Why is failure your ally and how do you get better at it?

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.02.02 PMWe recently added Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner to our summary library because it addresses a critical gap in the body of work around failure. According to coauthor, Kara Penn, Fail Better explores HOW failure is a path to success. We asked Penn about how you can make failure your ally, and more importantly, how to get better at it.

Kara Penn: Failure is useful as tool for learning and improvement, if we are open to learning from missteps. But learning from failure is not guaranteed, so we have to work at it.

I imagine most of you can recall a situation in a work or personal environment when failure occurred. We all do it! And it’s memorable. And like touching a hot stove, we tend very much not to ever want it to happen again. But if we can craft and increase control over how we fail and in service of what, we are receptive to a very powerful tool.

The Fail Better Method offers three practical stages to our project work where we can plan for smart mistakes and prepare for greater successes:

 

Launch: At the outset of a project or initiative, think about setting the groundwork for both project success and learning—combat common failure modes like not having Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.00.49 PMthe right resources or skills lined up for the project to succeed, not setting up a strong foundation of communication, or not building enough buy in to your efforts through key partners who can champion your work. In addition, this is a great time to think about how your plans and proposed action for moving forward in launching a program, service or idea tie to the actual outcomes you want to achieve. Logic models or Theories of Change are tools common in the nonprofit sector that can help organizations think through this. These tools allow you to see if you’re building your approach on sound or faulty assumptions and can be used as a diagnostic tool later when needed to see what went right and what was off track.

 

Iterate: Use implementation to test ideas, and be willing to have those efforts not be successful in service of learning. For example, in a fundraising campaign,Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.00.58 PM many of nonprofits use an end of year appeal letter as a way of reaching out to donors. However, this is a perfect place for experimentation using a technique that many software developers use—A & B testing—try out two or three different versions of letters or even methods of engagement, and see which one gets the best results and brings in the most responsiveness and donations. Use this information to build a better approach for next time. It’s relatively low risk and low cost. And gives you a lot of valuable information. Piloting programs instead of launching them outright at full scale is another way of minimizing risk and learning along the way so mistakes or failures are captured early and addressed, while successes can be scaled up. And finally:

 

Embed: As efforts draw to a close, we often fail to reflect on our work, review the data we’ve collected and share out our Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 12.01.06 PMfindings and insights with larger audiences. This lack of investment in learning at the end is VERY common, in nonprofits but all sectors. We are all busy, rushing into the next thing, but a lot is lost by not doing this and we prep ourselves to lose valuable insights—including pieces that were successful that we want to build on, and things that weren’t that we want to correct or improve for next time. Nonprofits can make time for this by employing a concept used by the U.S. military—an After Action Review—where teams involved in a project huddle up and document what went well, what went wrong, why, and what should be done differently next time. Documenting this information and creating some next steps to share and apply these insights can be a quick way for an organization to learn and improve.

Watch for future Q&A with Kara Penn about Fail Better when we talk about the circumstances when failure is at its best and how to create a culture that’s open to failure.

See more books and summaries related to this title:

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Image credit: Harvard Business Press (cover image), FailBetterNow.com

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Inject soul into your use of technology

contentmarketingLeroux Miller’s comprehensive guide to curating content is the cornerstone to creating a climate of followers engaged in your organization’s fundraising and brandraising.

The author’s vast number of nonprofit examples and specific guidance on why it’s important to create your content identity, build a plan based on your constituents’ preferences, and map out a functional timeline are only a few of the passage highlights in this book.

You’ll have answers to some of the most popular questions like, “What are the benefits and drawbacks of each online channel?” “What three questions should my homepage answer?” and “How do I allow for content surprises in a pre-planned editorial calendar?”

The secret in Leroux Miller’s sauce is she practices what she prescribes. She has worked out the kinks in all the methods and tools she recommends and has done so single-handedly. So, if you’re wondering if your small or sophisticated shop can implement her approach, wonder no more.

