Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? I’ve been pretty adamant the last few years that if something is important to start, I should start it when I think of it and not wait for some external mandatory date to begin (I’m fairly certain that this stance has irritated more than one person). So now, as another New Year begins, I’m assessing what I should do differently this year and realizing that an external date can be a great reminder to routinely assess how things are going.

Have you pressed the pause button to give yourself time to review how things are going for your organization? It can be so easy to jump from one project into the next without occasionally taking a break to reflect on whether or not you’re working on the right things. Sometimes stopping an activity and directing that energy into another project can yield big dividends. What will you stop – and start – this year?

Quote of the week:
If everyone gives a thread, the poor man will have a shirt. - Russian Proverb

Happy fundraising!

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

Awareness / Communications

  • 10 Tips for Almost Perfect Subject Lines As you send your final emails of the year, your subject lines will be even more crucial to your campaign’s success. Here’s a helpful guest post from our friend, Ryan Pinkham of Constant Contact. By Caryn Stein
  • Are you under-communicating with your donors? You aren't communicating with your donors often enough. Okay, you may or may not be communicating enough. But if I'm to believe survey response from Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog, a lot of organizations are so sparsely communicating, they're hardly visible to their own donors. By Jeff Brooks
  • Redesigning your website? Read this. If a website redesign is on your to-do list for 2014, these elements should be top of mind. Of course, there is a lot more to consider when taking on a major website project.  By Caryn Stein
  • Nonprofit Websites that Work: Showcase Your Personality, Passion & Impact So glad to welcome guest blogger Yesenia Sotelo! Yesenia founded Smart Cause Digital where she builds and grows smart websites. By Nancy Schwartz
  • 6 Ways to Tell Your Story With Interactive Maps If you're into interactive maps, it's a good time to be alive! Seems we've entered a golden era of interactive mapping, with no shortage of exciting ways to display geographically-specific data. By Paul Chamberlain

What Others Are Doing

  • Simply The Best I’m never disappointed with how Charity:Water goes about raising funds to deliver safe, clean water to those who need it. Their year-end fundraising campaign is a great example of doing it right. Here’s a screenshot of the email appeal I received. By Tom Belford
  • How One Nonprofit Used Social Media for Damage Control During A PR Crisis That Erupted During a Fundraiser GiveMN has been hosting their giving day, Give to the Max Day for the past few years and working as a peer coach. As part of the work we’re doing together, participants share a reflection of what worked and what they learned from their giving day. By Beth Kanter
  • 12 Days Of Giving Why does Google have to invent it?! Imagine this as your year-end appeal. Twelve days featuring twelve different aspects of your nonprofit’s program, each with a unique giving opportunity, each explained with its own graphic or video. A kind of ‘Advent calendar’ of giving. By Roger Craver and Tom Belford
  • Small Rutland, Vt., gets creative and smashes US blood-donation record on 3rd try After Rutland's 11th annual Gift of Life Marathon collected 2,337 pints of blood Tuesday, the regional Red Cross said it's unlikely to undertake another such drive because of the difficulty of staging it. By Wilson Ring
  • What Nonprofits Can Learn from Public Radio about Storytelling We're in the middle of a renaissance of digital audio online and via mobile technology. If nonprofits want to learn how to create content that both engages audiences and creates devoted supporters, we need look no further than the gold standard offered each day by public radio. By Will Coley

Fundraising Planning

  • The Illusive Search For ‘Big Donors’ So many nonprofit leaders come to me searching for “big donors.” They seem to think that there’s a pool of donors pining around at some cocktail party, wondering where they can give all the wealth they’ve amassed! By Marc Pitman
  • Advisors Still Fumbling the (Charitable) Ball During the past ten years many nonprofit organizations have turned over the reins of charitable gift planning to independent professional advisors; however, many advisors have not taken the opportunity to learn about and integrate planned giving into their practices. By Randy Fox and Gary Shunk
  • 6 Ways To Raise More Money Without New Donors At most nonprofit organizations, the struggle to raise ever-increasing amounts of money never ends. This drives many nonprofits into a continuous donor-acquisition mode. However, you don’t need a single new donor to raise more money. By Michael Rosen
  • Is there a Ron Newell in your donor pool? Did you hear the latest story about an unassuming millionaire? Ron Newell was a quiet truck driver in Dover, NH. He liked kids and animals, especially dogs. Last August, Mr. Newell passed away at the age of 78. Last week, two nonprofits were told that he'd left them $550,000 each. By Marc Pitman
  • Managing Your Annual Fund Before, During & After A Capital Campaign A key question for any nonprofit organization that conducts a major or capital campaign is, “What will be the impact on our annual fundraising efforts?” The simple answer: it’s a balancing act. By Brendan Kinney

Fundraising Tactics

  • 5 ways to turn a cold call into a warm call At a startup event in San Francisco last week, Matt Van Horn, VP of Business at Path, shared five tactics for how to reach people you have no relationship with. By JD Lasica
  • Go ahead, make me You’re probably getting piles of solicitations in your mailbox every day right now. Some frequently used packages always crack me up. I know these are so common because they work – though I’m not sure how “work” is defined, especially in the long-term. By Mary Cahalane
  • Follow the Donor Bill of Rights for Donor Retention Success For many nonprofits, the funding of their mission is often contingent on the fundraising activities happening in November and December. During this time of hectic activity, it might be easy to forget or overlook the important tenets contained in the Donor Bill of Rights. By Jay Love
  • When in Doubt, Throw a Party! If you turn this “meet and greet” event into something really fun, then you’ll create more buzz and raise more money! Believe it or not – this is my #1 motto after more than 25 years in fundraising. But let me be clear – I DON’T mean throw another fundraising event! By Gail Perry
  • What Is the Future of Crowdfunding? 6 Emergent Trends for 2014 Here are six potential trends that I think will emerge over the next year or two in crowdfunding. By Charles Luzar

Online / Technology

Leadership / News / Other

  • Fundraising in an Uncertain Economy The economy has taken a beating over the last few years. In an uncertain economy, nonprofit organizations receive more requests for services, while some donors may feel the need to cut back on their giving. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your fundraising on track. By Ann Green
  • Energize Your Nonprofit Board by Changing Your Vocabulary It's really no wonder the typical board member is terrified whenever you bring up fundraising. The very term brings to mind nagging friends and contacts to (please) give to my favorite charity. But what if there was another way? By Joanne Fritz
  • How Do We Measure Nonprofit Effectiveness? If each nonprofit organization is now creating their own theory of change, and their own outcome and impact measurements, how do we compare those to another nonprofit’s outcome and impact measures? By Nell Edgington