Published on March 1, 2016 by

How the poverty mentality is killing your fundraising

How the poverty mentality is killing your fundraising


I believe the poverty mentality of non-profits is one of the biggest killers of fundraising success.

It makes it impossible to succeed in fundraising because the overarching goal of the organisation becomes:

How can we spend as little as possible?

Instead of:

What do we have to do to achieve our mission?

Below are three major warning signs of the poverty mentality.

If your non-profit exhibits this kind of behaviour, I strongly suggest some mindsets need to change.

You urgently need a shift from a poverty mentality to a stewardship mentality.

You may be familiar with the parable of ...

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Published on February 23, 2016 by

How your simplest offer pulls record donations

How your simplest offer pulls record donations


If your appeal results aren’t so hot, one of the first things to look at is your offer.

Charity J, one of my clients, had the best Christmas appeal for over 5 years – up on the previous year by 25%.

And I put it down to one thing (and the client agrees).

A simple offer.

What was most surprising about it was that I didn’t have to suggest it. I didn’t have to get the fundraising staff to wrangle with programs and field staff over whether the offer was “representative” of their work.

And what was this offer?


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Published on February 16, 2016 by

Save this 9-point thinklist for your tax appeal

Save this 9-point thinklist for your tax appeal


I’m deliberately posting this early in the year so you have TIME to think on these things.

And it’s deliberately called a thinklist. Not a checklist.

Because I’m urging you not to just tick them off.

These may sound basic to some of you who have been in fundraising for years. But I notice many non-profits, even the big ones with extensive direct mail programs, still don’t have these right.

And they can be deceptively difficult to get right.

  1. Do you have urgency in your appeal? If donors can’t see why they must DONATE NOW… it’s not ...
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Published on February 5, 2016 by

Is your charity embarrassed about the cost of fundraising?

Is your charity embarrassed about the cost of fundraising?

Does your charity view fundraising as a cost or investment?

Because this has a huge influence on your donor relationships.

Most likely, your charity has donors that ring up and complain about you wasting money on “expensive” mailings.

What do you tell them?

This is the response of a charity that has an underlying belief that fundraising is a cost.

“I’m so sorry… I hate getting mail too… yes, of course I’ll take you off the mailing list.”

It’s the response of a charity embarrassed about asking for money.

Note that 99% of the time, such complaints amount to less ...

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Published on August 25, 2015 by

What happens when you stop direct mail acquisition


Everyone said they were crazy when the American Cancer Society announced they would stop direct mail acquisition.

A huge decision given they mail 41 million piece of acquisition mail. In 2012, they spent $10 million to generate 252,000 new donors through direct mail acquisition.

But it kind of sounded like they had good reasons for making that decision. So despite the naysayers, I always think it’s courageous to try something different.

Eighteen months after making that decision, ACS reinstated their direct mail acquisition program.

You can read about it here, here, and

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Published on July 14, 2015 by

What’s your donor lifetime value: $50, $2500 or $10,000+?

I’ve been discussing acquisition with various clients this year.

And the importance of following up – FAST – on any new donors you get.

Because if you don’t do this, the lifetime value of those donors will remain low.

In fact, you may never recoup the cost of acquiring them… if they never give to you again.

Today’s lesson is: if you’re going to invest in acquisition, have a plan to steward and upgrade your new donors.

Here are the numbers on lifetime value.

A new donor who never gives again has a lifetime value of their first gift only. ...

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Published on October 21, 2014 by

51 fundraising words and phrases that should DIE, DIE, DIE!

In my last post, I had a rant about jargon in charity communications.

This was after an evening of reading appalling non-profit comms copy. And I promised a list of every single weak or jargonish word or phrase I found. Here it is below.

Arranged alphabetically, these are taken from the charity newsletters and direct mail of 11 different organisations.

May I implore you to cast these out forever more from your copy. Your donors will enjoy reading your mail more. Truly.

  1. Access (education, training, clean water)
  2. Accessible
  3. Address
  4. Awareness raising
  5. Brighter future
  6. Capacity
  7. Capacity building
  8. Change attitudes
  9. ...

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