We asked Leroux Miller about injecting soul into your use of technology and what’s around the corner for nonprofits:

CausePlanet: Hi, Kivi. Many thanks for the much-anticipated book about content management. What would you most like readers to know about how your book uniquely adds to the body of work on this topic?

Leroux Miller: Nonprofits are trying to change the world–and that’s hard! That’s why I believe content marketing in the nonprofit world is much harder than in the for-profit world but also potentially more powerful, too. It’s all about making strong connections with participants, supporters and influencers and showing how relevant your organization is to their lives so they’ll help you change the world. This book is for and about nonprofits and how they use content; it’s not just slapping business advice on to the nonprofit world.

CausePlanet: Content management is constantly evolving in light of the channels that seem to emerge every day and the tools with which we can better communicate. If you added new content to your book, what might the topic be?

Leroux Miller: I think it would be an expansion of chapter sixteen on the technology of content marketing. In just a few short years, the technology the corporate world uses now to customize your experience on some of your favorite websites will be available and affordable to even small nonprofits, too. That will change everything.

Learn more about this book and our summary.

Check out Kivi Leroux Miller’s slide deck.

Questions? Email us at Support@CausePlanet.org.

Image credit: TheNerdyNonprofit.com

 

 

 

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Content marketing for nonprofits: Don’t forget to rinse and repeat

rinseandrepeatThe number of tools and the amount of noise around us grow by the day. With choice comes complexity, and our environment changes constantly, due to technological, generational and marketing shifts.

Redefine your audience for today’s current climate with the help of author Kivi Leroux Miller. Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money delivers on the title and much more.

Without the benefit of a multichannel communications plan like Leroux Miller’s, your organization pushes out mass-messaging in a variety of unplanned channels and hopes that a few calls to action land in receptive hands.

But with Leroux Miller’s guidance, you will develop a solid marketing plan and implement a dynamic content strategy, step by step, that will attract generous donors.

In our Page to Practice book summary of Content Marketing for Nonprofits, we asked Leroux Miller about repurposing content. Here are some great reminders and tips:

CausePlanet: We love your passage on repurposing content–it’s liberating to know you support this strategy. What’s one of the best examples you’ve observed or you personally use that you would recommend to our readers?

Kivi Leroux Miller: I rarely create anything new without knowing how I will use it in at least three ways. Sometimes it’s just an inkling, but everything gets reincarnated at some point. I am always expanding or reworking things I did earlier. It’s a way of life for creative professionals, including marketers! 

CausePlanet: In your book, you discuss one of many content strategies, including “Foraging and Filtering: Curating Content Created by Others.” What are some of the online tools you prefer to use when organizing thoughts and ideas within the same subject area?

Kivi Leroux Miller: The specific tool you use is less important than the tagging or labeling system you use. You have to know how to identify things you find so that you can find them again later! But since you asked, we use Diigo and Evernote regularly.

Learn more about this book and our summary: http://www.causeplanet.org/pagetopracticelibrary/detail.php?id=121

More titles and their summaries on this topic:

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

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Avoid the 2-year website relaunch cycle: Look at ROI and mission

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-4-00-39-pmIf you’re looking to improve your website, you’re not alone. According to Captivate and Engage coauthors, Jay Wilkinson and Randy Hawthorne, nonprofits relaunch their websites about every two years. This is due to several factors.

Are “go-to geeks” the answer?

Primarily, nonprofits hire website designers whom the authors affectionately call “go-to-geeks.” These professionals are tech-savvy but the authors argue that a great site is more about mission, vision and cause more than about technology. “No programmer can manufacture those components,” explain Wilkinson and Hawthorne.

The doing-more-with-less fallacy

Another reason why nonprofits find themselves in a constant state of website revision is the “fallacy of doing more with less.” This is based on the idea that you should make decisions based on cost rather than value. “Get as much as you can for as little as possible.” Unfortunately, this philosophy contributes to a very short shelf life for your website.

