How are small nonprofit organizations using the power of direct mail to love their donors? Join us every Wednesday for What’s in my Mailbox.

When I mention a minimum of 12 ‘touches’ per year to clients and Grow Report readers, I’m often met with slack-jawed dismay.

“Twelve touches??? We can’t afford 12 newsletters a year!”

Yes, if your donors are true partners, if you’re thinking of them as the ‘friends’ that they are to your work, 12 touches a year is the minimum. Several of those touches will be thank you’s. And, yes, some will be newsletters, both print and electronic.

Simple Development Systems member, OneJustice has developed a calendar of communications that makes their donors feel both valued and informed. This one-page Impact Report arrived in my mailbox recently.

What I liked…

Profuse appreciation and focus on you and what you, the donor, are accomplishing. “You are one of those amazing people, and we simply cannot thank you enough.’  ‘Thank you so much for your generous support , and for making all the difference for Californians in need.’  ‘This past year, you brought vital legal services to 117 low-income veterans living in rural California.’

I love the client testimonials and how OneJustice, a legal organization, explains their work in terms the donor can understand.  Click the image below to read the PDF.


SDS Member,  Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon has created a personalized in-house Impact Update, where numbers come alive — and the donor is given all the credit.  Click the image to read the 2-page Update.



What’s in my Inbox | Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

August 26, 2014

How are small nonprofit organizations using the power of email to love their donors? Join us every Tuesday for What’s in my Inbox. Nearly two decades have passed since the release of the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. I love how Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation‘s  recent email reminded supporters of the timeless beauty of the film…and […]

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Keeping your fundraising real

August 25, 2014

In the midst of every other nonprofit organization trying to figure out how to create their own ice bucket challenge, Simple Development Systems member Rachel Stephenson Ramjattan shared with me this inspirational story of how Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill developed a life-changing relationship with a next-door millionaire and his wife (click to read the entire […]

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The only Ice Bucket Challenge video you really need to see

August 22, 2014
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Fundraising Friday | August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014

How are small nonprofit organizations using the power of direct mail to love their donors? Join us every Wednesday for the new weekly feature, What’s in my Mailbox.  This week’s focus:  thank you’s. “A well run organization doesn’t have a marketing department.”  New from Jeff Brooks, 6 signs of a well run nonprofit organization. When […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Nonprofit Thank You’s

August 20, 2014

How are small nonprofit organizations using the power of direct mail to love their donors? Join us every Wednesday for What’s in my Mailbox. Loved this thank you letter from the New York City Anti-Violence Project, featuring impact, a terrific close (“With gratitude for all you do,”) and a personal touch (click to read).   […]

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Fundraising Friday | August 15, 2015

August 15, 2014

Please don’t be the kind of leader who cares more about growth than retaining existing donors.  It’s tempting, I know.  But it’s the wrong way to fundraise.  New from Veritus, Familiarity Breeds Contempt. The Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision makes it harder and harder to know who’s on your side.  The landscape abounds with ‘not-for-profits’ […]

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Should board members be required to give? | 100% board giving — here’s how!

August 13, 2014

It goes without saying. For most nonprofit organizations, 100% of your board should be contributing financially. But in a Small Shop Fundraising Survey I conducted a few years back, an astonishing 55% of organizations reported that they did not have 100% board giving. How can you reasonably expect others to contribute financially to your organization […]

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Nonprofit Email Marketing 101 | Case Study

August 6, 2014

The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is one of the organizations that has been a standout so far in my ‘Two Gifts a Week’ unofficial online giving study, thanks to their ease of giving and excellent email follow-through. I sat down recently with Kathleen Kennedy, Development Director for the Sonoran Desert Protection to talk about […]

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The shocking secret ingredient to growing your nonprofit’s individual donor base

July 21, 2014

Why do your donors give? It’s not because of your awesome mission or the 1,723 kids you served last year. It is, in all simplicity, because of what they are doing through you. Your donors are changing the world! But so many nonprofit organizations miss the mark. Last year I saw a post on the […]

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Five Great Non-Fundraising Fundraising Books

July 16, 2014

Books for the nonprofit sector are wonderful tools for helping you to navigate the world of fundraising and communications, board training, and grant proposal writing. But sometimes the world of nonprofit fundraising can be a bit…shall we say, insular? In addition to reading all the latest fundraising-specific books, I make it a point to read […]

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Reduce donor attrition by a third with one simple habit? Easy!

July 15, 2014

My regular newsletter readers have heard me tell this story many times.  How I first read this article called The Sound a Thank You Makes by Hildy Gottlieb over a decade ago.    About how it so resonated with me that I put her advice into practice from that day forward, in every development position, and […]

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Remembering Michael | Do you have a plan for in-memoriam gifts?

July 14, 2014

In the weeks immediately following my youngest daughter’s birth, tragedy struck. One of my best friends lost her eight year old son to a form of pediatric cancer. I don’t imagine anything can quite prepare you for the loss of a child. And for friends and family members, the pain is deep. What do you […]

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Nonprofit Online Fundraising | Does Your Organization Pass the Test?

June 30, 2014

In March of 2014, I embarked on an unofficial online giving study. Every week I’ve been making two online gifts of $20 each to various nonprofit organizations randomly selected from my own database of subscribers. What am I tracking? First off, overall ease of giving: how simple is it to find the organization’s ‘donate’ button […]

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3 Tips to Turn Programs & Development into a Power Couple

June 23, 2014

Today’s guest post comes from Rachel Muir, CFRE. One of my favorite fundraisers recently told me, “Rachel, it’s like programs and development had a shitty divorce and they’re only speaking to each other because of the kids.” Does that describe the culture at your nonprofit? You may have divisions between programs and development or in […]

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Giving USA 2014 | Where are smart fundraisers putting their efforts?

June 19, 2014

Giving USA 2014, The Annual Report on Philanthropy that shows us, year after year, where the “big money” in nonprofit fundraising really is, has just been released. The highlights: Total estimated US charitable giving increased by 4.4% – to $335.17 billion Individual giving saw an increase of 4.2% Foundation giving increased by 8.7% Bequest giving […]

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What does donor-centered fundraising really look like?

June 17, 2014

The following guest post, from Rickesh Lakhani, Director, Campaign for United Way York Region. was originally published in 2012 on PamelasGrantwritingBlog. During the second round of a direct mail campaign, we received a second annual donation from a long-time, loyal supporter. She is an elderly lady, on a fixed income, and contributed a single donation […]

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Writer’s blocked? Don’t be! Read this…

June 9, 2014

Writer’s block can strike anytime, anywhere. All too often it appears when you have deadline breathing down your neck. There you are, working hard to get that annual appeal wrapped up by Thursday – no problem. Except it’s Wednesday afternoon and you still have a blank page. Maybe you haven’t been able to write. Maybe […]

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When Board Members Say “I’ll Do Anything But Fundraise” | 4 Tips

June 2, 2014

It’s easy to kvetch about our board members, isn’t it?  See if any of these statements (or all of them) resonate with you: “They think it is all about finding the next big corporate sponsor, rather than taking care of current donors and donating themselves.” “A board that doesn’t understand it’s governance & resource development […]

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Donor data is your friend! 5 steps to get you started

May 22, 2014

Do the terms “predictive donor modeling,” “data mining,” or “fundraising performance metrics” make your eyes glaze over and inspire you to hide under your desk? Intimidating consultant-speak about data analysis can make small nonprofits tune out and turn off. These phrases give the impression that data analysis is for organizations with multi-million dollar campaigns and […]

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