Content Truths – #8 is really good

Jeff Bullas, an online marketing guru, recently posted 10 Truths about Content Marketing that every fundraiser should read. Especially #8. How does the content of your fundraising messages measure up to his truths? Does it move you? Is it multi-media? Are you adding more content, or great content? Are you consistent? And most importantly, is

Facts vs Feelings

In many areas of life, facts take precedence over feelings. Please note however that fundraising is not one of them. Donors want to feel good about helping you. Some want to feel like heroes, some want to feel needed, some want to know their gift did something amazing. Your challenge is to make sure they

Before and After

We love success stories that include before and after pictures. While my photos are not completely accurate, I did have to wear head gear 24/7 in the 8th grade. Yes, let your imagination run. Those were dark days. Thankfully, the head gear and braces eventually came off, and I had a couple dates in high

What’s Important?

What’s important… That’s a great start to a question, but how you end the sentence is what matters most to your success. So, at your organization is it “to me?” or “to my donors?” Penelope Burk’s research says most donors don’t care about seeing their names listed in your newsletters. What they do care about

Second Helping

When dining at someone’s home, how do you get a second helping? It’s really quite simple. Let your host know how incredible the meal was and how much you appreciate the effort. He or she will gladly offer seconds. Nonprofits need to take a similar approach to getting a second gift. This is critical to

Thanksgiving

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving; a celebration going back to 1621 when a group of people from different backgrounds gave thanks for what God had given them. 200 years later President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated the last Thursday of November. In Lincoln’s words, it was to

Social Distance

Social Distance is a concept sociologist use. It is defined as the degree to which people are willing to accept and associate with those having different social characteristics. For example, someone living in an urban area can better relate to other people in urban areas compared to someone from a rural area. Those living in

Name?

Scott – it’s a name I’ve loved for over 57 years. Scott Swedenburg feels like I’m signing something and Mr. Swedenburg is my dad. I’m sure there’s a name that you really like. Names are also very important in your fundraising. Donors and prospects like to see their name (especially when it’s spelled correctly). You

Hero

We need a Hero! Who is the hero in your fundraising – your organization or your donors? Consistently, organizations make themselves the hero. We did (fill in the blank)…We’ve been serving our community….Our staff was able to…and so it goes. Not one word about the donor. This mistake is seen across the fundraising landscape -

PB&J

While peanut butter has been around since the late 1800s and jelly even longer, the first known PB&J was thought to be eaten by soldiers in WWII. It took a while to bring these two great foods together. Direct mail and email are the PB&J of today. Both fundraising channels have been around for a

Facebook Fundraising

Forget posting your lunch and videos of your cat. Instead, let’s give our donors an easier way to donate. Facebook will soon offer a new fundraising tool for nonprofits. You will be able to launch specific campaigns on your Pages, and let users see how many people have donated, how much money you need to

Lost Art of Listening

Dumbo does have one advantage over the rest of us…BIG EARS. Listening is a lost art. This is true of many fundraisers. We get so excited telling everyone about the great things our organization is doing that we forget to listen. Donors may support your organization for any number of reasons – many of which

I Feel Good

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ? Maya Angelou Every donor wants to feel good about his or her giving. Is your organization creating good or bad feelings? It starts with how you communicate. Is the focus

What day is it?

It’s hard keeping up with days these days. When I was a kid, we didn’t have all these special days. Doughnut Day is the first Friday in June and I got a free doughnut that day. The third Wednesday in October is Hagfish Day, and the last Monday of January is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

Phone Manners

As a child, it was a big deal to answer the phone and make calls. Plus, what great exercise dialing a rotary phone. For that privilege, we had to use our phone manners like being friendly. Is your website mobile friendly? If not, you've probably seen a drop in your website visitor traffic. Google is

Picture Is Worth a Million Words

If you were like me, all my favorite children’s books were filled with pictures. It made the story so much more interesting. In 1911, the expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words” was first published in a newspaper. With inflation, today’s pictures are now worth a million or more. Then why are images

Riding Sharks

Who’s up for riding a shark? Despite the recent increase in shark attacks, it does look fun. Okay, forget sharks for a moment. Are you willing to take a risk when it comes to your fundraising? I am constantly being told, “this is how we’ve always done it” and “our donors are different, they wouldn’t

