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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Part 3 ... Part 3 ... Part 3 ... Competent on purpose
Tom Ahern

August, 2014

What every fundraiser should know about donor comms, IMHO



Want to make more money, thanks to your insanely great donor communications? Here is my short list of surefire "secrets for success".....part THREE. { Scroll to the bottom to see what parts ONE and TWO covered. }




Give your donors purpose they can afford.


Stop staring at my wallet. You're making me uncomfortable. Instead, offer me something to do (1) that's worth doing and (2) I can afford.


As Smile Train does. In one ad, the headline reads, "How often do you get the chance to save a child's life for $250?" In a companion ad, the headline reads, "Of all the good deeds you do in your entire life, this might be the best." It's within reach. It's worth doing. 


To quote Seth Godin, the wisest man on marketing's tallest mountain, "We support a charity ... because it gives us a chance to love something about ourselves."


Being charitable -- being compassionate, being kind, being loving and empathetic and helping others with their problems -- gives people purpose.


As a survivor of the Nazi death camps, influential psychologist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) knew something about finding meaning in life. The Nazi regime separated him from his young wife, Tilly. They murdered her and his parents, and nearly killed him. When British troops liberated him in 1945, he was barely alive in a meadow of death: 13,000 corpses littered the Bergen-Belsen camp unburied. 


"Humans are driven by a will to establish meaning in their lives," he concluded. "They need purpose."


"Money CAN buy happiness," as Michael Norton, a research psychologist and professor at the Harvard Business School, shows in his TED Talk, "when you spend it helping other people." 


Alan Clayton, one of England's most successful fundraisers, proclaims loudly to any bass ackwards charity that will listen: "Fundraising is NOT about money!"


I hear his pain. He knows full well this simple, almost completely overlooked, truth: fundraising is about the donor's mental health, not about the nonprofit organization's fiscal health.


The charity cares about money. The donor does not. Could there be a bigger divide? 



It's not 1995: If your website isn't ready for acquisition, you're losing money and new donors. 


This following corrective checklist of website fundraising errors (you're probably committing at least one right now) is a public service from Neilson Norman; via Jeff Brooks' Future Fundraising Now blog; via me, knowing the good stuff when I encounter it.


5 Tips for A Fine Fundraising Website


Clearly Explain What the Organization Does. ("On average, it took users about 6 minutes to locate information about the organization's purpose, which was far too long. A task time of 1 minute for this crucial task would be a more reasonable goal....") Or how about instantly? Recheck your tagline. 


Disclose How Donations are Used. ("Those who couldn't find the information were aggravated and thought the organization was inefficient or trying to bury those details.")


Display Third Party Endorsements.


Provide a Noticeable and Clear Link to Donate.("...25% of the homepages included in our study failed to provide a Donate call to action.")


Streamline the Donation Process. ("Although the donation process requires less information than a typical e-commerce checkout process, it took longer for users to complete, on average.") Yeah. I can attest as a frequent online donor that most check-out processes are much closer to The Dollar Store than to Nordstrom's. 


Learn a simple story formula.

Depending on where you are at this moment, you should all bow either east or east, toward England, where 30-year-veteran Stephen Pidgeon and his company, Tangible, generously shared the basic story framework behind their remarkable success in direct mail fundraising.

There are four parts to this formula:
  • Vision ("With your help...")
  • Enemy ("Defeat this evil...")
  • Hero ("You are our hope...")
  • Served ("The people you'll save...")

Allow me to summarize: your appeals to people for cash support should not really be about your organization, if you want them to perform ABOVE par ...


... those appeals will be about the donor and about making the donor into some kind of hero.  


Only you can do that, fundraiser. 


"Hey, Nike, what's your opinion?" "Just do it."




You think I'm cynical? I'm an idealist ... and a follower of neuroscience and applied psychology. 



Covered in Part 2...

Direct mail, the #1 way that charities in America raise money and acquire new donors 

Covered in Part 1 ...


Understand "tribe"

"How much jargon did I kill today?"

Measure retention


  • Thanks to Rory Green for the tip about Michael Norton's TED Talk.
  • The Viktor Frankl quote came from a blog posting by For Impact. For Impact offers fundraisers a huge amount of free (and profound) advice on their website including a library of PDF e-book "Guides" (scroll down on the home page).


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