We’re having a brief respite from the cold as I write this. I have the windows open, Etta James on Pandora and sipping my coffee. A fairly relaxing Saturday afternoon. This follows a fun direct mail workshop that I co-taught yesterday. While direct response has been a part of my work with many organizations, this was my first time talking about it. Turns out I had  lot more opinions than I thought on that subject!

A couple of questions, okay more like concerns, that came up was frequency of mailing. My opinion is that 3-4 mailings is the absolute minimum to keep our donors engaged and giving and there was a little push back on that. The pushback came from a misunderstanding of the term ‘annual appeal.’ Annual doesn’t mean only asking once a year, it just refers to the time period of the campaign. In this case one year. There should be multiple appeals related to that.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re mailing to everyone every time. Blackbaud has put together an interesting white paper related to a tool to a formula to help you determine when to mail to whom.

Please let me know your thoughts!

Here’s my most liked quote of the week (based on the number of likes on my personal Facebook page):

Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it. - John D. Rockefeller


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Here’s a summary of recent articles and blogs related to fundraising and nonprofit organizations. As always, please share this with others who might benefit from the information. Thanks again for reading!

Awareness / Communications

  • Marketing Collateral Materials: Do Nonprofits Need Them? In a world of Twitter, Facebook, web-based fundraising and all the other social media and Internet possibilities, is there still a place for printed marketing materials to support your development program? As with everything else I’ve preached about fundraising, I think it all comes down to one key word: diversify! Diversifying your funding streams is critical to a successful development program. @BloomerangTech
  • Top Ten Ideas for Raising Awareness We just finished presenting a new webinar on raising awareness, where I presented a bunch of different ways to go about it. We polled participants, and here are the ten ideas, in order, that they thought could work best for them. Maybe some of these could work for you too? @KiviLM
  • npNEXT 2013 - Jeff Brooks This past September 30th, Blackbaud hosted over 30 senior fundraising leaders from the largest charities in the US and 10 expert presenters for npNEXT. npNEXT was an experimental event to bring together experts and fundraising leaders from across the nonprofit sector to discuss emerging trends and next practices. Blackbaud recorded the presentations and here is the next one in the series. @npENGAGE

Fundraising Planning

  • The overhead myth and you Dan Pallotta’s TEDtalk continues to spur conversation and (even some action) about the way we evaluate effectiveness. Funders have for too long depended on simplistic measurements, largely how much money is spent on administrative costs, or overhead. @mcahalane
  • The Good News about Giving For several years now we’ve been reading about the impact of the recession on giving in the United States. Declines in giving and donor retention have been a challenge in recent years, but some new data suggests that the giving environment is improving across the nonprofit sector. @NTENorg
  • 3 Questions to Assess Your Nonprofit Data Management System and 6 Questions to Take Action Whether it is fundraising, program, or financial data, you can use data as empirical evidence to improve your organization’s strategies, tactics, and direction. Data takes the guess-work out of strategic decision making and gives you the proof needed to make informed decisions and take informed action. The 2012 NTEN report “The State of Nonprofit Data,“ mirrors this... @JeffHaguewood
  • Offering a Welcoming Community Are you rolling out the welcome mat to your community online and off? If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to strengthen or build your community this year - you’re not alone. @WildApricot
  • The Most Important Tool in Every Nonprofit's Fundraising Toolbox With online channels like social media, email marketing, content marketing, and blogs, in addition to all the conventional fundraising tactics, the fundraiser's toolbox is growing and the tools in the toolbox are becoming more diverse. @HubSpot

Fundraising Tactics

  • Five ways to build donor-centered relationships Every nonprofit needs donors to survive, but we hear from organizations around the country about how difficult it is to get and retain donors. We hear about how your organization is so unique and the best-kept secret in town or how your community is rural and aren’t any big businesses nearby.  @SandyRees
  • This Tiny Change Resulted in Three Times the Donations The decentralized nature of peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the reasons it’s so effective. Instead of just pumping out a message to existing supporters and asking them to donate yet again, you empower supporters to become ambassadors for your organization. When supporters create fundraising pages and share those pages...@stayclassysd
  • Here's a powerful way to get your envelope noticed and opened After the call to action, the element of a direct mail piece that matters most for response is the outer envelope. If you want to move the needle in direct mail response, test changes to the envelope. @jeffbrooks

Online / Technology

  • Anatomy of Highly Shareable Marketing Content Marketing content has two functions: to make the reader react, and then take action. But that action isn’t always to purchase directly. When the goal is to spread the word about your products and services, there’s no better vehicle than word of mouth. @writtenbysumer
  • 6 Tips: How to Make Emotions Lead to Actions in Fundraising Most donations come from people who feel a real connection to the charity. This emotional feeling is what compels people to give. As more and more people go digital, your website has now become a main portal for grabbing future donors. @EVENTjournal
  • 5 Ways to Earn Links to Your Nonprofit’s Website What’s the point of having an awesome website if no one visits? One of the most crucial components of driving traffic to your site is earning high-quality inbound links, or links from other websites pointing to yours. @wiredimpact
  • 5 Favorite Nonprofits to Follow on Social Media In honor of Social Media Week, I asked a few of our favorite nonprofit experts to weigh in on their personal picks for nonprofits who are hitting it out of the park on social media. Here’s what they had to say. @Network4Good
  • Are Facebook News Feed Changes Impacting Nonprofit Brands? If your organization’s communications staff has been trying frantically to get your Facebook numbers back up after a shocking drop in post visibility in December, you are not alone. @npquarterly

Leadership / Other

  • Financing Not Fundraising: Assess Your Nonprofit’s Financial Model I am amazed by the reaction of some nonprofit leaders when faced with a budget shortfall. Some simply shake their head in innocent confusion, some blame an “inexperienced” development director or a “checked-out” board, and others throw together a knee-jerk fundraising event in order to stem the tide. @nedgington
  • Answering Work Emails at Night Makes You a Worse Employee in the Morning We know that looking at smartphones or laptops before bed can disrupt sleep, but did you know that it can also leave you unable to focus the next day? @99u
  • Stuck with Impossible Goals? Here’s Help! It happens all the time. Smart nonprofit staffers come to me and share their secret: the goals they are assigned to accomplish are completely unrealistic. They are in a situation where their operational and performance goals are more than anyone can possibly accomplish. @GailPerryNC
  • To Create Healthy Urgency, Focus on a Big Opportunity There are two basic kinds of energy in organizations. One, triggered by a big opportunity, can create momentum in the right direction and sustain it over time. The other, based on fear or anxiety, might overcome complacency for a time, but it does not build any momentum or maintain it. @HarvardBiz
  • Speed Dating: A Board Leadership Strategy? More than 1,000 potential board members and 150 nonprofits attended a “speed dating” event in the San Francisco Bay Area. Is this kind of event really the only answer to the self-perpetuating board? @npquarterly

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