Encyclopedias

Years ago, an encyclopedia was my only resource for finding information about a person or organization. And if there was any information, it quickly became outdated. Thankfully, that’s not the case today. Encyclopedias are selling at flea markets and a world of information is now at your fingertips. Then why don’t more organizations provide current

Going Digital

Digital Fundraising continues to post double-digit growth. These exciting new channels are allowing nonprofits to reach a new audience of donors. Are you getting your share of the digital donation? Fundraising campaigns should no longer be thought of as a single channel like direct mail or e-mail. Multi-channel approaches keeps donors engaged “where they live.”

What’s on your list?

As 2014 was ending, everyone released their lists of the best and worst movies, books, reality shows, etc. What’s on your best and worst lists? Make a list of the best things you did last year in each area of your life – family, spiritual, career, health, and so on. Then make a list of

Survey Says

Survey Says No, we’re not referring to the top 8 answers on Family Feud. Instead, do you know the top 8 things your donors are saying about you – good or bad? In The Agitator’s research with 250 nonprofits in the US, Canada and the UK, they found: For every donor who registers a complaint

Thanksgiving

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving; a holiday that started in 1621 when a group of people from different backgrounds gave thanks for what God had given them. 200 years later President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated the last Thursday of November. In Lincoln’s words, it was to

Double Vision

Double vision is the new norm. Breaking Bad averaged 6 million tweets per episode. That means Breaking Bad viewers were watching the show and at least one other screen at the same time. Why is this important to marketers and fundraisers? Customers and donors are becoming more like those viewers. They have new expectations on

What’s Important?

What’s important… That’s a great start to a question, but how you end the sentence is what matters most to your success. So, at your organization is it “to me?” or “to my donors?” Penelope Burk’s research says most donors don’t care about seeing their names listed in your newsletters. What they do care about

Improv

The definition of improvisational comedy and acting is all of what’s performed is created at the moment it’s performed. We don’t think about it much, but much of life is improv. I had planned to visit clients and future clients during the month of August. After surgery to repair a torn Achilles, I obviously had to

Content Fundraising or What’s Behind Door #3

Many of you may have seen the game show Let’s Make a Deal. At the end of the show, contestants choose between 3 doors for the grand prize. Sometimes you won a new car, and sometimes you won some worthless gift like an old wheelbarrow. One of the new trends in fundraising is Content Fundraising.

Salt and Pepper

I love salt and pepper on a lot of the food I eat. Together, these 2 seasonings enhance the overall flavor of my meal. No one has ever asked me if I wanted the salt or the pepper or which one I thought was better. In fact, I’ve never tested using one versus the other.

How to Say Thank You

After a year sabbatical. I'm back. Growing up, my Mom constantly stressed to us kids the importance of saying “Please” and “Thank you.” There were consequences too when we didn’t. As fundraisers, we have no problem with the “Please” part when asking for a gift. It’s the “Thank you” when we receive a gift that

And I Survived!

Middle school can be a time of character building. During my 8th grade year, the orthodontist put me in a headgear that I had to wear 24/7. That means during school. Children were just as cruel in 1972 as they are today. And I survived! Several girls actually agree to go out with me later

Second Helping

When dining at someone’s home, how do you get a second helping of food? It’s really quite simple. Let your hosts know how incredible the meal was and how much you appreciate their efforts. They will offer seconds. Nonprofits need to take this same approach to getting a second gift. New donor retention rates are

What to do with the 99%

There’s been a lot of debate recently about the top 1% in the United States and their value. It’s an interesting debate since the 99% in the US would be in the 1% when compared to most of the world. Which one is better – 1% or 99%? In direct marketing, you love the 1%

10 Best List

It’s that time of year again when everyone releases their annual 10 Best lists – best movies, best books, best TV shows, best dresses, etc. What’s your 10 best list? Make a list of the 10 Best things you did this year – ran a marathon, volunteered at a rescue mission, started a new business,

