Posts by Date

May 2023

  • 05/01 What’s the Right Cost Per Donor for Your Organization? Most nonprofits acquire new donors at an up-front loss. In direct marketing terms, this loss is measured as “cost per donor.” It’s an important value that represents an organization’s investment in new donors – what each new donor “costs.” Once acquired, the expectation is that the organization’s new donors will yield some return that exceeds […]

July 2021

  • 07/11 Rule #1 of Smart Direct Marketing: Don’t Sweat What’s Not Working; Amplify What IS Good direct marketing is counterintuitive in so many ways. When we evaluate our programs looking for ways to improve them, we naturally zero in on the problem areas. What problems do I need to fix to make my program better? But instead of focusing your energies on identifying and fixing perennial problem areas, you’d actually […]

May 2021

  • 05/01 Tackling the New Working Environment One Year Later The COVID-19 pandemic has changed entire industries in ways we’ll still be measuring and experiencing in years ahead. But direct response fundraising isn’t one of them. Not really. Not if you were doing it right at least. Before the pandemic, we already knew that for our programs to thrive … We need to maintain new […]

April 2021

  • 04/30 If It Works, Do It Again. Direct response fundraising tends to be consumed in first impressions, rather than in-depth reading of your content. Most of your readers are scanning your work, and not really following the arc of your beautifully created narrative from message to message. Because of this, being repetitive works. Rather than scrupulously picking up where you left off […]

February 2021

  • 02/06 The Dessert Cart Ask String I recently presented 30 Ideas in 60 Minutes as part of a 3-person panel at Fundraising Day in New York. It’s a fast-moving perennial favorite at Fundraising Day filled with ideas to get you thinking and quick tips you can take home and put to work in your own direct response program. If you couldn’t […]

January 2017

  • 01/03 How To Write Bad Direct Response Fundraising Copy As predictive analysts and veteran direct marketers will tell you, there’s no crystal ball for really knowing whether your next direct response effort will be stellar or just so-so. But there is a remarkably accurate trick for telling whether your copy is any good before you hit send and, in turn, predicting where you might […]

July 2015

  • 07/03 Let’s Reach for the Peak at the Bridge Conference!     It’s almost here! The 10th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference kicks off Wednesday July 8. As Co-Chair of this year’s conference along with Deborah Peeples, and humble witness to the extraordinary talent of the committee volunteers and speakers that make Bridge possible, I can assure you there’s no end to […]

February 2015

  • 02/08 In Fundraising, Beauty is Results Like “make it bigger” in graphic design, good direct response fundraisers are well served by a refrain of our own: “Make it plainer.” It’s counterintuitive like so much of direct response fundraising, but it couldn’t be truer. In head-to-head tests, the simplest, least “fancy” email/direct mail/web campaigns almost always win. Like this envelope, for example […]

July 2014

  • 07/16 Inspiration, Bloody Marys and other Takeaways from the 2014 Bridge Conference Hats off to the DMAW and AFP-DC for another stellar Bridge Conference. Kicking off with pre-conference workshops and the Maxi Awards on Wednesday July 9, through 70+ presentations Thursday and Friday, through the powerful closing session from the founder of Free the Children, #Bridge14 delivered 3 days of nonstop information and inspiration. What happens when […]

October 2013

  • 10/25 Habits of Nonprofits with Highly Successful Direct Response Fundraising Programs Having a relevant mission that people want to support is the #1 prerequisite for direct response fundraising success. But it’s not the only one. In fact, it’s not even the most important one when it comes to dollars raised. So why do some nonprofits sail to success in their direct response fundraising efforts when others […]

April 2013

  • 04/10 10 Ways to Improve Your Email Fundraising NOW With online giving continuing to grow at a faster pace than giving overall according to the Blackbaud Index, it’s more important than ever for nonprofits to get serious about their online communications and fundraising strategies. And with one-third of online revenue being tracked to email according to the organizations represented in the newly released 2013 […]

