It’s Not Just What You Say, but How You Say It
July 3, 2013

I learned a long time ago, as a development professional, that having a great case for support is nearly meaningless unless you also develop compelling messaging. Unfortunately, many nonprofits continue to send the same dull, institutional-focused direct mail that prospects easily bypass in the paper shuffle. Charities continue to make uninspiring calls, publish informative articles few read, run ads that donors only glance at and soon forget. Here are three tips for crafting more compelling content: 1. Cite fewer statistics and tell more stories. 2. Use humor. 3. Choose your words carefully.

Conference Roundup: AFP New Orleans
July 1, 2013

Last month I had the pleasure of joining the New Orleans chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for its annual conference, a tight and terrific two-day gathering on the beautiful campus of Holy Cross School. Organizers jammed as much education time as possible into what actually amounted to a day and a half. I couldn’t make all of the sessions, of course, but here are some nuggets of information gleaned from some of the ones I did attend.

Major-Gift Boot Camp: Paying Your Dues
June 20, 2013

A career in major gifts can be rewarding, exciting, satisfying, but it can also be challenging and frustrating. Do you have what it takes? Depending on the sophistication of the development program, you may have to work your way up to being a major-gifts officer. Maturity is a huge factor. In some development offices, MGOs work one-on-one with high-level volunteers, prospects and donors who expect to deal with someone who has a lot of experience.

Donor Fatigue Fatigue
May 16, 2013

Look at the data; don’t make assumptions based on feelings. Generally speaking, mailing more frequently than once a year will increase donor loyalty, not decrease. A charity with 3,000 donors should be mailing perhaps at least four and probably six times a year. Donor fatigue fatigue is when you get tired of people thinking that they have donor fatigue when it simply isn’t the case.

5 Tips for Giving Donors What They Really Want
May 7, 2013

Do you know what your donors want? Do they want a clever T-shirt? A fancy certificate? A lovely lapel pin? A practical coffee mug? A recognition lunch? Maybe. However, while some donors will appreciate receiving trinkets or invitations to recognition events, others really don’t care and still others will view such items as a waste of money. So, what do your donors really want?

Virtually all donors want to know that their donations will have a positive impact. In other words, donors of all sizes want to know that their contributions make a difference.

Top 10 Trends: How Major Donors Are Changing and What to Do About It
April 16, 2013

Major donors have changed a lot in what they want and expect from nonprofits. Ten years ago, you could raise good money with a “spray and pray”  appeal that was boring and generic. Now we have to work harder and smarter. The good news is that we can rely on plenty of research about major donors. What are they are thinking about their philanthropy and nonprofits? I’ve culled through the research — and here are my top 10 major-donor trends for 2013, along with a strategy to ride each trend productively.