Lifetime Value – LTV

Have you ever judged the potential value of a relationship based on the ROI from the first date? I hope not! Eventually you choose your spouse based on their LTV – love, companionship, stability, caring and other endearing traits. You don’t choose a spouse based on the first date costing $78. And the same reasoning

Cheating

School is starting and before long a student will be tempted to cheat. Looking on someone else’s paper may improve your grade short-term, but long-term it’s trouble. And it can be trouble for your organization.  And that cheating is taking place using SEO. See Forbes article. Using these optimization technique

Builder or Destroyer

Just returned from an incredible trip to Israel. One of the highlights was seeing the old city of Jerusalem. Throughout its history, the city walls were continually being built by one group and later torn down by another group. To which group do you belong? Are you trying to build something great – your organization,

Marriage

I must be getting old. My son got married. It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful time with friends and family. The happy couple have returned from their honeymoon and started work. Now comes the fun part - life together. All the stuff you didn’t have to deal with when dating and going to

What A Special Day

In my last blog post, I shared 3 of the Funniest 50 Tweets of 2011. There was another tweet in that list worth sharing. #24 by Mike Drucker @MikeDrucker – “Stop saying “11/11/11” only happens once in a lifetime. Every date only happens once in a lifetime. That’s how time works.” There are a couple

End of Year Laughs and Thoughts

Reading the Funniest 50 Tweets of 2011 produced both laughs and thoughts. #41 by Josh Hara @yoyoha – “I just want people to accept me for who I pretend to be.” As I’ve gotten olde

Social Trends Part 3

Here’s the final installment of my thoughts on Gini Dietrich’s 8 Social Media Trends for 2012 as they apply to nonprofit organizations. Trend 6. Social Commerce. The other day I was in the Apple store and I checked i

Social Trends Part 2

Here’s the second installment of my thoughts on Gini Dietrich’s 8 Social Media Trends for 2012 as they apply to nonprofit organizations. Trend 3. Integration of All Disciplines. Integration is going to be crucial next year. Today we talk about mobil

Social Trends Part 1

At the end of every year, it’s trendy to forecast trends for the upcoming year. Gini Dietrich recently shared 8 Social Media Trends for 2012. And I’d like to build a little on her great insights as they apply to nonprofit organizations. Trend 1. Reporting to All Stakeholders. Companies are not just doing investor relation

Occupy Thanksgiving

The Occupy Wall Street protesters have raised some legitimate concerns. However, I’m not sure I’d call them the 99%. It’s always dangerous to start comparing yourself to others, because you usually only look up the ladder...never down. Compared to most of the world especially places like Sudan, the Occupy Wall Street protesters are the 1%.

Halloween Costumes

Who’s the real bear in the picture? Of course it’s me in the Yogi Bear costume.   Obviousl

The Great Pumpkin

Hopefully you’ve seen all the Charlie Brown TV Specials, which first aired in the 1960s. One of my favorites is the Halloween Special with the Great Pumpkin. Linus believes that on Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch bringing candy and toys to all the good boys and girls. Instead of trick-or-treating

What Scares You?

When I was a wee lad, the bad witch in The Wizard of Oz scared me to death. Even watching her riding that bike with Toto in the basket gave me chills. As I got older, other films like The Exorcist

Losing Face

This fall my family is helping host two students from China. These students are attending Samford University, and the university wants to enhance their exposure to our community and culture. While reviewing some of the do’s and don’ts, we were told to expect a gift from our students and to definitely accept it. Gift giving

Thrills

In a recent blog, Seth Godin shared the 3 things customers (and I would add donors) want. 1.      Results - this one is obvious. Accomplish something. 2.      Thrills - this one is a little harder to define. It’s the excitement…the wow factor. 3.      Ego – this one is easier. It’s the need to feel important…to

The Late Show

After many trips to NYC, I was finally able to see David Letterman, and enjoyed the experience. One of the interesting aspects of the show was their instructions on laughing. While outside the theater, we were given instructions on when and how to clap and laugh. Once inside, we again got instructions both on video

Sandcastles

As a child, did you ever build a sandcastle at the beach? If the answer is yes, then you know what happens next. Your big, beautiful sandcastle is kicked, stepped on and eventually washed away by the waves. The results of all your valuable time, effort and resources are gone in a very short time.

