me was what he should be saying (even though it was longer). When an audience hears your story, especially fo...

September 19, 2017

I know you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating:

Keeping a first time donor happy is easier AND cheaper than replacing that donor.

Listen to me—prioritizing retention over acquisition will ensure that you will be memorialized as a fundraising wizard. Just kidding about the wizard part, but I’m not kidding in the slightest about the wisdom of placing more importance of retaining new donors over the constant search for new ones.

You say you don’t know what to do to accomplish the above? Don’t fret. If you can avoid these mistakes, you’ll be doing exactly what you should.


  • Not saying thank you—Bloomerang reports that 13% of new donors don’t give a 2nd gift because they don’t fee...

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