“Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” Well, whatever aesthetic criteria Oscar had in mind when talking about literature, we can now scientifically say the same for fundraising copy. All I’ve ever done is write copy (I mean, I’ve done other stuff with my life, but not for a living). But it’s only in the past year, since testing and launching the Copy Optimizer, I’ve had any objective criteria by which to assess whether anything I wrote was good or bad. In the fundraising world good or bad is defined by response rate. But despite endless drafts and rounds
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA A reader writes: “My inbox and mailbox are flooded with fundraising appeals from causes using the words ‘terrifying,’ ‘alarming,’ ‘emergency,’ etc. “Yes, we’re in deep sh*t on many levels. Why would they think I don’t know this? The messages only make me more depressed, and depression does not motivate me to contribute. Does negativity and alarm really raise funds?” —John, CEO of a civic education nonprofit Dear John, This is a top-of-mind question for many fundraising professionals. Fundraisers use danger messages because marketing data often (not always) shows they’re highly effective when compared with
The month of December is the most important month for giving overall, and online giving in particular. Approximately one out of every three dollars in annual giving is donated during the month of December. In fact, 28% of nonprofits raise between 26 – 50% of their annual funds from their year-end drive. An additional 36% of nonprofits raise just under 10% of their annual funds from their year-end ask.
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Your year-end drive likely features written and email appeals delivered between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. That’s good … but … Before you make your appeals, you have an important opportunity to say “thank you” — and to do so in a way that is fresh and vibrant. Thanksgiving offers you a perfect hook for kicking off your year-end drive through a Thank-A-Thon — a “Thanks Bonanza” that you can start preparing for now. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thanking donors and doing so in ways that do not come attached
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA As Giving Tuesday comes around on November 30, I am asking you to think deeply before you commit to promoting it. My annual struggle over whether to include Giving Tuesday (GT) in my year-end fundraising plan is in full swing. This year, I am distracted by the gargantuan untapped revenue that you can access from those donors with Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) — upwards of $140 billion. I am asking myself if instead of focusing on Giving Tuesday, would it be more lucrative for me to focus on cultivating and soliciting those donors with Donor Advised Funds? Your
There is a definite flow of philanthropic revenue, peaks, and valleys, throughout the year, distinct times, like the last quarter, when more donor giving is realized. You have to understand when those moments are, and what activities work best to capture the most revenue.
December seems to pack two months of activity into 31 short days. This year, it occurred to me there are a lot of lessons we can learn from Rudolph and our friends on the Island of Misfit Toys, lessons about fundraising.
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA The Thanksgiving holiday is an excellent time to extend gratitude to your donors, do you agree? Before mailing a single year-end fundraising appeal though, you can catch supporters off-guard with a positive Thanksgiving message full of gratitude. Don’t ask for a thing— not volunteer support, not links to social media, not their time, and certainly not their money. Don’t refer to the upcoming year-end appeal or include a donor reply envelope. Don’t mention previous donations. Just tell supporters that, on this Thanksgiving holiday, your nonprofit is thankful for them and why. A nice personal card