What's in my Inbox

In this week’s Motivate Monday – and in our year-end fundraising training materials (from the Your Best EVER Year-End Symposium to the tried-and-true Supercharge) – we speak often to the idea of “warming up” your donors prior to that crucial year-end ask. You want to ease into this territory gently, so that when your ask comes, it’s not totally out of left field. The goal is to motivate your donors to make a gift, after all.

So what does that look like? Your organization can employ a number of tactics. Here are a few…

  1. At your November/early December board meeting, be sure to set aside 20-30 minutes for board members to make thank you calls to current donors. Alternatively, you could send each board member a list of names and numbers.
  1. You might want to send out a one-page impact report prior to your direct mail appeal. This prepping tool communicates to your donors not only that their gift matters, and that they’re making a difference through your organization, but that continuing to make gifts will continue a pattern of positive change. It’s a beautiful thing.
  1. You can connect with your email list through an update, like this deeply personal email from Mercy Corps.

I’ve spotlighted Mercy Corps often, and will most likely continue to do so. It’s abundantly clear why I’ve featured them so many times. Their communications are consistently lessons in donor love. In making you, the donor, feel like you’re there in the trenches right along with them, they convey to you that you aren’t just someone who’s interested in their organization and donating accordingly. Mercy Corps wants you to know that you’re part of their family. Who wouldn’t feel special about that? Their donors are their heroes, and they never want them to forget it.

This is yet another superb example of what we mean by donor-centered communications. Check it out.




Fundraising Friday | December 3, 2016

December 2, 2016

San Francisco-based nonprofit Watsi has a funding model that is brilliant in its simplicity and transparency. And that extends to their annual report. This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling. It’s over with and I hope that yours was great. Sample emails from this year’s Giving Tuesday. Should you or shouldn’t you use an envelope teaser? This […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Nonprofit Envelope Teasers: Yay or Nay?

November 30, 2016

One of my most frequently asked questions during our direct mail fundraising class concerns the envelope teaser. Which makes perfect sense, because it’s not just your average envelope. Done right, it can skillfully set the stage for something great. Direct marketing superguru Dan Kennedy notes that you only actually have two choices when it comes […]

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What’s in my Inbox | How will you stand out in the #GivingTuesday inbox?

November 29, 2016

Sigh. It’s that time of the year once again, slicing through my seasonal cheer in this post-Trump America. The special day that warrants your attention right now? It’s known as Giving Tuesday. In case you’re not in the know or you’re still coming out of your Thanksgiving food coma and have totally forgotten the what, […]

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The future of nonprofit success: Storytelling and Transparency

November 28, 2016

Watsi, a nonprofit located in San Francisco, has a bold mission: to provide healthcare for every person in the world. A nonprofit healthcare crowdsourcing platform, Watsi enables individual donors to directly fund medical care for individuals in developing countries without access to affordable medical care. From Wiki: Watsi’s medical partners included Nyaya Health, Dr. Rick […]

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What’s in my Inbox | T’is the season to be both thankful and creative in your donor communications!

November 22, 2016

You’re always thankful for your donors and their support, but now, with Thanksgiving just days away, you’ve got the ideal opportunity to communicate your gratitude not only abundantly, but creatively. Whether you want to closely tie the holiday into your message of thanks is totally up to you. But a piece that speaks directly to […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Embracing the unpleasant: SPLC uses horror stories as tools to motivate change

November 21, 2016

Now, more than ever, humanity needs stories. Stories frequently fill a void while letting the light in, especially when, at their most powerful, they can be so indicative of our personal truth, or of a truth we know well. Stories are a vital component of our history past and future possible. And you cannot hide […]

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Fundraising Friday | November 18, 2016

November 18, 2016

Election Aftermath: 4 Things Fundraisers Can Do Right Now. It’s time for us change makers to quit grieving, whining and blaming and pick ourselves up by the bootstraps. I have great faith in you.  A new board president (aka the queen of micromanaging) arrives—and she’s micromanaging you. You’re only two weeks into your new job. […]

