October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

ScreamPumpkin 255x300 October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?
H E L P! I need major donors!

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?Continue Reading

Clairity Click-it: Fundraiser’s Job; Year-End Tips; Social Media; Crowdfunding; Major Gifts

Mouse mouse2 300x202 Clairity Click it:  Fundraiser’s Job; Year End Tips; Social Media; Crowdfunding; Major Gifts
Click it!

The end of the year continues to approach, and prime fundraising season is upon us! So today we have a couple of articles to remind you what your real job is as you prepare your year-end campaigns and strategies. Plus, some tips to help you amplify your fundraising team. And a bunch of social media tools, exercises and good advice; in 2015 social media should be an integral part of your end-of-year work plan. At the bottom you’ll find some new free resources and a last chance to prepare for your major gifts solicitations. Ready?Continue Reading

Why No Pain Trumps Gain in Fundraising Offers

toddlers fighting over toy Why No Pain Trumps Gain in Fundraising Offers
We really can’t stand to lose things – it’s something bred into us early on.

I’m about to clairify a subtle but very important point about what motivates philanthropic giving. After all, that’s what the “Clairification” blog is all about.

It’s often said that people give to people.  So true.

But people are funny.

People will often give more to people who show them the pain that can be avoided through their gift rather than the people who show them the good that can be gained.

Seems counter-intuitive, right?

Absolutely. So here’s a little reminder that people don’t always behave as you might intuitively believe they would.  Which is why fundraising is part art and part science. And here’s something we know from the research:

Fear of loss weighs heavier than hope of gainContinue Reading

Warning: Your Nonprofit is Sending Too Few Emails

email bearing fruit 249x300 Warning: Your Nonprofit is Sending Too Few Emails
If you want your emails to bear fruit, stop being so stingy with them!

As the end of the year approaches, are you planning enough emails?

Emails should be included as part of your robust, multi-channel annual appeal if you want to increase your chances of reaching your goals.  On top of that, emails can be a great way to set yourself up for success even before you send an appeal.

Sadly, many nonprofits I encounter are unwilling to email their constituents sufficiently. Here’s what I often hear:

We don’t want to tick them off by mailing too many times.

We can’t ask them for money more than once or twice a year.

They get a lot of mail from us and it’s probably annoying.

They’re probably getting mail from a lot of different departments, so we don’t want to send from our department too often.

What all these comments have in common is that they’re based on a lack of data.Continue Reading

6 Ways to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal

Fly by seat of pants 6 Ways to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal
Put your year-end appeal together without high risk – no more flying by the seat of your pants!

The end of the year will be here before you know it!

Working on your year-end appeal?

Around this time of year, it’s common for me to hear one or more of the following — not just from newbies to the profession, but also from seasoned pros:

I’m struggling with copy. Last year’s appeal didn’t do as well as hoped.

I think our copy is okay, but wish it could be more inspiring.

I wish I knew some tricks to get more folks to open our envelope (or email).

I’d like to leverage our appeal with some email and social media, but don’t know where to start.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants! Wish I knew what to do and when to do it better.

If these statements sound familiar, don’t worry.  You’re not alone.

Crafting fundraising appeals and end-of-year campaigns is not rocket science, but you do have to adhere to certain guidelines if you want to achieve blast-off.  So… here come some guidelines!Continue Reading

Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts

give where most needed Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts
What if we said “Give Where Most Moved” instead?

No one likes to be scolded.

Yet most nonprofits make a practice of regularly admonishing supporters to give “where most needed.”

You probably think this is a good thing. After all, it gives you the greatest flexibility. Right?

Wrong.  Think again.

You’ll have a lot more flexibility if you raise more money.

And you’ll raise a lot more money if you stop thinking about you and your needs and think more about your donors and their needs.

The practice of worshiping at the altar of unrestricted giving is about as non-donor-centered as it gets!