Trends????

Recently I read an article on fundraising trends. The last trend mentioned was the need to build relationships with your donors. Is it just me or is this trend blatantly obvious and something successful nonprofits have been doing for years? I do agree with the writer that more competition has heightened the need to build

Sympathetic Ear

Every good husband knows that when his wife comes to him with a problem, usually she is not looking for a solution but a sympathetic ear. This need doesn’t apply only to wives. Everyone wants to feel like they’ve been heard and understood. Recently my brothers and I were having a closely contested golf match

Strengths 2.0

My last blog stressed the importance of including others. A few days after writing it, I took an online test associated with the book, Strength Finder 2.0, to determine my strengths. One of mine happened to be Includer. The premise of the book is that it’s much more valuable to focus your efforts on developing

Who Cares

I haven’t posted to my blog in a couple weeks and that’s good. I had nothing of value to share. Do you know people who have nothing of substance to add to a particular issue, yet will say something anyway? Many of the tweets and Facebook updates I read seem to have little value. It’s

Trends

At the end of every year, experts release a new list of trends for the coming year. These trends cover a myriad of interests - pop culture, fashion, technology and so on. The question is should you pay attention to these trends? Here’s a partial list of pop culture trends from 2000. 1.      Reality Television

Connected II

My December 17th blog discussed our need for feeling connected and how the Christmas season provides that feeling in ways social media can’t. Let’s continue looking at this growing trend of wanting to feel connected. In a study by Euro RSCG

Merry Christmas

I’m hearing those words a lot less these days and that’s too bad. No matter what your faith or beliefs, it’s truly a wonderful time of year. People tend to be more giving, friends have parties, families gather and one or two of you may even get a kiss under the mistletoe. These are all

Connected

Sending cards, having parties, being with friends and family, eating, giving gifts…the list goes on and on. We are in the middle of the Christmas season and all its activities. And every one of these activities connects us with another person. As social media continues to grow, we are starting to experience a little backlash.

R&D

As you begin planning for 2011, make sure to budget both time and resources toward trying something new. This applies to your business and personal life. In the marketing and fundraising world, we are constantly testing new ideas for our clients and for our own business. The first step is to spend time thinking, which

Thanksgiving

In two days, it will be Thanksgiving; a holiday that got its start when a group of diverse people gave thanks for what God had given them. That was 1621. Later in 1789, President George Washington proclaimed November 26th to be a national day of thanksgiving and prayer. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a

The Clock Is Ticking

How much time do you have to make a good impression? Dallas Teague Snider

Thankful

November 2nd was a sad day. Nick Bell died of cancer. Earlier this Septembe

Halloween Costumes

It’s October 31, 1963 and I’m standing in the door of my grandparent’s home wearing a Yogi Bear costume. You know the kind of costume I’m talking about – an uncomfortable mask with the cheap plastic outfit that you stepped into and tied in back. I was ready to fill my bag with candy. That

Awards Are Nice, But…

As one of the judges for Fundraising Success’ Gold Awards, I had the opportunity to review some amazing direct mail packages. And I would like to congratulate the Muscular Dystrophy Association for winning Best of Show. Their package was mailed to 3,279 donors who had made one or more gifts of $100 or more in

What’s Your Addiction?

Chocolate, football, shopping,.…? As a nonprofit, you want your donors addicted to giving. The good news is that your actions along with your donor’s brain play a big part in making that happen. Studies show that when you donate money, your brain’s mesolimbic system is activated. This is the area of your brain that responds

Welcome

Picture the entry way to your home. Is there a mat at the front door that says “Welcome”? Does the doorbell work? Does the front door need a little paint? When you walk in is the area well lit and inviting? Do you answer the door in your bath robe and slippers? All these little

Clinging to Idols

The Prophet Jonah shares an important lesson for all of us in Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” This is a part of Jonah’s prayer while he’s in the belly of a fish. He’s teaching us that when we put our priorities on things other than