Look at ROI and mission before you leap

When we asked Jay and Randy about preliminary considerations before you launch a website, they had the following answer that touched more on the fallacy mentioned above. We also asked about one of their primary recommendations: connecting the website to the mission. Read on.

CausePlanet: What is your advice for nonprofits that want to make the initial investment to build a website the right way? What are the preliminary considerations?

Wilkinson and Hawthorne: First and foremost, don’t fall into the “we have to do more with less” trap by focusing entirely on the cost of the website. Way more important than cost is the return onscreen-shot-2016-10-27-at-3-09-13-pm investment, or ROI. A nonprofit could spend $50,000 on a website and double its money by increasing contributions or spend $500 and get nothing in return except for a bland site with a few photos and its mission statement.

Which one “costs” more for the nonprofit? Fortunately for everyone, great nonprofit websites with gargantuan ROIs don’t have to cost $50,000. We recommend finding a provider that specializes specifically in working with nonprofits. It has probably already built the functionality that you’ll need—meaning it’s not starting from scratch. Then, know what you want. Take the time to seek out other nonprofit websites to cite as examples. It’s the single best way for a developer to know how best to please you.

CausePlanet: You stress the importance of getting in touch with your mission, vision and values before engaging in the business of enlisting technological help. Have you seen any of your clients do this successfully and what did that look like?

Wilkinson and Hawthorne: Yes. We see it all the time. Every web developer worth her salt will tell you that when the leadership team for the nonprofit is involved in providing direction for the website, the product always comes out better. The closer someone is to the heart of the organization, the more insight and guidance she can give. 

A great example of this is the Groundwater Foundation at Groundwater.org. The President, Jane Griffin, is involved in every aspect of the website. As a result, the purpose and mission of the organization is deeply embedded into the site’s DNA. You can’t visit the website without gaining a sense of its mission.

See book summaries related to this topic:

Captivate and Engage: The Definitive Guide for Nonprofit Websites

Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Image credits: Groundwater.org, NonprofitHub Press

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We asked “The Ethics Guy” about his favorite interview question

ethics2Bruce Weinstein presents ten qualities that clarify what it means to be a high-character employee in his latest book, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees.

Stories from employers and employees illustrate how these traits are critical to the long-term success of your nonprofit and to the employees who exhibit them. This book contains advice for the employer, the interviewee and employee in search of a character fit.

We asked author Weinstein about his favorite interview question. 

CausePlanet: What is your favorite job interview question that reveals character and why?

BW: “Have you ever cheated, and if so, what did you learn from it?”

Several of the leaders I spoke with in doing research for The Good Ones told me, “You’d be surprised how often people will just come out and tell you about the dishonest things they’ve done.” I agree.

From time to time I interview high school students who are applying to the college I attended, Swarthmore. A few years ago, I mentioned to Rob, the young man I was interviewing, that I’d written a book called Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught? I told him how dismayed I was by the stories of cheating in high schools and colleges and asked him point-blank if he had ever misrepresented himself.

“Yes,” he said. “My friends and I have done it more than once. School is so competitive now, you have to cheat to get good grades.”

Rob got a “Do not admit” recommendation from me on the college evaluation form.dishonesty

There are two downsides to asking a job candidate a direct question about dishonesty. First, it immediately strikes fear in the candidate’s heart, even if the candidate is an honest person. I don’t like the idea of making people squirm.

The second downside is that the question seems to present a no-win situation. The candidate may reason that if she admits to having cheated, she won’t get the job, but if she lies, she’ll get caught in a fib.

But the savvy interviewer will not reject candidates simply because they have admitted to cheating. What bothered me about Rob wasn’t so much his academic dishonesty but the fact that he exhibited no remorse for having cheated and even attempted to justify it.

The honest person has a strong emotional commitment to the truth, and leaders who evaluate for character as well as competence serve their employers—and themselves–well.

I’m happy to help readers of CausePlanet any way I can.  If you have any questions about this material, please call me any time at 646.649.4501 (U.S.).