March 2013

February 2013

  • 02/27 Branding + Direct Response Fundraising = Love, Actually Much has been said about the tension between good nonprofit marketing & communications and good direct response fundraising. Good nonprofit marcom thrives on brand consistency; good direct response thrives on brand inconsistency. But when you get right down to it, good nonprofit branding/marcom is actually an essential prerequisite to good direct response fundraising. That’s because […]
  • 02/18 4 Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs a Monthly Giving Program At the DMA Washington Nonprofit Conference earlier this month, I got the chance to speak about one of our favorite things – monthly giving. Yet from some corners, I still heard this: How did you convince your [board / boss / staff ] to invest in monthly giving? For sure, monthly giving isn’t always easy. […]
  • 02/04 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of the Washington Nonprofit Conference The DMA Nonprofit Federation’s annual Washington Nonprofit Conference kicks off on Thursday. With information-rich sessions from leading direct response fundraising minds in the field, it’s well worth making time in your calendar and budget to attend. For the past 10 months, Craig Zeltsar, Tricia Reyes and I have been working behind the scenes with an […]

December 2012

  • 12/30 5 Fundraising Resolutions You Can Really Keep This Year The start of a new year is a great time to weigh up your membership program’s strengths and challenges and set a course for new and improved direct response strategies. But just like resolutions that people make, it’s all too easy for nonprofits to set unrealistic goals and, worse, neglect to build the necessary foundation […]

September 2012

  • 09/12 Perfection is Overrated It rarely pays off in direct response fundraising to wait until you have the perfect words, the perfect design, the perfect data. The secret is showing up. In email, direct mail, online, on the phone. Make a plan and stick to it. Don’t cancel. Just show up. The more you do, the better you’ll get […]
  • 09/06 Fall Fundraising Don’ts If you’re on track with your year end calendar, it probably feels like November at your office – which means you are BUSY! Here’s a quick list of common fundraising pitfalls to avoid in order to create stellar year end campaigns. Don’t focus an appeal on your organization’s anniversary, or your founder’s birthday. Talk about […]

July 2012

  • 07/31 The Bridge Conference Starts Next Week The Bridge Conference, one of the must-attend conferences on integrated nonprofit fundraising and communications, kicks off on Wednesday, August 8. The annual gathering co-produced by the DMAW and the DC Chapter of the AFP brings together 1,400+ people who share a common interest in stellar nonprofit marketing, fundraising and communications. If you haven’t already registered, […]
  • 07/26 The Case Against Bullet Points When have bullet points ever made you think “Wow!”? Or made you stand up and say “I need to do something about this!”? When have they ever made you cry? Never. Bullet points are the blah blah blah of communication. They convey information to our donors but they don’t connect.
  • 07/09 20 Tips for Effective Direct Mail Fundraising Online giving is the fastest growing direct marketing fundraising channel for nonprofits, but direct mail still accounts for the vast majority of funds raised. Of the nonprofits included in Target Analytics’ 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report, direct mail comprised 79% of giving, while online accounted for just 10%. And so as direct […]

May 2012

  • 05/07 Quiz: How Integrated is Your Organization’s Direct Response Fundraising? Integrated direct response fundraising has long been the pursuit of forward-thinking membership and development directors. But integration remains an ongoing challenge for most organizations – almost always for the same two reasons regardless of an organization’s size, funding, or mission. The channels like to change and organizations … don’t. Still, some organizations are much further […]

March 2012

  • 03/06 Multichannel Reigns at 2012 #DCNonprofit The DMA Nonprofit Federation’s annual DC Nonprofit Conference wrapped up last week sending 600+ npdm’ers home with ideas and inspiration for their 2012 campaigns. The conference covered a variety of issues and strategic considerations in nonprofit direct marketing, but a few themes dominated this year’s conference both at the podium and in the hallways. 1. […]

February 2012

  • 02/02 Komen’s Antisocial Media On Tuesday night Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced to the public that it was pulling about $700,000 in annual funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening services. The next morning, amid bad press and widespread disapproval of the decision, they gave us what could very well be the ultimate case study in nonprofit antisocial […]

January 2012

  • 01/09 When Great Board Members Have Not-So-Great Fundraising Ideas Board members are integral to nonprofits. Legally, of course, but more importantly, because of the incredible role they play in enabling nonprofits to run well and make an impact. They bring expertise, ideas, connections, funding and so much more to the organizations they serve. They are awesome. But sometimes, between you and me, they have […]