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Nonprofit Blog Carnival | Giving: it’s personal

November 16, 2016

In The Giving Prescription: A Personal Plan for Healing Through Helping, author Courtney Clark writes: “Psychologists have discovered that helping behaviors, like volunteering, donating, and advocating, are often a response to trauma, and that one of the final stages of the healing trajectory is the desire and ability to give back to other people. That […]

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What’s In My Inbox | What next? Communicating with your donors

November 15, 2016

When I find myself in times of trouble, fellow fundraisers come to me, speaking words of wisdom… For US fundraisers and nonprofit professionals who believe in a country that is a kind, respectful, safe, and aware nation and do their part to make it so, this last week has been nothing short of devastating. Donald […]

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First, we grieve… And then, we turn to hope

November 9, 2016

When I went to bed last night, my nerves were clawing at me from the inside. My anxiety had kicked into high gear, and I was filled with apprehension like never before. At that point, I had but a sliver of hope left that the best outcome would prevail, that history would be made, despite […]

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What’s in my Inbox | Do I want to vote or do I want a goat? How about both?

November 8, 2016

Once again, Heifer International has stepped up to the email communications plate with a piece that both captures my attention and keeps it long enough to encourage me to act, and to act now. I’ll admit it: when I slip political references into my communications; the trappings of a particular position or values, I often […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | A Digital Storybanking Tool for You

November 7, 2016

Storytelling can be hard. Hard to collect stories. Hard to write stories. And hard to reframe your stories for different audiences. In September’s Motivate Monday, guest Allison Carney shared a digital storytelling banking tool she created to collect stories, frame them for different goals, and set them aside to revisit later. In this short training, […]

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Fundraising Friday | November 4, 2016

November 4, 2016

I’ve covered Nashville Rescue Mission’s newsletters several times, and for good reason. Their print newsletter mailings alone bring in over $2m to the agency. Yes, that’s right. Their print newsletter possesses fundraising superpowers of epic proportions. This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Where would Jay be without you? The Fail-Safe Path to Nonprofit Major […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Never skimp on gratitude

November 2, 2016

Does your organization’s mentality of lack extend to the very process of thanking? What exactly is a lack mentality? If you’ve worked in the nonprofit arena for any amount of time, you already know what it is. You probably also know, as is the case with many cultural problems, that pinning down a precise definition […]

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What’s in my Inbox | Happy Heiferween: creative holiday-based marketing communications done right

November 1, 2016

Heifer International is a nonprofit with a global reach. Ever since they were founded in 1944, they’ve been working to eradicate hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to impoverished communities. Their approach to tackling hunger and poverty is a holistic, values-driven one that seeks to provide sustainable solutions. You undoubtedly […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Where would Jay be without you?

October 31, 2016

I’ve covered Nashville Rescue Mission’s newsletters several times, and for good reason. Their print newsletter mailings alone bring in over $2m to the agency. Yes, that’s right. Their print newsletter possesses fundraising superpowers of epic proportions. You know it as well as I do: in the year 2016, in a technology-driven world, the written word […]

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Fundraising Friday | October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016

What can Elvis Presley teach us about nonprofit fundraising? You might be surprised. This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling. When it comes to things like anniversaries and award announcements, how do you make it all about the donor? You’re sure to find lessons in this week’s What’s in my Inbox. Struggling to include your donor […]

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The Fail-Safe Path to Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising Success

October 27, 2016

A subscriber recently sent in his draft for a year-end fundraising appeal letter, asking for my feedback. Of course, my first question was, “Who is your audience? Who will be receiving this letter?” The gentleman, the founder of a newer nonprofit located in the Philadelphia region, sent back a list of names of some of […]

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What’s In My Mailbox | For a heaping dose of donor love, download your free cheat sheet!

October 26, 2016

When it comes to your donor communications, are you making it all about you? About your amazing work, and the clients you serve, and the needs you meet? Yes, the work that you do is wonderful, and so are you. But “donor-centric communications” isn’t some jargon-loaded buzz phrase — it’s the real deal. And it’s […]

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