What's in my Inbox


I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve taken the opportunity to spotlight a Mercy Corps communication piece, but that doesn’t stop me from putting this nonprofit front and center yet again. If you’ve kept track of my past installments of Power of Storytelling, What’s In My Inbox, and What’s In My Mailbox, you probably have a clear understanding of why. When Mercy Corps reaches out to their supporters, they do a lot right, and it’s worth mentioning so that you can take note. But in their most recent email, they’ve shifted their voice over to the other side by inviting a long-time donor, Carol Montgomery, to be their ambassador. The emphasis here is on storytelling, being the change, and encouraging monthly giving. It’s on gratitude for coming so far and making the world shine brighter. It’s the unequivocal understanding that great work isn’t possible without great people; passionate donors who genuinely are the change they want to see. In Carol’s case, she’s been the change for over 20 years.

Her account is a powerful case for support, and while the opening “Dear Friend” isn’t the ideal beginning, the faux pas can’t take much away from what is a rallying, encouraging, and welcoming letter that could potentially result in enthusiastic participation from fellow donors who are inspired to join in. The letter speaks for itself, and you can check it out below.

Have you ever invited your donors to share their perspective, to step up and be an ambassador for your organization? How did the audience respond to it?

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Because Britain’s children depend on it: Barnardo’s chooses inspiration over shock value

September 26, 2016

I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside -Linda Creed, The Greatest Love of All Barnardo’s, a U.K.-based charity dedicated to caring for young, vulnerable people, has a history of releasing confrontational content through their ad campaigns, consistently generating […]

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Six Ways to Start Gearing Up for Year-End Fundraising

September 23, 2016

Do you have a plan in place to meet your year-end fundraising goals? Just imagine: the average non-profit raises over 40% of its annual revenue during the last quarter of the calendar year. And a full third (33%) of the donations made in December occur on the 31st of the month! Start getting ready for […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Now THIS is stewardship!

September 21, 2016

SeniorsFirst, a Power of Thank You alum, is engaged in keeping senior citizens empowered, healthy, and independent. Through supportive services including meal programs, personal care assistance, companionship, and more, SeniorsFirst positively impacts a human experience that so often leaves people feeling lonely and vulnerable: getting old. Power of Thank You, my often-imitated, never-duplicated first-of-its-kind online […]

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Dianne’s Day: Make the “Overhead” Real

September 20, 2016

Last Friday I went to the Vancouver Fringe Festival – a large festival where hundreds of plays are put on at every imaginable venue in town over a few short weeks. As I waited in the lobby I noticed poster’s everywhere announcing that it was “Dianne’s Day”. “Dianne’s Day! Diane would like to thank the […]

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How can you be there for a friend who has just received devastating news?

September 19, 2016

As a friend, as a loved one, how can you be there for someone when they are suffering real emotional distress? What can you say or do to help? I turned to Missy Longman for answers recently and she didn’t disappoint. Missy has graciously agreed to allow me to share her words of wisdom. What […]

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Fundraising Friday | September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling highlights Stone Soup Films in Washington, DC, and their amazing storytelling through video. How are you sharing the overhead story with your donors? I really liked this email from Basics & More alum, The Fuller Center. And don’t miss the accompanying video on explaining overhead to your donors. The […]

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Are they really and truly lapsed? Or have you been neglecting them…

September 15, 2016

One of my subscribers recently sent in the following question. It’s a good question and one that I get asked often, so I thought I’d respond here. Like most non-profits, we do an annual fund each year and mail 3-4 letters. We are an 19-year-old institution and have about 1900 people in our donor database. […]

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In Praise of Special Events

September 14, 2016

Ah, special events! Don’t you love the sense of accomplishment at the end of the planning process? Aren’t you excited about working with your all-volunteer event committee? Isn’t it wonderful to be creating a meaningful and profitable fundraising experience? It’s hard to believe, but some people don’t really love hosting special events. In fact, lots […]