October 2011

  • 10/31 Charitable Deduction Limits: Limiting Only to Nonprofits? As part of the larger debate on Capitol Hill about jobs, deficit reduction and increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Supercommittee) are considering proposals that would increase tax revenues by limiting the deductibility of charitable donations. But over 2,000 nonprofits agree […]
  • 10/27 Integrate Your Year End Campaigns Recently I attended the DMAW’s monthly luncheon where a packed house turned out to hear Roger Craver, Founder of DonorTrends and editor of The Agitator, share his insights on integrating year end campaigns. For most, one big lesson had to be this: when Roger Craver’s speaking, you can’t afford to miss it. But in case […]

September 2011

  • 09/13 Now More Than Ever It’s a pity “now more than ever” is one of the most abused phrases in fundraising. Because it actually applies now. More than ever. But I’m not talking about the need for philanthropy at a time when 14 million Americans being unemployed is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m talking about our approach to […]

August 2011

  • 08/10 11 Strategies For Extraordinary Fundraising in ‘11 Nonprofits have been soldiering through shaky fundraising territory for the past several years. With the addition of “fear index” and “double dip” to the mainstream economic crisis vocabulary in the past few days, we can probably expect those challenges to stay around for a while and maybe even intensify. So what do we do? First, […]
  • 08/05 Summer Reading Recommendation: The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising If you ever find yourself scratching your head about which tools to use for your fundraising efforts – or how to fit multiple channels together – you might want to pick up The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising this summer. Eliza and I wrote one of the chapters in this new book from Direct […]

July 2011

  • 07/25 Best of Bridge 2011 The sixth annual Bridge Conference on integrated marketing and fundraising for nonprofits ended Friday, but the great content will stay with us long after. Here are just a few words of wisdom from sessions I was lucky enough to attend at this year’s conference: “I’ve never regretted taking the high road.” – Jocelyn Harmon, Care2 […]
  • 07/18 Is the Annual Report Dead? It’s no secret that our organizations’ donors have been moving and shaking in the last decade. Not a week goes by it seems without a new report on the magnitude of their migration online, social, and mobile. One of the most exciting developments in donor communications as a result of all this has been a […]

June 2011

  • 06/29 Direct Response #*¢!ups – Let’s Hear Yours! One of the best national conferences on integrated direct response fundraising is right around the corner. If you haven’t yet registered for the Bridge Conference, taking place July 21-22 in Washington DC, I hope you will. It’s chock-full of valuable sessions representing best practices and breakthroughs in multichannel direct marketing. And with early bird rates […]
  • 06/16 Smart Marketing vs. Chasing Windmills   “What if we just got 100,000 people to each give us a couple of bucks?” “One percent response in new donor prospecting is terrible! We should accept nothing less than 99%.” “Our donors are too old. We need to get younger donors.” “What we really need to do is focus on major donor acquisition. […]

May 2011

  • 05/12 What Personality Type is Your Nonprofit? Like people, nonprofits have personalities. They’re complex amalgams of an organization’s history, mission and leadership. People rarely have any idea how they come across to the rest of the world, and nonprofits are often the same. And yet, as with people, how your nonprofit comes across to the rest of the world plays a huge […]

April 2011

  • 04/27 When to Fire Your Fundraising Agency There are dozens of reasons a nonprofit may decide to part ways with its fundraising agency, and inevitably when the decision is made, it’s for a combination of them. Reasons range from big to small and – truth be told – right to wrong. But the truly big and right reasons boil down to just […]
  • 04/14 Religion, Politics and Branding Want to get a roomful of people who work in fundraising riled up? Forget religion and politics. Talk about branding. Maybe that’s because branding is a lot like religion. And politics. It has its thought leaders, moderates, fundamentalists, left wingers, independents, evangelists…. And like religion and politics, it stands for different things for different people. […]

March 2011

  • 03/15 Eight Ways to Jump Start Your Fundraising Creative It’s easy to develop a fundraising idea. The real challenge in donor development is coming up with fundraising ideas, continuously, so that you can present your contributors with a steady stream of varied giving and engagement opportunities. Depending on the size of your organization, your healthy membership program may rely on you to develop anywhere […]