Be Interesting…Be Entertaining…Or Don’t Bother

Your family will usually listen to you even if you’re boring. Shame on you for torturing them! If you want someone to listen to your idea, you’ve got to make it interesting, entertaining or both. You might have an idea that will change the world – a new book, movie, blog, website, business, mouse trap,

Thank You

Two simple words, yet what an impact. You might have seen the commercials a few years ago where two women (one being overweight) meet in a grocery store. The smaller lady asks the overweight woman about her pregnancy. She tells the smaller lady she’s not pregnant and starts to get mad. The smaller lady, thinking

Be Different

I recently returned from a mission trip to Sudan. What an incredible experience! There are so many great stories to share. One day we visited a small market near our village. Many of the vendors had straw mats displaying fruits, vegetables or eggs. The more upscale retailers had erected crude wooden booths with tin roofs,

Social Exodus

Is the sky falling? I’m not sure, but I do know Miley Cyrus left Twitter. And she’s not alone. According to a February 10, 2010 USA Today articl

What Color?

Victoria’s Secret seems to be a very popular place around Valentine’s Day. It’s filled with women and men looking for the right gift in the right color. This interest in color has been very prevalent recently on Facebook as well. Like me, you may have noticed that many of your female Facebook friends have been

Zoned Out

Do you need to solve a problem, be more creative or think of a new idea? Forget playing with toys or brainstorming with a group. Go zone out. That’s right. Just stare off into space… Daydream. While daydreaming may be frowned upon in class and at work, it could be one of the best ways

Is Shorter Better?

Omg u r my bff. LOL This is how many of us communicate in this new social media world. Whether it’s a matter of convenience in texting and status updates or it’s a matter of necessity in tweets (only 140 characters), our communications have gotten shorter and shorter. Is this a good trend? Not if

Growing Older?

I’m having another birthday this weekend. So there is no doubt I am getting older. That’s easy. Here’s the really hard question I always need to be asking myself – am I growing? The NielsenWire recently reported 6 million more seniors (age 65+) are using the web compared to 5 years ago. That’s 17.5 million

The Gift of Spam

As an adult, how many of your Christmas gifts do you really like? It seems that the older I get the more bad gifts I get. When I was little boy, all my gifts were wonderful except for the occasional pen & pencil set from a great aunt. In a recent blog by Symantec

Misfit Tweets

Do you remember the TV Christmas special, Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer? Rudolph runs away from home and goes to the Island of Misfit Toys. This is a place where not so perfect toys are sent – like the bird that swims, but can’t fly. That sounds like a penguin to me. Many tweets are going

Giving Thanks

It’s that time of year when everyone gets together for a big turkey dinner with family and to watch the Detroit Lions lose. And that’s okay, but Thanksgiving is more than just family, cranberry sauce and having a couple days off. It’s a reminder to be thankful for all you’ve been given. That may be

What Are You Hooked On?

What are you hooked on? Despite the fact that we’ve outlawed texting during dinner, there is still the occasional covert text under the table. My 15-year-old son often explains that his friend needed an immediate answer. In a 2008 AOL survey of 4,000 email users, 46% said they were “hooked” on email. Almost 60% of

I Got A Rock

Continuing with our Charlie Brown Halloween Special theme, Charlie goes trick-or-treating on Halloween in his ghost costume. After each house, the group would announce what they got. Do you remember what Charlie got at every house? His classic line is, “I got a rock.” How many of us feel like Charlie Brown when opening an

The Great Pumpkin

I grew up in the 60s when all the wonderful Charlie Brown TV Specials were first aired. While the Christmas special is still my favorite, the Halloween special runs a close second. It has several great story lines – one being the Great Pumpkin. Linus believes that on Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises from

Carving Your Pumpkin

What do you carve on your Halloween pumpkin – a happy, scary or sad face, or you’re really not sure exactly what you’ve carved? I’m old school and have always gone with the triangle eyes, nose and teeth. However, last year Kathie wanted something fancy and purchased one of those elaborate designs. I felt like

Marathon Marketing

The Chicago Marathon is this weekend, and I had the pleasure of running it a few years ago. Running a marathon is a lot like having a successful marketing program. First, you need a plan. Starting months before the marathon, I followed a detailed training plan. I had a calendar showing the days and distance

Goofy Customer Service and Marketing

I love Walt Disney World. Where else would you happily stand in line eating a turkey leg with your hands and wearing mouse ears while you wait to ride in a teacup? And pay handsomely for that privilege. It’s because the people at WDW are the masters of customer service and marketing. What can we

Be Nice

My mom was constantly telling me to be nice. As the oldest of five kids, it was hard being nice to my three brothers and sister. While my brothers were terribly annoying at times and my baby sister was bossy most of the time, Mom told me I still needed to be nice to them.

