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My direct mail fantasy, and other myths

November 10

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  I've found the perfect direct mail donor. Her name is Gladys, and she gives to everything I send her, 100% of the time. But I’m not sharing her with you guys.  She’s mine. When Gladys gets a mailing from me, she does exactly what she’s supposed to do. When she sees my piece of mail in the mailbox, she plucks it right out. I think her heart skips a beat. She walks to a quiet place, where she won’t be disturbed. She gets in a comfortable chair. She turns off her phone. And when she opens the package? It’s magic. She pulls everything out of the envelope, knowing exactly what to read first. And she pours over every word.  If I write something extra clever in the 5th paragraph, she smiles. If I’ve somehow ...Read more


11 Commandments of Fundraising Design

November 2

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    I look in the mirror, and I start to think I LOOK as old as Moses, but that’s where the comparison seems to end. Though I do have close to 30 years in the industry, so I guess I have a few things I can share in the upcoming DMAW Lunch & Learn session on November 16th. Sure, designers are natural smartasses. Well, at least I am. So when Tom Gaffny of Tom Gaffny Consulting came up with the title, 10 Commandments of Compelling Copy, I just had to make mine 11. Are there actually 11 commandments of fundraising design? There are actually a LOT more than 11, but the 11th one I will be sharing is my favorite—and I truly hope you will come to this Lunch and Learn with Steve (that’s me) and Tom, so I can ...Read more


Google Analytics and Ecommerce: Learning the Value of your Website in Dollars and Sense

October 24

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When I sat down to attend the DMAW’s Lunch & Learn, led by the Harrington Agency’s Chief Digital Strategist Adam Ruff, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the seminar (which I was happy to discover was a working session) would cover getting the most out of Google Analytics, but to what degree? I won’t lie, there were moments where some terms were lost in translation, but overall, I took away many insightful tips. My biggest takeaways: Ecommerce is the Holy Grail of Google Analytics. The power of Ecommerce can also be best described in Adam’s terms: along with Google Analytics, Ecommerce is the “peanut butter and jelly of website donor strategies.” It tells you what is and isn’t working and gives you ...Read more


The Donor Who Keeps on Giving—How Often to Appeal to Your Monthly Givers

September 29

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At the recent Bridge Conference, I ran into a colleague who asked me the question that many nonprofits grapple with: How often should you ask your existing sustainers for more money? We know that monthly donors are a good source of revenue, but if you aren’t asking for extra gifts during the year, your ‘single’ revenue could go down. How often to appeal to this group, however, can be somewhat of a loaded question. Every organization is different in where they are with their monthly donor program—some have 2% of their donors giving monthly, while others are fortunate to have 20% or more monthly donors. Unfortunately, other than individual organizations’ results, there are not that many statistics (yet) on monthly ...Read more


Lights, Camera, Action: Turning Views into Donations

September 22

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Views and likes are everything nice, but do they really help drive donations and web traffic? According to See3 Communications CEO Michael Hoffman, those likes and views don’t mean much if they don’t turn into action—and that means you have to be reaching the right people. During the DMAW co-hosted webinar “How to Create an Impactful, Reliable Video Strategy,” Hoffman explained that we need to change how we think of video in the fundraising world and move away from these vanity metrics. The first way to do that is to question if video is the right fit for your organization. Video is a tool, Hoffman said, and like all marketing tools, it needs to fit in with your overall communication strategy and goals. Hoffman took ...Read more


Google Analytics & Ecommerce – The Peanut Butter & Jelly of Website Donor Strategies

September 14

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  Do you have the tools to make your digital donor strategies a success but just need some additional expert advice? On September 28th from 12 Noon – 2 PM at SEIU, Washington, DC, we are going to rock your CRM world – with actionable information gained from data analytics. Chief Digital Strategist at the Harrington Agency, Adam Ruff will show you how to make the most out of Google Analytics and AdWords – to save you time and put a dollar value on every page of your site. As a digital marketing guru helping nonprofits advance their digital fundraising practices, Adam is sharing his lessons from the field at the DMAW September Lunch & Learn, Learning the Value of Your Website in Dollars and Sense – A Working ...Read more


MAXI Madness Strikes Again at National Harbor

August 25

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It was a star-studded afternoon as Direct Marketing’s top fundraising experts and their guests gathered at the elegant Gaylord National Hotel at Washington D.C.’s National Harbor for the 38th Annual Marketing Awards for eXcellence and Innovation – the MAXIs! The MAXIs have become one of the industry’s most coveted prizes over the years because of their strict judging requirements based upon the most important numbers we track as an industry. And more than 200 people were on hand to see the 16 Bronze, 27 Silver and 10 Gold MAXI winners receive their awards and enjoy a show filled with the corniest of corny direct marketing jokes—hosted by the lovely and talented Eva Bowie of Garrett O’Brien and the guy some people have ...Read more


Three Steps to a Better Performing Website

July 27

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  Why do your competitors’ websites continuously outrank and seemingly outperform your own? It’s a question many organizations may find themselves asking. But thanks to the relative open nature of the Internet, we can grab glimpses of their digital strategies—and see what’s working. In this post, we will briefly examine steps your digital team can implement today for results tomorrow. From a competitive perspective, we can monitor keywords, backlinks and page count.   Keywords On the Internet, keywords describe the content on your site and make it possible for your audience to find you via search engines. They are the natural byproduct of authentic storytelling on a website or landing page. You ...Read more


From Sacred Cows to Successful Campaigns — Real Life Victories

July 18

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What happens after you tip your sacred cows?  In our previous blogs (one and two), we discussed how to identify your nonprofit’s specific sacred cows — those programs, events, campaigns, and practices that you perform religiously, often because that’s the way it’s always been done. Or sometimes our sacred cows are programs that represent too much of our income — leaving behind untapped audiences that could yield even higher results! Or maybe your organization is floating along without clear results, unsure if your programs are even meeting industry-standard benchmarks. Like we said previously, it takes strong leadership in order to change, and sometimes it takes bringing in an outside agency to point out your sacred ...Read more


Identifying the Sacred Cows That Are Holding You Back

July 12

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Let’s say you’re committed to tipping some sacred cows. You are ready to challenge and evaluate everything: your mission, your approach, your revenue. How do you identify your organization’s specific sacred cows? In our first blog of this series, we discussed the various fundraising practices nonprofits perform religiously — often with the only strategy being “it’s what has always worked” — otherwise known as our sacred cows. We determined that it takes a true leader, someone who is committed to questioning everything they think they know, to tip these cows. And if you cannot emotionally separate yourself from these practices in order to take an unbiased look at what’s working and what needs improvement, it might be ...Read more