Fundraising and President Obama's Tears

It wasn’t the facts or the arguments that moved the needle. It was the display of emotion.” That, or something very close to that—I was still waking up with my cup of coffee in hand—was what I heard David Axelrod of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago say about shifting public opinion on gun control.

CNN reported this morning that, while the American public is skeptical about whether or not the gun control measures that President Obama announced this week will be effective, they are, nonetheless, supportive, with 60% of the public supporting the measures.. Both the President's approval ratings as well as the support for his policy were on the rise this week following his televised town hall appearance, CNN reported. David Axelrod, a crack political analyst who was part of the “Audacity to Win” campaign team behind Obama’s bid for the White House, had sliced and diced the post-Town Hall polls this week. He shared on CNN this morning that it was not any of the arguments, facts, or data that were discussed during the Town Hall, but the riveting moment when the President shed tears over the loss of children’s lives at Sandy Hook, that changed the hearts of Americans.

10 Reasons Clean Data Should Be Fundraising's #1 New Year's Resolution


Why clean data should be your # 1 resolution:

  1. Direct Mail Appeals: The results of your direct mail appeals are driven by the quality of your mailing list.
  2. Email Marketing: The open rates of your email marketing efforts are driven by the accuracy of your email lists.
  3. Donor Retention: Want to alienate a donor fast? Write “Dear Mr. & Mrs. Jones” to Ms. Jones who divorced lying, cheating, dead-beat Mr. Jones three years ago. I can assure you, Mrs. Jones will never, ever donate again. Ditto, if Mr. Jones has been deceased for 5 years and she’s called your office twice to let you know.

Your Development Plan: Time for a Check-Up

Your Development Plan:  Time for a Check-Up

About this time every year, I receive a reminder from my health insurance company to go have a series of blood tests and health screenings. For years, I’ve grumbled about going. Every year, they tell me the same thing:  you need to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise more.

After I go through these screenings, I always get a phone call from someone with a chipper voice who tells me she is going to be my health coach.  It always feels very invasive to me so I always say “No, thank you.”

But last year’s experience has helped change my tune. 

Calling Up the Reserves - #AFPFC Wrap-Up

Calling Up the Reserves - #AFPFC Wrap-Up

Many organizations have some sort of Advisory Councils.  But often these councils, populated largely with former board members or community dignitaries that don’t have time to be board members, languish, largely neglected by the very organizations that have created them. They often have no clear purpose and meet infrequently.

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising: #AFPFC Wrap-Up

Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising: #AFPFC Wrap-Up


Note:  This blog post is part of my #AFPFC wrap-up, a series of posts writing about my take-aways from the 2015 International Fundraising Conference of the AFP in Baltimore last week. Happiness, Habits, and Major Gifts Fundraising was the title of a session led by Amy Eisenstein.

One of my personal favorite speakers is Amy Eisenstein, author of  Major Gift Fundraising For Small Shops.  At the AFP Fundraising Conference last week, she had us dancing in the aisles to the “Happy” song (no one else at the conference did that) as she led a session on “Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising.”

The workshop was partly about major gift fundraising and how to be better at it; and partly about time management, work-life balance, the power of positive thinking, as well as self-discipline.  Oh yeah.  And then there was the dancing.

To boil her message down to its barest elements:

  1. Positive Thinking has Power:  The old adage “think you can and you can” (or think you can’t and you can’t) applies in fundraising as in all else in life. – So Stay Positive.

How would you like to increase donations 600-800%?!?

How would you like to increase donations 600-800%?!?

What if you could do one thing in your development program and increase your donations 600 – 800%?!!

You can! According to Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang in a whitepaper produced by Blackbaud and Hartsook Institutes, Growing Philanthropy in the United States, 600-800% is the amount by which you can increase a donor’s lifetime value simply by converting him or her to a monthly giver.

Consider:  if you’re typical donor makes a $25 or $35 check at the end of the year, you can increase his or her giving dramatically by signing them up to give $5, $10, or $15 each month instead. A monthly contributor who gives $5/month, for example, has increased their contribution 240% in one year.  Now, multiply that by the number of years he or she will give.

The math is pretty simple and straight-forward so the real question is how do you get started?

The answer isn’t rocket science:  Ask.

An Empathy Gap?

An Empathy Gap?

A new study conducted by researchers at Stanford, suggests that there is an "empathy gap" between men and women that affects charitable giving.  

To study differences in men and women and charitable giving, the researchers tested responses to appeals for support for a fictional organization they called the Coalition to Reduce Poverty.

The study broke the 1,1715-person sample into 5 test groups and compared the responses of men and women in each of the sub-samples. 

3 Great Reasons Companies Should Sponsor You

3 Great Reasons Companies Should Sponsor You

ponsorships can make the difference between an event being successful and an event being a failure.  Sponsorship dollars are critical.  Fortunately, sponsorship dollars are something that are easy to raise (yes, you read that right) – easy because they are a win-winCompanies receive several benefits from sponsorships:

  1. Corporate sponsorships provide companies benefits with their customers
  2. They increase employee productivity and loyalty, and
  3. They offer traditional marketing benefits like name/brand recognition in the community.

How to Recruit and Support Fundraising Volunteers

How to Recruit and Support Fundraising Volunteers

I’ll never forget 2007. 

That was the year that potential volunteers kept coming up to me at our volunteer recognition and recruitment event and saying “Hey! I’d like to help with fundraising!” By the end of the night, I had our golf tournament committee full, our silent auction committee full. I had volunteers signed up to ask for sponsorships, put up flyers around town, and hand-address appeal letters.  It was an incredible evening.  It seemed everyone wanted to be a fundraising volunteer. 

3 Ways P2P Fundraising is Old School

3 Ways P2P Fundraising is Old School

Did your New Year’s Resolution include trying a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign?  If so, great!  They are an incredibly fun and engaging way to raise funds.  Until Susan G. Komen and Lance Armstrong’s charities took big hits in 2013, peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising was growing like gang-busters.  It fumbled a little in 2013, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brought it back with a vengeance in 2014. 

As I’ve thought about the secrets to the success of these campaigns, I’ve realized that while the tools for online, crowdfunding P2P type campaigns are newer than the tools for traditional fundraising campaigns, the underlying techniques and principles that drive success are still very much the same.  Here are 3 ways that P2P fundraising is similar to any other type of fundraising campaign.