A prime example appeared a few years ago in an article I found on NPR (which has since been taken down from their site), in which the then CEO of National Philanthropic Trust chided potential donors to be loyal in their giving because it helps build planning. She said:

 “It’s really expensive for charities to find new donors and to raise money, so by doing fewer larger gifts, and then staying with them for three to five years, you’re actually helping the charity plan better and it’s easier for them to meet their mission.”

She continued to warn donors not to make the “common mistake” of giving to a very specific project or narrow program within a charity. These “restricted gifts” she said, don’t help a charity out with its other needs such as computers, training and maintaining facilities.

What nonsense!

It goes counter to intuition and common sense to force folks into your mold.

Why not encourage supporters to give to those programs about which they’re most passionate? Wouldn’t you think that would bond them to your organization over the longer term in a more natural way than telling them the “healthy way” to give is akin to eating their vegetables?

I’ve never really understood the penchant in so many nonprofits to eschew restricted gifts.

Some do this to the extent that major gift officers are penalized for bringing in too few unrestricted gifts. Essentially, this means these fundraisers are not allowed to talk to donors about what the donor really cares about. Their task is to steer the donor away from their passions and towards a middle-of-the-road strategy that simply doesn’t excite them. This is absurd! If you want to know why, take a look at this blog post by donor-centered fundraising guru Penelope Burk.

When you give people choices they’ll respond in greater numbers.

You see, if you package your overall case for support into different program ‘cases’ that resonate with people’s individual values, you’ll end up capturing more attention. People will actually read what you send to them. They’ll consider their options carefully. They’ll think about their giving. And they’ll make a thoughtful gift. Guess what else? About 50 – 90% of folks will decide to give an unrestricted gift!

Yes, you’ll also end up generating earmarked funds for your most popular programs. That’s great! Now you know what floats people’s boats.

And for those programs that are less popular,  you can direct your unrestricted funding there. You’re missing the boat if you simply talk in generalities and use unrestricted funds for ‘sexy’ programs that could potentially bring in greater donors and dollars. Yes, you need to keep the lights on. Yes, you appreciate donors who “get” this. Truly, I love the donors who give happily “where most needed.” But I also love those who give passionate, transformational gifts to a program near and dear to their heart. One is not better than the other. And there’s definitely room for both.

Wait, you say? What if we raise too much money for one program?

If that happens it’s not a bad problem. It should cause you to think. Whoa! People really like this program! Should we be doing more of it? Could we? Of course you don’t want unintentional mission drift, but thoughtful, strategic mission growth is a different thing.

Of course if you really end up with such an outpouring of support that you’ve more money than you can or want to use then, by all means, notify the donor and offer to return the money. This is not only the right thing to do; it’s also a good trust-building strategy. The fact that you were able to generate so much community goodwill only reflects positively on you. And often the donor may tell you to keep the funds to use where most needed. Whatever happens, you’ve had an opportunity to deepen your relationship with this supporter.

Donors increasingly want to take an active role in how their money is spent.

They’re less inclined to let your organization decide how their philanthropy will be allocated. You’re competing in a landscape where other organizations are giving your potential donors the opportunity to be actively engaged in their giving. If you don’t you will cease to be competitive in the donor marketplace.

Stop being afraid of restricted giving.

Offer your supporters enticing giving opportunities that key into what they’re most passionate about. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up deciding to make a restricted gift. It does mean they’ll probably end up paying more attention to you and making a considered gift of some form.

In fact, a study of the world’s wealthiest donors found that even among the most affluent donors nearly 70% of those with $1 to $5 million in assets prefer to give unrestricted gifts to charity, while among those with assets of $50 million or more, 45% say they prefer to make unrestricted gifts. When you offer choices the upside is greater than the downside. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

What’s best for your donors is what’s best for you.

Being donor-centered means understanding what donors really want and need. The more you continue to approach donors from the perspective of what you need, the poorer results you’ll see. It’s pretty much common sense, isn’t it?

mjr gift donors 150x150 Why You Should Stop Scolding Donors to Make Unrestricted GiftsWant More on This Topic?