See also:

The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees

Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

Image credit: carnegiecouncil.org, skiprichard.com

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Nonprofits and donors: Doing more good means making some changes

downloadHow to Be Great at Doing Good author Nick Cooney argues that none of us has been taught what it means to truly succeed at doing good in the world. What’s more, we have never been prompted to give charity the seriousness and rigor it deserves.

“Although it may feel counterintuitive or even cold-hearted to take a numbers-based approach to charity, Cooney reveals that making calculated decisions isn’t just possible, it’s absolutely necessary if we want to succeed at helping others.”

Through a series of enlightening studies in human behavior, compelling interviews with philanthropy professionals, and applied personal experiences from founding and managing top-rated nonprofits, Cooney presents an eye-opening examination of our traditional approach to succeeding at charitable leadership and philanthropy.

The author’s challenge to you

It’s a challenge to get serious about charity. His challenge rests on two premises: “1) The first premise is that the goal of charity is to make the world a better place. It is to help those who are suffering and to increase well-being. 2) The second premise is that in whatever capacity you carry out charity—as a donor, a volunteer, or a nonprofit worker—you want to succeed as much as possible.”charitycoverdalefury_com

At the time this book was published, Americans donated only three percent of their income to charity and participated in an average of 15 hours a year volunteering. If every dollar and minute should be maximized to its fullest potential, donors, volunteers and nonprofit leaders must overcome their dependency on assumptions rather than facts, which are primal barriers to smart decision making, and avoid navigating choices based on emotional tendencies, among other things.

A tall order but one that Cooney asserts is worth pursuing if we genuinely want our charitable leadership and philanthropy to be truly great. What that means for nonprofits is a new language used with donors that empowers and informs. What that means for donors is applying rigor to giving so the dollars do the most good.

Doing good or doing great? A tale of two charitiesthephilannews_com

Cooney gives the example of the Theatre Communications Group versus the Seva Foundation. The theater group’s mission involves improving communications between theaters and workers so they can learn from each other. The Seva Foundation works to reverse blindness in India caused by cataracts. It sends surgeons to India to remove cataracts through a simple and inexpensive procedure. It combats blindness in over 100,000 people each year.

The author discusses which charity makes the world a better place by “reducing suffering and increasing well-being.” When we confront the brutal fact that not all charities do the same amount of good, the Seva Foundation is more successful in making the world a better place. It reduces more suffering and increases the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people for their lifetimes. It also does it inexpensively.

Therefore, contributing to a theater organization can certainly be a personal passion and can consume some of the 97 percent of Americans’ income that is not dedicated to charity. But to actually help people and reduce their suffering, the Seva Foundation deserves your charitable dollars.

Three steps toward making the most impact 

An excerpt from our Page to Practice book summarynick_cooney_com

CausePlanet: You stress that people need to go against their natural, emotional instincts to support charities that make an efficient impact. Awareness is the first step, you say, but what other concrete steps can people take and how can they create a support system so a mass of people can move in this direction?

Nick Cooney: As I say in the book, empathy and compassion should be the fuel that we put in our tank, the things that motivate us to give. But they should not be the hands on the steering wheel that decide where to give. Instead, we should try to think logically and dispassionately about the very best places to give.

Some concrete steps to help make that happen are first, realize that the reason we donate is to do good–namely, to reduce the suffering or increase the happiness of others. If we really care, we should donate where it will do the most good–decrease the most suffering, increase the most happiness.

And that means not necessarily focusing on the causes that we feel most interested in at the moment, or that are the most relevant to us, or that are local to where we happen to be living. Rather, it means trying to find the causes where our dollars will do the most good, even if it’s not a cause or a charity we’ve thought a lot about before. So realizing that and internalizing it is step one.

Step two is look for what info is out there already, for example sites like Animal Charity Evaluators and Givewell. I also recommend browsing the site of the Open Philanthropy Project, which has tried to do some of this same sort of analysis.

