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A Deeper Dive into Donor Advised Fund Marketing

December 11

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One of the biggest challenges we face as an industry is the consolidation of billions of philanthropic dollars into Donor Advised Funds. This has been heightened by the 2018 tax reform. For instance, have you ever used a deadline on your Donor Advised Fund marketing for your year-end campaign? I certainly hadn’t. After all, the purpose of Donor Advised Funds is to give donors the flexibility to receive their tax refund immediately, and then take their time deciding how to grant the money. That last aspect creates a problem for us as fundraisers: how to instill a sense of urgency with the donor concerning year-end giving, now that the donor’s year-end tax break has become moot. How to surmount that difficulty became ...Read more


Your Guide to a Clean Bill of Copy Health – Learnings from DMAW’s Copy Clinic

November 19

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Fundraising copy is a tricky beast to master. Breaking through the clutter—we encounter 5,000 brand and ad messages a day!—is a necessary but arduous task faced by fundraising professionals around the world. Thankfully, copywriting experts and accompanying prescriptions are available to treat symptoms like copy fatigue, feverish wordiness and information overload. Similar to the way several “copy doctors” tag teamed the presentation at DMAW’s Copywriting Workshop, we’ve collaborated to share our reflections on the session. Presenters Kathy Swayze, of Impact Communications, and Barry Cox, copywriter and creative consultant, offered a comprehensive lesson in effective fundraising copy, beginning with the top mistakes that ...Read more


Getting Started with Text Messaging: Part II

October 18

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Everyone seems to be talking about text messaging these days! With 95% of Americans owning a mobile phone, more of us are “meeting people where they are” by using mobile (SMS) as a vital component of an organization or campaign’s communications, fundraising, advocacy and field strategies. More and more nonprofit organizations and campaigns are realizing they need to include mobile (SMS) text messaging in their digital and campaign strategies.  There are two types of mass texting that can be utilized by your organization. Here are some important differences to consider when deciding between peer-to-peer vs. broadcast text messaging platforms. Capacity (i.e. How and Who) As explained under the platform section, one of ...Read more


Getting Started with Text Messaging

October 11

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Everyone seems to be talking about text messaging these days! With 95% of Americans owning a mobile phone, more of us are “meeting people where they are” by using mobile (SMS) as a vital component of an organization or campaign’s communications, fundraising, advocacy and field strategies. More and more nonprofit organizations and campaigns are realizing they need to include mobile (SMS) text messaging in their digital and campaign strategies.  There are two types of mass texting that can be utilized by your organization. Broadcast SMS has been around for 10+ years but didn’t begin to be utilized by major organizations and campaigns until after 2012. Whereas Peer-to-Peer SMS made its first appearance during the 2016 ...Read more


The Carrier’s Curse: Questioning, Testing, and Why Everything Plain Is Exciting Again

Raise your hand if you’ve been here: you’re mailing a package with a heartwarming case for support, copy that hits all your marks in two pages or less, all in a gorgeous, full bleed, four-color carrier. The package is great, the message is strong, and your lists are ready to go. You’re so proud of this piece, you even stick the carrier up on your office wall like your kid’s A+ science test on the fridge. In short, you think it is going to be your best campaign ever—until you get results. Cue removal of package from wall, into recycling bin (or, if this is really not your week, the fireplace). If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. At this year’s DM201 in Philly (and if I didn’t see you there this year, you’d ...Read more


Middle donors and the White House

April 5

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Are your middle donors suffering from middle child syndrome? Do they feel excluded, ignored, overshadowed by the over-indulged major donors and the high volume, attention-stealing low dollar donors?  Organizations are starting to shine the spotlight on middle donors, and rightly so.  The reality is middle donors account for less than 2% of all donors in our programs and yet generate upwards of 30% or more of annual revenue—all without receiving much attention or fanfare.  Middle donor programs are taking hold in nonprofit organizations. In the past three years, organizations with dedicated middle donor programs have seen the number of middle donors increase along with their revenue.  As we take holistic view ...Read more


Reaching donors when you don’t have an “Aunt Bertha”

February 4

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I had the pleasure of attending the DMAW Annual Meeting and hearing from keynote speaker Nancy Harhut about how to hack the brains of donors, members, and other humans. It was fascinating! Nancy shared a story about where her interest in fundraising began – at age eight when, incentivized by a banana-seat bike prize, she was tasked with selling Christmas cards to raise money for her school. Her loving Aunt Bertha helped her favorite niece out by pestering her factory co-workers to buy cards. Aunt Bertha was Nancy’s secret weapon – and you better believe she won that bike! So, how do you reach your fundraising goals when you don’t have an “Aunt Bertha?” The answer: behavioral science. Yes, Bertha standing right in ...Read more


A mail donor and a digital donor walked into a bar…

November 28

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If your first reaction to the title above is, “I don’t get it, is that a joke?”, then you likely were not among fortunate, dedicated marketers, who braved the region’s first snow dusting of the season to attend this month’s DMAW Lunch and Learn, “Digital First: Why Translating DM Content Just Won’t Cut It!” While the title above is not the set-up of a joke, it does set-up a concept that everyone who attended left understanding. That is, while these two audiences may share much in common, each is unique, and thus, each needs to be served differently. Our marketing bartenders for this fantastic educational event were: Kaitlin Juleus, Senior Communications Strategist at Blue State Digitial, Sarah Dunlap, Senior ...Read more


Key Takeaways – National Association of Charitable Gift Planners 2018 Conference

November 8

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Last month, I attended the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners Conference in Las Vegas. This is the premier national gift planning conference, with three days packed with presentations on all aspects of planned giving. I’ve been happy to see an increasing number of panels and discussions focused on marketing – the main driver for a successful program. Here are some takeaways: Worry when long-loyal older donors go silent In his presentation “Baby Boomers – A Very Special Generation or Just Typical Old People,” Russell James rightly called out the lazy thinking that marketers fall into by assuming that donors of the Boomer generation act differently than generations before them. In reality, all the ...Read more


Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits

October 26

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Best Practices and Bold Innovations: Recapping the Best of Bridge Lunch and Learn If you missed out on the 2018 Bridge Conference like me, I hope you made a point to attend DMAW’s Best of Bridge Lunch and Learn on October 18th! At this Lunch and Learn, one of the most popular sessions from this year’s conference was recapped by Kerri Kerr, Chief Operating Officer at Avalon Consulting Group, Myles King, Director of Annual and Digital Fundraising at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Laura Connors, Vice President of Membership at the National Parks Conservation Association.  Entitled Perennial Favorites: Annual Fundraising Campaigns, FTW!, Kerri, Myles and Laura held a discussion on best practices and ...Read more