How to Plan Your Stories for 2017
January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am

Deciding on your big picture goals and creating at least some loose project plans can give you structure for the year. But how can you plan for storytelling? That’s what I want to talk about in today’s blog. These tips will help you with editorial and content planning and more. Think about your themes. While…

7 Tips for the Print-to-Digital Writer
December 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

I was recently asked for tips for print copywriters interested in writing for digital media. The timing was perfect because I was

The Best and Worst Word in Fundraising
December 19, 2016 at 8:00 am

There's a single word that can be one of the worst or one of the best words to use in fundraising. The word? We. Here's how to make it the worst: When we means "those of us in the organization" or "the committee that wrote this message." When used that way, it's exclusionary. It sets…

Is Your Fundraising Too Much Like a Family Christmas Letter?
December 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

I love family Christmas letters. Six-year-old Elmer is reading nearly 100 grade levels above his age. He has already secured a free-ride scholarship at the Sorbonne when he's ready for college, which will be just as soon as he finishes his school project of rebuilding a flood-ravaged village in New Guinea, using nothing but toothpicks…

5 Ways to Keep Donors Active and Engaged
November 29, 2016 at 9:30 am

You all know how much I love insight and data from studies. Recently, someone pointed me to the 2016 Donor Loyalty Study from Abila. There’s a lot in this document, and to really understand it you need to download the whole report. But here are some interesting elements about how donors view the content they receive from nonprofits...

Why Your Fundraising Needs Kryptonite
November 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

Superman is boring. Or, he was at first. Think about it. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall building in a single bound. X-ray vision. Invulnerable. He should never lose any conflict with anyone. Yawn. Who could sustain interest in a hero who automatically wins every time? That's…

Miracles, the Chicago Cubs, and Fundraising
November 10, 2016 at 8:00 am

Earlier this month, many of us experienced what felt like a miracle—the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Even if you are not a baseball fan, or if you supported the Cleveland Indians (the Cubs’ very worthy opponent), there are some great takeaways for fundraisers from the season that ended a 108-year stretch of losing...

Study: Carefully Chosen Wording Can Increase Donations 300 Percent
November 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

A forthcoming study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science, based on the psychology of sympathy, shows that small changes in the wording of a fundraising letter can increase donations by more than 300 percent. With more than a million registered public charities in the U.S., fundraising for good causes has become more difficult than ever.…

The War Between Fundraising Copywriter and Editor
October 27, 2016 at 9:29 am

Our challenge as fundraisers is how to write to the donor in the donor’s language. Simple enough, until you are faced with someone who doesn’t accept the challenge. So we have to battle against the editor or copy approver who forgets that fundraising takes head and heart. When you find yourself in this battle, here are a few strategies I use as needed...

10 Copywriting Secrets From a Legendary Author
October 25, 2016 at 10:18 am

I recently came across the late Elmore Leonard's "10 Rules of Writing." Leonard was a novelist, most famously of crime fiction. But his rules apply surprisingly well to fundraising writing. Here are the first five, along with my annotations for fundraisers: Never open a book with weather. (Probably not a good idea for a fundraising…