Third, connect with others who are already trying to think about and carry out charity in this way. Places like The Center for Effective Altruism have some helpful resources for connecting with others who want to do the most good with their money (or time).

See book summaries on related topics:

Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World

With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give

Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Small Change: Why Business Won’t Save the World

Charity On Trial: What You Need to Know Before You Give

Image credits: wiley.com, charitycoverdalefury.com, thephilanews.com, nickcooney.com

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Nonprofits: Explore the heart of Latino leadership

latinoleadershipIf you’re like me, you’re involved with one, two or more boards that would love to share the table with a thriving minority in the U.S. In fact, minority won’t be an accurate description by the year 2060. Join me in getting acquainted with the first book that squarely focuses on describing the principles and practices of how Latinos lead in our communities. Bestselling author, Juana Bordas, has written The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion and Contribution. Bordas has also written Salsa, Soul and Spirit.

In Latino Leadership, author Juana Bordas takes us on a path to the very heart of Latino leadership. She explores 10 principles that illustrate how inclusive, people-oriented, socially responsible and life-affirming Latinos are in their grass roots efforts. This book will inform every one of us about the nuances of Latinos in the social sector.

You’ll find her answers to our interviews questions in our recent podcast very informative below. Thank you, Juana!

6) How can nonprofits help with the goal in this quotation: “So how do leaders motivate people to do the hard work of community building and commit to the long-term struggle of creating a more equitable society?”

Image credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

 

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Nonprofits: Don’t raise a dollar unless you plan on keeping it

According to Ken Burnett, “Our nonprofit sector is bleeding to death. We’re hemorrhaging donors, losing support as fast as we find it, seemingly condemned forever to pay a fortune just to stand still. It’s time we stemmed the flow.”

It’s understandable why Retention Fundraising author Roger Craver chose Burnett to write the forward for this book. Burnett brings the right amount of warning to the issue. Burnett is right. Our social sector is in dire need of determined action to diminish donor attrition.

Why?

A few of the many reasons include the following: Attrition costs our organizations billions of dollars and effort. It suffocates the other mission-related work we’re trying to do. It undermines the sector as a whole. Unfortunately, many fundraisers accept low donor retention as a fact of life.

Roger Craver says it doesn’t have to be that way. Craver has unpacked the answers to many of the challenges nonprofits face with attrition such as shifting the fundraiser’s focus to what matters most to donors, overthrowing retention barriers, responding efficiently and more.

Thanks to a study of more than 250 organizations, Craver and his collaborators have introduced a framework for boosting retention and the lifetime value of donors. This framework is the foundation to improve each of the retention issues he presents, from redefining loyalty to understanding authentic engagement.pinterest-com

We asked Craver about how to make a case for retention activities if you need to enlist your colleagues and leadership in the process. We also had him share insights on the metrics you should measure:

CausePlanet: How do you convince nonprofit organizations that focusing on donor retention is worth the extra time, effort and expense?

Craver: Year after year for the past decade, donor-retention rates have been sinking. Today, they’re at an all-time low.  According to studies by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, every $100 raised from new donors was offset by $100 in losses because of attrition. All this despite the facts that organizations have

– a 60-70 percent chance of obtaining additional gifts from an existing donor.

– a 20 to 40 percent chance of obtaining an additional gift from a recently lapsed donor.bloomerang-com

– but less than a 2 percent chance of obtaining a gift from a prospective donor (actuation).

So one thing should be glaringly obvious. The bulk of an organization’s fundraising spending should be aimed at holding onto and building relationships with existing donors, not in acquiring new ones. It’s called “retention.” Unless an organization’s goal is to never grow and eventually decline, the failure to focus on retention is ultimately ruinous as the organization’s support shrinks like a raisin in the sun.

CausePlanet: Would you talk about how the metrics you have developed (lifetime value, etc.) help a nonprofit track its fundraising and justify its time and effort?

