Jeff Brooks’ Top Five Must-Read Blogs for Fundraisers
January 9, 2007

Blogs are a great way to initiate and encourage open dialogue about important topics affecting fundraisers or important issues affecting an organization. Jeff Brooks, creative director at Seattle-based full-service advertising agency Merkle/Domain, says the company’s own blog, Donor Power Blog, which he produces and maintains, came about out of its desire to promote the idea of donor-focused fundraising. “The blog seemed like an ideal way to have it out there and be talking to the people who care,” he says. Brooks says some of the things he’s learned to create a more engaging blog since starting his in the summer of 2005 are 1)

Blog Heaven
January 1, 2007

Should we launch a blog?” That’s what forward-thinking nonprofits everywhere are asking.

There’s a short answer to that question. (Hint: It’s yes.) But there are some complicating factors you need to think through.

Reduced Postage Rates
December 1, 2006

There has been a lot of complaining lately about the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service. To which I say, “Bah humbug!”

Stop the complaining. Every business day, nonprofit organizations in our country receive a gift that keeps giving and giving: sharply reduced postage rates courtesy of American taxpayers.

They're Out There
November 1, 2006

As a fundraiser, you might be asking yourself, “What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?” Well, here’s one suggestion for what you should be thankful for, even if you don’t know it yet.

One of my colleagues calls them “hidden heavies.” I’ve heard others refer to them as “nuggets of gold.” They’re the donors — undetected — on your donor file today who have the ability to give significantly larger gifts. In fact, not only do they have the capacity to give more, they’re just waiting for you to ask.

Newsletters Done Right
October 1, 2006

I’m convinced that most of the donors who support social-enterprise organizations today would give more tomorrow if they clearly understood the impact of their gifts — if they could experience the power of their support.

And this is exactly why donor-focused newsletters are such a vital part of the donor-communication mix. Newsletters sent to all active donors can do what the typical appeal letter can’t (and shouldn’t) do — educate, nurture and affirm, and report specific accomplishments. As a bonus, newsletters also are excellent fundraising tools.

And the Winners Are …
September 1, 2006

Grueling is the word that crossed the lips of the intrepid judges for our 2006 Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence as they made their way out of our offices one hot afternoon in August.

Not that we’re particularly demanding taskmasters, but the competition was, indeed, fierce. Much to our glee, it grew from 33 packages in 2005 to nearly 90 this year (sent in by 21 agencies and four nonprofit organizations). Some of the categories remained the same, but we added a few and tweaked a few others.

Seven Tips for Fundraising Success
August 22, 2006

On the final day of the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2006 New York Nonprofit Conference earlier this month, some of the most creative craftsmen in the industry came together in a session and presented some of their most successful campaigns of late. Among them was Mark Oehlshlaeger, creative director at Merkle/Domain, who talked about the company’s work creating the Livestrong direct-mail campaign for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In his presentation, Oehlshlaeger shared his seven steps to fundraising success: 1) Know your audience. For LAF, it was males ages 35 to 55 with a connection to cycling, most of whom had purchased a Livestrong wristband and

Calling All Agents of Change
August 1, 2006

A few months ago in Tucson, Ariz., I got a shot of reality — and humility, I should add — as I listened to a group of colleagues discuss emerging challenges in nonprofit fundraising. There were several “a-ha” moments.

The DMA Nonprofit Federation brought together about 100 direct-response fundraising leaders and commercial partners to dialog about our industry at its Leadership Summit in early June. We heard keynote speakers from our country and the United Kingdom, and then reacted and brainstormed in small groups.

Bagging the Brown Bag
August 1, 2006

Chicago-based hunger-relief organization America’s Second Harvest wasn’t working with a lagging control when it devised and tested this campaign. Quite the contrary — the organization’s brown lunch-bag appeal was doing “fabulously,” says Terri Shoemaker, senior account director with Merkle/Domain, the Seattle-based direct-marketing consultancy that teamed up with A2H in January 2002. It was generating a strong response and average gift, but it was expensive to mail.

Take a Deep Breath
July 1, 2006

The summer slump — distractions, boredom, fleeting thoughts of a new job, donor inattention — is in full effect, isn’t it? Some are lucky enough to be reading this month’s column while lounging in the backyard or at the beach. Others are grinding away at the office worrying about meeting their revenue budget this month.

So, here are some thoughts to ponder as you meander through your summer.