February 2011

  • 02/17 Direct Marketing Basics are the New Black. Report From #dcnpconf The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation‘s annual DC Conference kicked off today bringing together 700+ nonprofit marketers from all over the country. The name of the conference this year is “Charting a New Course in Changing Times.” But with its focus on the fundamentals of direct marketing strategy – at all levels from beginner to […]

January 2011

  • 01/20 Turning the Tables: What Big Nonprofits Can Learn From Smaller Ones There is no shortage of advice in our industry on what small and mid-sized nonprofits can learn from larger nonprofits. It’s a frequent and valuable topic at conferences and in publications. But larger nonprofits can learn quite a lot from smaller ones too, particularly when it comes to direct response fundraising. Here are a few […]
  • 01/07 How To Be a Better Fundraising Professional 1. Engage. Have you noticed that the best conversationalists – the people you always find yourself drawn to at gatherings – don’t actually talk that much? They ask questions. They stimulate ideas and opinion sharing. And they make you feel energized and special by their sincere interest in what you have say. If you want […]

December 2010

  • 12/22 The Giving Pledge, Donor Retention and Wishes for the New Year The new round of Giving Pledges announced on December 9 has generated fresh excitement and debate. The movement which was started by Bill and Melinda Gates earlier this year has thus far enlisted 58 billionaires who have pledged to give at least half of their wealth to charity. The estimated value of the pledges – […]

November 2010

  • 11/29 The Problem With Year End Appeals I often get asked when the best time is for an organization to send its year end appeal. The problem with this question, and the problem with year end appeals, is that they’re all too often viewed as single events that take place at a single moment in time. November 1, November 15, the Monday after […]
  • 11/16 Why Your Nonprofit Should Use QR Codes (Even If Your Donors Don’t) There has been a lot of talk this year from np techies to fundraising pros alike about QR (“quick response”) codes – those blocky looking codes that, when scanned by your mobile device, take you to a URL or send a phone number or text to your smartphone. We’re seeing more and more case studies […]

October 2010

  • 10/22 Two-Minute Fundraising News Roundup For the time-challenged (aka everyone in nonprofit membership development right now), here’s a quick roundup of some of the most interesting recent news and information from the fundraising world: 1. On October 7, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on a study from Campbell Rinker in which 37% of online donors stated that when they receive an […]
  • 10/13 Three Fundraising Conferences Every Nonprofit Should Attend If you want to hone your direct response fundraising skills and stay apprised of the latest trends in nonprofit membership development, the good news is there’s no shortage of conferences and educational events to help you do just that. Unfortunately that’s the bad news too. With an unending supply of webinars and workshops promising to […]

September 2010

  • 09/23 How to Apologize to a Donor   The author who wrote love means never having to say you’re sorry obviously didn’t know the first thing about direct response fundraising. Direct response is complicated, involving dozens of elements – data, production, content management systems, the post office, and the perfection of mere mortals to name a just few. And so it’s inevitable: occasionally […]

August 2010

  • 08/25 The Worst Reason to Ask Your Donors to Give: Because it’s time to. Powerful fundraising is the intersection of strategy, passion and relevance. Of course we have communication calendars. And we most certainly have fundraising goals. But if you find yourself starting your next development/membership department meeting with “What are we gonna write about this month?” then take a step back. Instead, ask yourself […]
  • 08/12 7 Things You Should Be Doing NOW To Meet Your Year End Fundraising Goals A lot of factors go into year end fundraising success: targeting, message, strategy, the economy, and current events, to name a few. These are big, important, perhaps even daunting, components of how well, or not, your year end campaigns turn out. But another predictor of success in year end fundraising – and one of the most […]
  • 08/04 Make New Friends But Keep the Old If you’ve ever been a Girl Scout, you probably have this campfire song permanently imprinted on your brain. I think about this song a lot as we encounter and test new membership development strategies with what seems to be increasing speed and frequency. As Tony Elischer pointed out at last week’s Bridge Conference, we can […]

