In this special episode, I reflect on the lessons I've learn over these years and share the five secrets successful fundraisers know. You'll learn how to demonstrate urgency, how to be more direct with your ask, a mistake you're likely making in how you talk to donors, a lesson on using facts to motivate donors, and key insights into showing gratitude. These lessons, learned over the course of raising tens of millions of dollars, will help propel you forward as a nonprofit fundraiser.
Clarity is the enemy of confusion. Bringing a clear message in your appeal will help the reader understand exactly what you're asking for and why they should give. You may have heard the phrase, "if you confuse, you lose." If the reader gets confused or mixed up in your messaging, the default option is to
"Dave, in our weekly staff meeting, our programs team came up with these 37 ideas for fundraising," Phil says. Dave reads the report, "Number 4, educate more and ask less. Number 13, use more facts and statistics." Phil remarks, "I think Number 27 is the best." "Ask the Gates Foundation for a grant."
Story is embedded into who we are. The best stories feature focus on a single character. This character could be a beneficiary, a donor, or any stakeholder. The best fundraising stories communicate how the reader can make an impact. When I first arrived at Food for the Hungry, our direct mail appeals used vivid stories
"Dave, I need you to rewrite this fundraising letter and remove all of the language that makes us look like we need the donor's money," said Wendy, the Executive Director. Dave replies, "We'll lose donations doing that." "I also need you to raise 10% more than your goal, thanks." Wendy responds.
Let's focus on changing one thing in our donation funnel that doubles our conversation rate of donors. By changing just one metric - improving it through testing - we can double the number of people giving digitally.