Why I read a fundraising appeal, ad, or brochure for a non-profit, I’m looking for something that I have come to think of as a Spark*.
I may look with a more critical eye than most readers (I’m in the business, after all), but even the casual reader is looking for something important: a reason to give. Very often, it’s not there.
The Spark* is probably what gets you out of bed in the morning. Most important, the Spark* answers the donor’s most important question: Why should I care?
I hope you’re constantly on the hunt for the Spark* in your organization. Here are some tips that may help you spot it: Continue reading
As of January 2014, I have accepted the position of Executive Director of the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Legacy Library and its publishing operation, Simchas Hachaim Publishing.
I will not be posting to the Spark* at this time, but earlier posts will remain online.
I stumbled recently onto Peter Drucker’s classic business text, Non-Profit Management. Here are a few lines that struck me:
The “non-proﬁt” institution neither supplies goods or services nor controls. Its “product” is neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human being. The non-proﬁt institutions are human-change agents. Their “product” is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether.
Hope that sounds familiar. The Spark* you’ve been looking for is right there: the changed human life. Learn to talk as much as you can about the change—the impact you have on real people’s lives.
From the insightful and ever-quotable Seth Godin:
If people aren’t donating to your cause, it’s because you’re not telling a story, or telling the wrong story to the wrong people (in the wrong way). Non-profits make change, and the way they do this is by letting us tell ourselves stories that nurture our best selves.
There’s a humorous poster you see posted in offices sometimes: the story about four employees named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. Forgive me for giving away the punchline, but the joke is that Nobody in the office did what Anybody could have done and Everybody tried to avoid doing.
And that’s just what I wanted to talk about: Everybody.
Hope you didn’t miss this Nonprofit Hub webinar by Tom Ahern. Tom is on of our industries most influential voices, and rightly so. Take the phone off the hook for the next hour and go watch Tom’s Everything I Know in 60 Slides.
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The fundraising messages you craft for your organization must reflect the organization’s brand. Unfortunately, brand is one of those marketing buzz words that gets thrown around carelessly, and is often used to mean things that are totally incorrect. Continue reading
A few months back we discussed how the octopus and unicorn symbolize two types of organizations: those with vague, amorphous fundraising messages, and those with bold and unique ones. Let’s look again. Continue reading
After 10 years obsessing over non-profit communications, I’ve found you can sometimes learn about powerful fundraising messages from the most unlikely places. Take my friend, Bill Strunk.
Since college, his (and co-author E.B. White’s) timeless little book, Elements of Style has been a faithful companion. It’s must-reading for any aspiring writer, and is required reading in many college writing classes.
Yes, after three-quarters of a century, this little book shows its age. But many of its lessons, especially regarding writing style, are as poignant as ever. No wonder some of his advice about good writing rings true for fundraisers, too. Here are a few of my favorite examples: Continue reading
Now, a few words about powerful fundraising messages from the venerable David Ogilvy. Continue reading