July 2010

  • 07/29 5 Bridge Conference Takeaways The Bridge Conference is over, but as usual we left energized by the sessions and the company of over a thousand colleagues dedicated to advancing the missions of great nonprofits through better communications and fundraising. There was no shortage of good ideas and observations at #2010bridge, but these five stood out: 1. The hard ask is […]
  • 07/15 5 Ways to Screw Up Your Next Direct Mail Campaign   The road to direct response fundraising failure is paved with good intentions. Here are five ways you can really harm your direct mail results – so be sure to steer clear of these easily avoidable pitfalls as you start work on your fall appeals: 1. Mail early. If you want to stand out from the […]
  • 07/09 The Boss of You Quick: who do you work for? Most people, when asked this question, will automatically tell you the name of their employer: “I work for Acme Incorporated, where I’m the VP of Sales and Marketing” (or something like that). But “who signs your paycheck?” wasn’t really the question. And you, of course, are not most people: […]

June 2010

  • 06/21 Looking for Membership and Advocacy Ideas? MKDM‘s annual Idea Book is here! Highlighting some of our most effective membership and advocacy campaigns for national and regional nonprofits, the book is part portfolio, part how-to guide, part idea-generator – and it’s yours for free. To order your free copy, email your name, organization/company and mailing address to
  • 06/15 10 Ideas in 20 Minutes from Fundraising Day Last week, I spoke at Fundraising Day in New York with Dennis Lonergan and Jeff Brooks in the session 30 Ideas in 60 Minutes. If you weren’t able to catch our session, you can read the 10 tips I shared right here in Fundraising Success. One excellent question we received during our session was how smaller organizations could […]
  • 06/08 Want to lift your direct mail results? Unbrand. When you really want to get noticed in the mail, sometimes – just sometimes – the best way to do this is to toss aside the things you usually do to get noticed. Ditch your logo. Forget your official fonts. Chuck your PMS colors. Unbrand. Instead, think totally unembellished, pure and simple words on paper. Once a […]

May 2010

  • 05/24 So your donors don’t “get” you. What else is new?   In membership development and advocacy, the things that deliver the best results don’t always align with an organization’s favorite way of speaking about itself or its work. Sometimes an organization’s most important programs or messages – the ones that strike at the very heart of its mission – are the least appealing to donors. So […]
  • 05/09 A Lesson in Online Constituency Building From … Major Gifts   The tools of traditional offline direct response fundraising produce terrifically concrete and immediate results. We solicit our donors, they respond, we measure our results. As the name itself implies, it’s a direct, largely black and white, medium. We either meet our fundraising goals or we don’t. While direct response produces wonderfully immediate and measurable […]

April 2010

  • 04/25 Your Strategic Planning Checklist for April For organizations with a July to June fiscal year, April is the time in your 12-month strategic planning cycle to fine tune details for your new fiscal year and start work on your summer-into-fall campaigns. Fortunately if you’ve stayed on top of your monthly tasks (sorry for posting this one late!), April should be a […]
  • 04/13 Rethinking Reinstatement Good direct response membership programs put a great deal of effort into recapturing lapsed donors, constructing dedicated, and often complex, plans for special solicitation and monitoring of lapsed donors – a.k.a. The Reinstatement Program. That’s because it’s almost always less expensive to reinstate a lapsed donor than it is to acquire a brand new one. […]

March 2010

  • 03/28 Five Signs Your Organization Is Under Asking Its Donors Donor development is a daily exercise in balance, particularly when it comes to solicitation frequency. How often should you ask? Are you asking too often? Or not often enough? Fortunately, your donors answer these questions by how they respond to your communications and solicitations. Here are five ways to tell if you’re not soliciting your […]
  • 03/21 Things We Think We Know The most successful membership programs excel, in large part, because they know how to strike up the conversation with prospective donors. Instead of would you like to make a gift? great membership programs approach us with questions like: what concerns you more: drilling in the Arctic, or deforestation in the Amazon? They ask our opinions: […]
  • 03/17 Your March Strategic Planning Checklist: Part Two By now you’ve wrapped up your State of the Donor File analysis. You still have just a few tasks though from your Annual Strategic Planning Calendar to complete this month: Draft your campaign plan for the new (7/1) fiscal year. Because you’ve spent the last several months analyzing your donor file and identifying your key […]
  • 03/15 Desert Island Blogroll There are many important online resources for membership development, but probably only just a few that we feel we couldn’t do without. Today, I’m highlighting some of the essential blogs, Twitter feeds, and resources that I look to for top-notch information, insight and inspiration on donor action and philanthropy: NTEN, aka the Nonprofit Technology Network. […]
  • 03/07 Your March Strategic Planning Checklist: Part One This month comes in like a lion in more ways than one. For organizations with July-June fiscal years, March is the most intensive month of the annual strategic planning calendar because, among other things, it’s when you’ll complete the analysis portion of your annual State of the Donor File evaluation. This means distilling the hundreds […]

