Published on December 23, 2013 by

Don’t repeat my mistake when planning for next year

In a nutshell, here is the lesson.

If you’ve got the funds, spend it.

The reason I say this? It’s easiest if I explain by sharing a story of one my direct mail successes. It also happened to be one of my failures.

I once wrote an acquisition piece for a very small non-profit. It was inserted into a variety of publications and did exceptionally well.

When I say exceptionally well, it recruited 392 new donors (doubling the existing database). Income was almost $29,000. The cost was under $20,000.

Given most fundraisers will say you almost always lose money on ...

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Published on December 18, 2013 by

Have you ever made these 5 response-killing copy changes?

Last week I received a Christmas appeal I’d written in the mail. I opened the envelope then pulled out the letter and coupon. And my heart sank.

As a copywriter, I may spend hours putting blood, sweat and tears into an appeal pack. (And I’m not exaggerating about the tears – some beneficiaries have gone through horrific things.)

Then I receive the mailed pack with changes that I know will at best reduce response. At worst, it will make the appeal fail.

This doesn’t happen to me often because I encourage my clients to consult me if they wish to ...

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Published on December 13, 2013 by

6 tips to fix your charity home page slider

How can you improve home page slider usability for your donors? (See my last post on how these sliders are hurting your fundraising.)

In fact, this is not just for your donors. But for all key users of your website.

That’s one of the justifications for using sliders. The need to cater for different audiences. So you end up cramming more content for different users into your home page slider.

Instead, this is my advice for dealing with home page sliders.

Tip 1. Turn your slider content into static links or boxes ...

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Published on December 10, 2013 by

Are home page sliders hurting your fundraising?

A few years back, I overheard a web development officer at an Australian charity. He was proudly saying they were revamping their website home page – and it would have a cool new slider.

Well, they do indeed have a cool-looking slider now. One of those huge rotating banners with teeny tiny dots to click if you want to change images.

I didn’t think much about it at the time. Although I did notice sliders seemed to be all the rage amongst non-profits.

But now I have to wonder at what cost. Especially when I received the results of this ...

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Published on December 5, 2013 by

Why you should use repeated asks in your fundraising letters

First, I’ll clarify what I mean by repeated asks. I mean the parts of the letter, usually highlighted in some way, that ask donors for a specific dollar amount for a specific purpose.

“June, your $50 gift means we can provide emergency food and shelter to a needy person this winter.”

Such an ask is repeated several times, depending on the length of the letter. The longer the letter, the more asks.

Here are two good reasons to use repeated asks.

1. The rule of seven

You’ve probably heard it said that a person ...

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Published on November 28, 2013 by

Beware these 7 overused fundraising phrases

These fundraising stock phrases have lost much of their punch.

Maybe one day they meant something. But now they’re used interchangeably across charities in different sectors – medical and health, overseas development, disability, youth, welfare. Pretty much any sector involving people.

What are these phrases?

You’ll know them (and their derivatives).

  1. Transforming lives (or changing lives)
  2. Saving lives
  3. Making a difference
  4. Having an impact
  5. Most vulnerable (or disadvantaged)
  6. Poorest of the poor
  7. Brighter future

Doubtless, you can think of more.

They are different to jargon in that they’ve probably been used effectively in the past. Samples of past ...

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Published on November 13, 2013 by

That Gmail tab’s effect on your fundraising emails

If you don’t know about Gmail tabs then in a nutshell the concern is this.

All those beautifully crafted fundraising emails you send out to your donors with Gmail addresses will end up under a "Promotions tab".

What the heck is the Promotions tab?

In May this year, Google introduced a new tabbed layout. If your donors use Gmail addresses then they can enable up to five tabs. They are Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. If enabled, Gmail automatically sorts all incoming messages into those tabs.

And the fear is that your fundraising emails will be less likely to ...

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