From the Ashes
April 1, 2008

There’s a lot to be said about failure. Mainly that it stinks. No, seriously — failure helps you appreciate success a little more, right? And on a less existential level, it can teach you a lot about what not to do next time around. That’s no more apparent than in the world of direct-mail fundraising efforts. And from what we hear, it happens to the best of them. So to prove you’re not alone when one of your ideas isn’t as all-fire successful as you had hoped, here are a few failure stories from fundraising pros. Hear Ye, Hear Ye … Don’t Traumatize Your

All a Twitter
April 1, 2008

It was 10 minutes past the time I was to meet someone in the lobby of the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel during the Nonprofit Technology Conference last month. I wandered through the atrium and took a seat alongside Rick Christ, president of, and explained to him what was going on. “Twitter her,” Rick said. “Twitter her, and ask her what’s up.” I gave him the “blinkies” look — perfected during 22 years of parenting — that says, “What you have just said to me is so ridiculously out of the question that it is nearly incomprehensible.” To his credit, he held

Giving 2.0
March 1, 2008

Late last month, FundRaising Success launched its second e-strategy guide, Giving 2.0, a twice-monthly (for now) e-letter that offers insight, tips and advice on the most cutting-edge tactics that fundraisers are (or should be) using to meet their goals.

February 26, 2008

“While a $50 gift does indeed take $50 out of the donor’s bank account, the donor ends up richer, not poorer, for the transaction — because this transaction involves much more than just money. (Ask people who choose poverty or a monastic life for spiritual reasons if they think giving things away leaves you richer or poorer.)” — Jeff Brooks, senior creative director at Merkle, talking about the “myth of donor burnout,” in his Easier Said Than Done column, “How Much Asking is Too Much?” in the upcoming March issue of FundRaising Success.

Reach for the Stars!
February 1, 2008

Since day one, I’ve held that those of us who are responsible for putting out FundRaising Success learn more from our readers than our readers learn from us. And this year’s Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards have served to punctuate that belief. Each year, we send out nominating forms that are nice and neat, with perfectly balanced categories that cover what we think are all the bases. And each year, we name winners in those respective categories. But this year, the nominations weren’t so cut and dry, and we were reminded that there are thousands of fundraising pros out there who toil in

Cyber Chillin’
October 1, 2007

Well, we’ve got webinar No. 1 under our belts. I was a nervous wreck, even though my part was very small and, by virtue of the nature of webinars, I didn’t actually have to face anyone as I did it. Nope … it was just me, my hard candy and my stress ball, listening as Robin Riggs, Willis Turner, Steve Maggio and Kimberly Seville educated and entertained our audience.

And the Winners Are...
September 1, 2007

Wow! Who ever thought the Gold Awards could be so exciting? The sun was setting on judgement day, and we had a tie for Package of the Year. A first! So, I polled our four judges — Steve Froehlich, director of development analytics at the ASPCA; Tim O’Leary, vice president of McPherson Associates; Paul Bobnak, director of North American Publishing Co.’s Who’s Mailing What! Archive; and FS Senior Editor Abny Santicola. After some soul searching and spirited debate, they weighed in: two for one package and the other two for the other package.

Goodbye, Hello
February 1, 2007

Come back with me, if you will, to a time very early in my career with FundRaising Success. I had been editor for about five minutes. Then-Associate Editor Paul Barbagallo and I were meandering around one of our first fundraising conferences, sitting stiffly among our new colleagues, all of us dressed for business with our game faces on.

In the back, at a table far from the rest of the crowd, was a tall, laid-back-looking drink of water in a suit jacket and blue jeans. And I knew from the moment I saw him that I would know him better.

What Matters Most
September 1, 2006

I remember the first direct-mail appeal letter I ever wrote. It was 1978. A massive flood had ravaged a village in the lowlands of Bangladesh, and I was assigned to write an appeal to current donors.

Twenty-eight years — and many appeal packages — later, I want to share what I’ve learned. You might find these thoughts helpful as you prepare for your next appeal.

You Know Your Database Needs Refreshing When ...
July 5, 2005

You Know Your Database Needs Refreshing When … July 5, 2005 By Michael Mathias The great promise of database marketing is the ability to connect the right offer to the right person at the right time to stimulate a desired behavior. In practice, however, the best strategic thoughts are often completely diluted by the time they arrive at the point of execution. This dilution can be caused by many factors, but a leading culprit is not having the proper database infrastructure to leverage. Worse, the infrastructure itself, combined with the processes around it, could actually be an enormous constraint. Databases are dynamic, but also