February 2010

  • 02/28 Do You Have an Idea to Share? Fundraising Day in New York 2010 is June 11. If you haven’t registered yet, I hope you will. Not only because it’s the largest one-day conference on philanthropy in the country and chock-full of valuable fundraising information for nonprofits, but because I’ll be doing a rapid-fire session in the direct response track with Dennis Lonergan […]
  • 02/14 Help! My Facebook Fans Are Ruining My Brand Last week I received a great question from a nonprofit that had recently set up a Facebook page. The organization was concerned about another page on Facebook for beneficiaries of its work because the page was run by a fan, and not the organization. Also, while the page didn’t purport to be the organization’s, it did incoporate its name. […]
  • 02/07 Your February Strategic Planning Checklist Strategic planning isn’t a 3-week sprint before your budget is due. Done right, it’s a year-long cycle of self-evaluation and adaptation. If your organization’s new fiscal year begins in July, here are your strategic planning priorities this month: 1. Finish data collection for your State of the Donor File evaluation and start analyzing. You’ve given […]

January 2010

  • 01/31 Integration Revisited “Integration” has been a buzz word in membership development for over a decade, and if last week’s DMA Nonprofit Conference is any indication, it shows no sign of going anywhere any time soon. Ten, fifteen, years ago, integration was about coordinating the relatively limited range of constituency building instruments at our disposal to optimal effect. It […]
  • 01/14 Measuring Statistical Validity in Direct Response Fundraising Statisticians are equipped with a broad range of detailed tests and tightly controlled procedures to determine the probability of an outcome. But direct response testing isn’t done in laboratory. Our lab is the messy, busy, ever-changing world … which means it’s difficult to design a perfect test. In this climate, there are always variables beyond […]
  • 01/03 New Year; Good Old Basics: A 5-Minute Testing Refresher No matter what your organization’s fiscal year is, the beginning of a new calendar year is like returning to “Go” in your donor communications. It marks a reset of your Annual Fund or membership program and the beginning of a new dialogue with your donors that will build over the coming months and culminate with […]

December 2009

  • 12/20 Our Little Facebook Experiment Earlier this year my company decided to experiment with ways we could expand our Facebook community. We were excited by the prospect of widening our circle of friends who share our interests in donor action and philanthropy, from the arcane to the mainstream. But we were also interested in testing new options and possibilities for […]

November 2009

  • 11/30 Snoozeletter or Schmoozeletter? If you’re responsible for creating your organization’s newsletter you probabaly scrutizine every edition for accuracy, messaging, typos and so on. But when was the last time you sat down and read your organization’s newsletter cover-to-cover … for pleasure? Made you laugh, didn’t I?  That’s ok. Most of us are glad to forget our newsletters the moment they’re printed […]
  • 11/19 Five Strategies For Motivating Year End Giving AFTER Your Year End Appeal For many nonprofits, November 15th is the most important day of the year on the membership development calendar. It’s on or within a few days of this date that many of us send our most important direct mail solicitation of the year – the Year End Appeal. And arguably, it’s what much of our work […]
  • 11/10 The Best Point of Entry? Your Door. Good development professionals put a lot of time and effort into creating points of entry for prospective donors to their organizations. You may be familiar with this strategy from Terry Axelrod’s point of entry event model, but the concept of creating opportunities for prospective donors to discover and become engaged in your organization has long […]

