What can you learn from this eye-opening “before” and “after” fundraising appeal? This week’s What’s in my Mailbox.

And we revisit an earlier Mailbox feature to see the difference extra engagement made in this year-end appeal.

How are we framing donor retention? The Agitator’s brilliant Nick Ellinger with The Behavioral Science of Fundraising Metrics. This week’s must read.

Freaking out over the new tax scam law? Russell James is here to tell us that it might not be all that bad. How the 2018 tax law INCREASES charitable giving deductions.

Vu with a very important read for the sector. These 12 adorable baby animals are very worried about the US Census and you should be too.

What one brilliant arts organization can teach us about fundraising. New from Mary Cahalane.

Why do I focus in relentlessly on email every week? Joe Garecht with A Simple System for Turning Social Media Followers into Offline Donors.

Commentary: Too many nonprofit boards lack diversity. It’s a problem that can be fixed.

If you’ve got Netflix, carve out some time to watch this. I promise you won’t regret it.


What the world needs now is love, sweet love… An oldie but a goodie. Beat the statistics by falling in love with your donors.

Learning Opportunities

Would you like to have a clear plan for your donor communications in 2018? One that raises money consistently THROUGHOUT the year, with less reliance on year-end fundraising? One that builds donor relationships from first time to mid-level, to monthly, to major? Enrollment for Your Donor Engagement System closes tomorrow. In this four-week multi-media class you’ll learn how to create your own easy-to-implement *12 Touch* system. Click here to learn more and register.

How will smart fundraisers (like you!) be exploding their fundraising in 2018?

Join us for one of two special FREE workshops, where you’ll discover:

  • Where fundraising is heading — and how you can keep ahead of trends
  • How to develop a realistic (but kick ass) fundraising plan
  • How to create the systems you need to attract and grow your individual donor base
  • The secrets behind stories that resonate with your donors
  • Why “engagement fundraising” is the wave of the future
  • How going beyond major gift fundraising can set you on the path to true sustainability…and more

BONUS: Every registrant will receive their own downloadable 2018 Fundraising & Marketing Calendar AND our newly released Donor Journey Chart. Pick a day that works for you. Click here to save your seat.



What’s In My Mailbox | An eye-opening “before” and “after” fundraising appeal

January 17, 2018

Nobel Prize winning author, Ernest Hemingway, famously said, “The first draft of everything is usually shit.” But stay with it, for oftentimes all it takes are a few simple tweaks to transform your writing into a masterpiece that gets results. Case in point: when Christine White, Annual Fund Officer for East Side Baby Corner, a student […]

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Fundraising Friday | January 12, 2018

January 12, 2018

You’ve heard these words from me before: “Inspire and delight donors.” They’re both at the heart of solid revenue-generating nonprofit communications, and they drive donors to double down on their support. But what exactly does inspiration and delight in communications look like? Find out in this week’s What’s in My Inbox. Anxious over the new […]

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What’s In My Inbox | What does “inspire and delight” look like? MoveOn to find out!

January 9, 2018

You’ve heard these words from me before: “Inspire and delight donors.” They’re both at the heart of solid revenue-generating nonprofit communications, and they drive donors to double down on their support. But what exactly does inspiration and delight in communications look like? How does it take shape? Here’s a great example. MoveOn.org is perhaps one […]

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Fundraising Friday | January 5, 2018

January 5, 2018

Is it easier or harder to set up monthly giving in a small shop? Read my interview with Harvey McKinnon and find out. You can write a letter or an email that’s donor-centered…but your systems might give you away. Donor-centricity. Are you faking it? Even the smallest shop should be incorporating testing. But how? TESTING: […]

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Donor-centricity. Are you faking it?

December 26, 2017

How are you bringing your donors into your mission? This, I believe, is at the heart of the future of fundraising. This is what will take our organizations far beyond fundraising and into the joyful creation of the brighter world we are all working towards. It goes beyond your donor communications, although we’ve touched on […]

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Monthly Giving For the Small Shop | Interview With Harvey McKinnon

December 25, 2017

What’s the best thing your nonprofit isn’t doing that it should be doing to slow donor attrition and build sustainable funding? If you said growing your Facebook likes, or redesigning your website you’d be wrong.  One of the surefire ways to build lifetime donors – and build legacy funding –  is with the creation of […]

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Fundraising Friday | December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

  Batten Down the Hatches! Year-End Fundraising is Upon Us…has a couple of last minute tips you might be able to still use, including a killer free downloadable template (the very one I use in my work) to rock your email ask series. Could the risk of controversy be worth it? If you’re soft-pedaling your donor […]

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What’s In My Mailbox | Marjorie returns in Part Two of an integrated campaign!