Signing Yearbooks

Once a year in high school, I had the chance to write what I thought about my classmates. They gave me their yearbooks to sign. “Stay cute and sweet” “2 sweet 2 be 4 gotten” Today kids still sign their friends’ yearbooks with messages very similar to those of my day. A new phrase I

Winning at the Buzzer

When I played high school basketball in the mid ‘70s, the shorts were a lot shorter, the socks were a lot longer, and there was no 3 point line. At 5’11” and 145 pounds, I was a force to be reckoned with on the court. A recent study, “When Losing Leads to Winning

Watch Your Words

As a child, did you ever say anything embarrassing like use a word incorrectly or accidently reveal a family secret? Or have your own children embarrassed you in this way? Ever wish you could review your children’s words before they speak them? Businesses and organizations are facing a similar problem. With the popularity of email,

Women Rule

Women rule the world or at least the bank account. A survey just released by The Boston Consulting Group says that women are responsible for $12 trillion in global spending and 70% of all consumer purchases worldwide. An

Marketing Channels

Growing up in rural Mississippi, we only had one TV station – CBS. That meant watching Captain Kangaroo in the morning

Lunchbox Lessons

When I was in the third grade, my mom got me a Bonanza lunchbox. In the ‘60s, Hoss and Little Joe were okay, but they weren’t nearly as tough as Zorro or the Green Hornet. Likewise, the girls leaned toward a Monkees or Bobby Sherman lunchbox. After all, your lunchbox was a part of your

Grow Your Own

Growing up on a farm, I always had fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs and milk. This past weekend I was back home enjoying fresh tomatoes, plums, peas and some of mom’s hot cornbread. According to the National Gardening Association, 7 million more Americans plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs this year. Compared to 2008,

What Can We Learn From Peanut Butter

Don’t become like peanut butter. In a recent IBM survey, less than 20% of American shoppers trust food companies to produce food that is safe and healthy and 83% could name a product that has been recalled in the last two years. Peanut butter was the most recognized recalled food at 46% followed by spinach

I Don’t Know

Want to grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually? Start with these three simple words “I don’t know.” My friend and pastor, Dr. Gary Fenton, recently shared with me that saying “I don’t know” opens your mind to becoming a life-long learner and gives the other person permission to teach you. Sadly, our culture and egos have

Short and Sweet

Short has always gotten a bad rap. I remember our family’s first trip to Disney World. My brothers and I couldn’t wait to drive the race cars. Everyone jumped into his own car…except my youngest brother. He was too short and had to ride with my dad. No one ever gets turned away because he is too

1 in 10

Are you one of the 10? A recent Harvard Business Review study revealed some very interesting information about Twitter and its users. For exampl

Going Green

It's almost spring and everything will be turning green soon...the trees, grass and your organization? That's right. Is your organization doing all it can to help the environment from a direct mail fundraising aspect? Here's where we are today: • Studies show all direct mail makes up only 1.8% of all waste and 4.7% of

Roses or Chocolates?

Have trouble buying a gift for certain people? That's because everyone is different. There is a wonderful book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. Dr. Chapman shares in the book that we all feel love differently and it's important to understand the other person's love language. The five languages are words of

Show the Love

One of the ladies who works with me tells the following story. In the fourth grade, her mother bought a king-size Snickers bar for my co-worker to give her new ""boyfriend"" on Valentine's Day. Being the shy typ

Cheap Date

In high school, there was nothing flashy about me. In 1974, my first car was a ‘65 VW Bug with no A/C or heat. The windows were rolled down in the summer, and you were wrapped up in a blanket in the winter. Most dates started with a Big Mac, fries and sharing a hot