Grab my “Major Gifts Matters” FAQs about offering donors choices. How much more money could you raise if leadership began to think from your donor’s perspective rather than their own? A lot. That’s what I’m guessing.  Get your E-Guide here for just ten bucks. If you don’t find it useful, I’ll happily refund your money — no questions asked!

Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? RESPECT

Satisfaction Cant get no Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? RESPECT
I can’t get no…

Fundraisers report that money is the number one reason they leave their jobs [See Part I of this two-part series here]. While I do believe too many fundraisers are underpaid relative to their skill sets and performance, I’ve a hunch it’s not the real chief culprit for fundraiser dissatisfaction. What is?

Guess what? The reason is very similar to why donors leave you. If you read through this article, you’ll learn both (1) how to keep more fundraisers, and (2) how to satisfy, inspire and retain more donors.


I gave you a hint in the title. Yup. It’s what Aretha Franklin famously sang about:


It’s not just respect for fundraisers as individuals that’s lacking. It’s respect for their profession. For what it takes to succeed with development in a nonprofit organization. For what it means to be a part of a team — all working together towards the same goal — and why it’s impossible to succeed without a supportive infrastructure and culture.

And by the way, donors won’t thrive absent a supportive culture and infrastructure either. They’re looking to be a part of your community, your family, your way of life. If you won’t give them this warm, fuzzy, connected feeling — they’ll find someone else who will.

So what pre-conditions must be in place for fundraising staff, and donors, to want to stay?

Continue Reading

Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? MONEY

Money Why are Good Nonprofit Fundraisers Hard to Keep? MONEY
Money is only part of the story of why fundraisers leave

If you’re a fundraiser, does this sound like you?

Show me my money!!!

According to five years of research by Penelope Burk (culminating in her book, Donor-Centered Leadership) as well as a much-talked-about study by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, half of chief development officers plan to leave their jobs in two years or less and 40% plan to leave fundraising entirely.  The number one reason fundraisers give for leaving is to earn more money.

What’s going on, and how can you fix it? Is it about money, or something else?Continue Reading

6 Secrets to Rock Multi-Channel Integrated Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

Rock musician 198x300 6 Secrets to Rock Multi Channel Integrated Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns
How you can rock your multi-channel social media and online/offline fundraising strategy!

This post includes 6 expert tips and best practices for any business, including a non-profit, wanting to run an integrated marketing campaign that generates more potential donors and raises more dollars.

Wait! What is an integrated marketing campaign?

An integrated marketing campaign is a marketing effort that uses a consistent message across traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. Ultimately all the messages should reinforce each other. Integrated marketing campaigns enable brands (yes, your nonprofit is a brand) to reach new audiences and gain mass exposure for their marketing promotions. Plus, in the information overload world in which we live, folks need to see your message multiple times before their brain will process it (Did you know that, on average, only 16% of Facebook fans will see what you share)?

There used to be a marketing ‘Rule of 7’ stating that a prospect needs to hear the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.  Guess what? That rule was invented by the movie industry in the 1930’s! It takes a lot more impressions today (I’ve heard as many as 21).

So a multi-channel campaign is the way to go. Whether you reach folks 7 or 21 times, or somewhere in between, your messages should range over different sorts of media. Consider emails and newsletters, social media posts, website and blog, direct mail, advertising and even in person presentations. But it can’t be a big mish-mash.  You’ve got to integrate everything to ensure all your media channels are working together. That’s how you’ll ultimately get noticed.

To illustrate how this might work for you, here is an exampleContinue Reading

Clairity Click-it Future of Fundraising Edition: Culture of Philanthropy, Donor Retention, Gratitude, Nonprofit Change + Learning Opps

Black cat and computer mouse 241x300 Clairity Click it Future of Fundraising Edition: Culture of Philanthropy, Donor Retention, Gratitude, Nonprofit Change + Learning Opps
Catch this Special Edition!

This week is all about what we need to do, collectively and within our organizations, to assure a bright future for philanthropy. I’ve gathered articles from some of the leading thinkers and researchers in the civil sector. This is important stuff — and one “Click-it” you won’t want to miss! Plus, as always, some great learning opportunities for you (scroll to the bottom).Continue Reading