December 20, 2017

If you haven’t checked out the Inbox installment featuring Part One of Seniors First integrated campaign, do that first. As promised, here’s Part Two, featuring their year-end appeal letter. They’ve shined the spotlight on Marjorie once again, seamlessly connecting email to direct mail. Great storytelling is at the core of this package’s success. It gives a […]

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What’s In My Inbox | Part One of a nicely integrated campaign, starring Marjorie!

December 19, 2017

I receive a ton of mail, both email and snail mail, from charities large and small. And that’s because I’ve opened myself (and my mailbox and inbox) to it. I’m not just on the constant lookout for examples to point to and showcase here, I’m also doing my best to learn more about what makes great […]

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Power of Storytelling | When is the risk of controversy worth it? Hint: think of the “e-word.”

December 18, 2017

The Bhopal disaster, also known as The Bhopal gas leak, is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster of all time. On December 2nd, 1984, 27 tons of a deadly gas leaked from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. A crippling devastation still haunts the city today. Not only did 25,000 people lose their lives […]

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Batten Down the Hatches! Year-End Fundraising is Upon Us…

December 15, 2017

Can you believe that 2018 is almost here? With only 18 days to go until the end of December, nonprofits are scrambling in a pursuit to maximize their year-end fundraising results. I’ve dropped the surprising year-end stats before… Some organizations manage to raise nearly 70% of their donations during those critical last six weeks of […]

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What’s In My Inbox | Premiums in online fundraising? St. Jude’s makes it work!

December 12, 2017

THIS SHIRT SAVES LIVES. SO CAN YOU. It’s a bold opener for an online fundraising campaign. This one from, from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, specifically targets millennial donors, encouraging them to “Join the movement” through a three-step call to action: make a pledge to donate $20 a month, wear their shirt, and connect through […]

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Power of Storytelling | charity : water’s story will have you reaching for the tissues…

December 11, 2017

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard of the nonprofit known as charity : water, founded over ten years ago by a former nightclub promoter named Scott Harrison. I’ve highlighted them numerous times for their email and online communications, which are consistently on point, and that I want to feature them again should be no […]

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Fundraising Friday | December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017

Blog Roll I love the idea of incorporating our donors’ stories into our website. And many organizations are doing it well, particularly with examples from planned giving donors. But what about exploring this idea even further? This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling. Heifer International produces exceptional fundraising copy, and we’ve featured their digital fundraising examples many […]

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What’s In My Mailbox | Are grandmas really angels in training? A before and after year-end appeal!

December 6, 2017

In November, an emergency appeal letter came in from Diana Russell, Director of Fund Development at Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, a “place of peace, prayer, and hospitality,” based in Ohio. I’ve worked with them before, and they are a Basics & More Alum. Diana asked if I could liven up their appeal, […]

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What’s In My Inbox | Heifer harnesses cuteness in the name of gifting hope

December 5, 2017

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. People aren’t exactly sure about the original source of this quote. Scholars have debated its origins for decades, if not centuries. Nevertheless, its truth and impact has endured throughout time. And […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | What do your donors’ stories look like?

December 4, 2017

I travel from Philadelphia to Connecticut an average of once or twice a month via Amtrak. And when I do, I always take the opportunity to read The National, Amtrak’s bi-monthly magazine. It features some of the best writers around, great regional restaurant coverage, and more. Case in point: I loved the “Getting to know your fellow […]

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What’s In My Inbox | Doctors Without Borders hits all the right buttons

November 28, 2017

The quest to optimize the online giving experience for donors is a never ending one. This isn’t a question of “set it and forget it.” The savvy fundraiser is always paying attention to how individuals interact on their website. And because I am always learning and trying to make things better (and I’ll bet you are, […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | “That’s why your donation is so important.”

November 22, 2017

Development Director Cindy Timmerman of  Community Link has hit a home run with her first-ever fundraising appeal letter. Cindy, who participated in our Best Year-End Fundraising EVER: The System webinar series, made it a point to attend nearly every session live. She notes: “Community Link hasn’t sent anything like this in the past. I’m working with […]

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