October 2009

  • 10/23 What’s Your Thing? Earlier this week I received an Evite for a friend’s birthday party with this at the bottom of the invitation: I was already a fan of the American Cancer Society‘s More Birthdays campaign professionally, and genuinely appreciated seeing it in action on a personal level via Rebecca’s birthday invitation. The power of the campaign is […]
  • 10/12 Strategy First, Content and Tools Second The saying “content is king” has long been a dictum of web design, referring to the importance of desirable, engaging information to a website’s success, as recently affirmed in this CNET report. But in nonprofit membership and constituency development, it’s strategy – not content (or message for that matter) – that rules. Don’t get me wrong; content […]
  • 10/01 Things That Caught My Attention This Week There’s a lot of noise out there and so I am fast on the “delete” (or recycle) trigger. It makes me appreciate the things I notice all the more though … like these stories, emails and letters that broke through to me this week: Nonprofit management salaries. The story was in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA […]

September 2009

  • 09/27 Taking the Pulse of Your Donors The simplest things can escape us sometimes. We get so involved in the details of inspiring people to make donations to our organizations that we forget about our donors themselves. We can tell you how our programs our doing. We can tell you our average gift, percent response, open rate, cost to raise a dollar, […]
  • 09/08 Back to Work Address With Labor Day behind us, it’s officially crunch time for all of us involved in nonprofit development. We have year-end appeals to produce, annual reports to mail, goals to meet and – if we’re real gluttons for punishment – galas to manage. So what are you doing reading this blog? You have work to do, and not […]
  • 09/04 Ask The Nth Factor … About Membership Programs In direct response fundraising, “membership” in an organization is often a symbolic donor status, but a highly effective means of articulating and cultivating donor relationships. A donor is someone who makes a gift, but a member is someone who belongs. Membership conveys a sense of community, a basis for annual renewal and a framework for […]

August 2009

  • 08/27 Helping Corporate Sponsors Do Good … Better If a corporate sponsor offered your organization $10,000 or 100 donors, which would you choose? Because you’re a sharp development person, of course you’re going to choose the donors. After all, you’ve worked hard on your retention rates and lifetime value, so you know that chances are your hundred donors are going to be of […]
  • 08/25 Activism, Slacktivism or Something Else? Recently, there’s been some chatter in the press about the value of digital advocacy, including this article in the Washington Post, and this post by Foreign Policy blogger Evgeny Morozov. The term that comes up frequently is “slacktivism.” Born of “slacker” and “activism,” the term refers to supporting a social cause by taking an action […]
  • 08/12 Ask The Nth Factor … About Newsletters I received an interesting question yesterday about reply envelopes – interesting, because it was really a question about something entirely different: newsletters. Here it is: “Our office has been debating this for a couple days and we were wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your point of view.” The email then directed me to a reply […]
  • 08/06 That Was Then, This is Now – Direct Mail 2.0 Let me just begin by clearing something up. Direct mail fundraising is not dead. (Here’s a nice article from Mal Warwick by the way on why.) In fact, for the vast majority of nonprofits, direct mail is still the most powerful, cost effective means of constituent engagement and giving. But how we’re using direct mail […]
  • 08/02 Best Laid Plans At last month’s Bridge Conference, I learned something entirely new: what it sounds like when 700 people shift uncomfortably in their chairs. That, of course, is what happened when keynote speaker Bernard Ross of the Management Centre announced to a roomful of people who either develop or manage strategic plans for a living that “most strategic […]

July 2009

  • 07/31 When Bad Communications Happen to Good Organizations I love fundraising and donor cultivation communications. In any form. Direct mail, email, websites, newsletters, annual reports, phone calls, donation forms, Facebook pages, you name it. We save most of what we receive at my office – and anyone working or interested in donor communications should do the same. Over the years we’ve built up a library […]
  • 07/25 The Shape of Things to Come In June, Target Analytics released its Index of National Fundraising Performance for Q1 2009 indicating that direct response giving to nonprofits in the Target Index (35 million donors translating to nearly $2 billion in giving) was down in the first quarter of the year. This was not surprising on the heels of Giving USA’s report […]
  • 07/22 Pull Up A Chair Hi there and welcome to MKDM’s new blog. The Nth Factor is MKDM’s break room and whiteboard – a place for ideas and collaboration, open to everyone involved or interested in donor action and philanthropy. We’ll be dropping by every week or so with thoughts, experiences and conversation-starters on connecting with donors – and we hope you’ll do […]