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What’s in my Inbox | Reporting impact: Transparency in overhead

September 13, 2016

Starting with the subject heading, “Look what you’ve done,” I was immediately drawn to read this email from The Fuller Center for Housing, a faith-based nonprofit promoting “collaborative and innovative partnerships with individuals and organizations in an unrelenting quest to provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide.” Administrative overhead can be a tricky […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Empowering storytelling nonprofits through video: meet Stone Soup Films

September 12, 2016

Stone Soup Films, a DC-based production studio engaged in empowering nonprofits to generate greater social impact through sharing their stories, has been capturing dynamic narratives by video since 2008. Ever since I was inspired by Knock Studio, I’ve been exploring other companies that offer this crucial service to nonprofits; the task of translating a story […]

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Fundraising Friday | September 9, 2016

September 9, 2016

How are you inspiring and delighting – and sharing impact – on a regular basis? Find out why I loved Mercy Corps’ recent “Best Email You’ll Read All Day.” This week’s What’s in my Inbox. How do you reassure your donors when there’s been a change in leadership? I loved this beautiful thank you note […]

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Data Driven Nonprofits. Interview with Steve MacLaughlin

September 8, 2016

It’s hard to ignore all the talk about Big Data these days. But what does it all really mean for fundraisers? I turned to nonprofit data expert Steve MacLaughlin for some answers. He’s just published a new book called Data Driven Nonprofits that explores this topic in vivid detail. Why did you decide to write […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Handling transitions with grace and gratitude

September 7, 2016

How do you handle changes in leadership, from the perspective of your donors? After Living Yoga, an organization I support as a monthly donor, recently brought on a new executive director, I was delighted to receive this hand-written card in my mailbox. The envelope itself was hand-addressed, and inside I found a lovely thank you […]

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What’s in my Inbox | Best email I’ll read all day? You bet.

September 6, 2016

I receive an influx of emails on a daily basis, regardless of which email account I’m logged into. The majority of messages struggle against the tide. But the memorable ones triumph against it by doing something wonderful that catapults them from the ordinary, into the extraordinary. Unless they’re just really terrible. Then, they’re memorable for […]

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Fundraising Friday | September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016

In this week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling theSummerBreakers get serious. Powerful. A must-see video for all. How are you building those lifetime relationships that lead to monthly giving, major gifts, and legacy gifts? How do your supporters know that their gift is making an impact? How are you regularly inspiring and delighting your donors? In […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | The 12-Touch portfolio

August 31, 2016

How are you building those lifetime relationships that lead to monthly giving, major gifts, and legacy gifts? How do your supporters know that their gift is making an impact? How are you regularly inspiring and delighting your donors? In Simple Development Systems, and the Lifetime Donor Attraction System we recommend a bare minimum of 12 […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | The SummerBreakers get serious: a lesson in accountability

August 29, 2016

The convivial cast of the anthology reality Youtube series, SummerBreak, have managed to achieve a feat both exclusive and elusive: they’ve gone viral on the Internet in 2016, just by being themselves within their natural habitat, and recording it for posterity. SummerBreak chronicles the adventures of a group of Generation Z’ers who are surviving as […]

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Fundraising Friday | August 26, 2016

August 26, 2016

  Grab your tissues for this week’s Power of Storytelling. An unlikely karaoke superstar: The story of Ted McDermott The brilliant Brock Warner of War Child Canada is presenting on behalf of our Year-End Fundraising Campaign webinar series. And he’s penned an equally brilliant piece on the the power of emotion in fundraising. What happens […]

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The donor is crying. Now what?

August 24, 2016

The following guest post was penned by Brock Warner, CFRE, Development Manager at War Child Canada. This post and many others like it originally appeared on iamafundraiser.com. Brock is one of many master trainers featured in the Basics & More webinar series, Your Best EVER Year-End Campaign, open for registration now. Every fundraiser earning their pay […]

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