Craver: There are some fundamental metrics that serve as a sort of fundraiser’s GPS—Retention Rates and Lifetime Value. They quickly and easily indicate whether an organization is relevant to its donors.

Number of new donors making a second gift: A harbinger if not dead-on predictor of the retention rates and Lifetime Value an organization is likely to enjoy in the future.

Number of new donors retained into the second year: If you ask and answer the question as to why so many donors leave the first year and what your organization is doing to lose them and hold them, you’ll be on a true track to growth. Fail to answer them, and it’s more of the same.

Multiple Year Retention Rate: Same as above, but by tracking these year by year you can spot trends, problems and opportunities. Why? Because year-over-year comparisons of this metric will trigger additional questions and answers for improving your program.blog-capterra-com

Lifetime Value of a Donor (LTV): At the end of the day all the actions you take to improve retention, average gift and donor commitment will be reflected in the Lifetime Value of each donor and all donors collectively. This is the key metric on which you can benchmark, guide and then track the success–or failure–of your intermediate and long-term strategies.

There’s never been a better time for Roger Craver’s book. Why let one more hard-won donor leak through the bucket when instead, she could be a lifetime supporter of your organization. Simply put, calculate the cost of repeated acquisitions versus the renewal of a donor who is predisposed to support you.

Craver provides countless data-based methods for retaining donors including Cliff Notes to his own advice at the end. From what drives donors to stay to what prompts them to leave, Craver makes it impossible to look the other way on retention–and your nonprofit will be better for it.

See other book summaries related to this title:

Fundraising the SMART Way™: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website

Fundraising When Money Is Tight

Influential Fundraiser: Using the Psychology of Persuasion to Achieve Outstanding Results

Image credits: blog.capterra.com, bloomerang.com, pinterest.com, retentionfundraising.com

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Nonprofits: Four things fundraising is not

globalpassionblog-wordpress-comJeff Brooks’ How to Turn Your Words Into Money is a nonprofit writer’s new ally with the latest guidelines for creating the most effective messages to persuade your reader.

Brooks explains what fundraising writing is not and what it should be. He does so in a way that tells you exactly what to avoid and what to try in your next attempt to sway your audience.

A fair amount is appropriately dedicated to the many ways you can create a compelling story even when you’re stumped. How to Turn concludes with what every fundraising writer needs: universal assumptions we know about donors and some helpful advice to keep you inspired.

Brooks asserts that fundraising writing is different than any other writing. Many of its most successful examples defy English conventions and are counterintuitive.

Brooks begins his book with what fundraising writing is not and then describes what it should be.

We’ve excerpted his “Don’t” list here for you.

Educating is not fundraising:theconnectedcause-com

Educating donors about your cause does not motivate them to give. Appealing to their passions and telling them about a person who is suffering motivates them to give. After they give, they are then willing to learn more about your cause. For example, educating donors about statistics on homelessness does not increase giving. Telling a person’s homeless story does motivate them more often. People are motivated by their emotions and interests, not facts.

Bragging is not fundraising:

Talking only about your impressive self does not work in any situation. Instead, “only share excellent qualities that are relevant to donors.” Don’t talk about your stellar processes, fame or awards you’ve won. Donors want to contribute to results and be part of your excellence. Instead of saying what your organization has done, attribute your success to your donors’ generosity:

“We’ll stretch every dollar you give so you help the greatest number of people in the most life-transforming way.” Share these relevant facts with your donors: a purpose statement that shows you share your donors’ values, watchdog approvals or ratings, and quotations from authorities or celebrities that vouch for you.

Journalism is not fundraising:sharpenet-com

If you focus on the five Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why), you will miss the word “you,” or the donor. Instead of just telling a homeless person’s story, relate it to the donor: “Frank is a lot like you. He loves his kids, and like you, he’d do almost anything to make them happy. But last Christmas, Frank had to make a bigger sacrifice than most parents. …” (He spent his last few dollars on gifts for his daughters he hadn’t seen in more than two years and became homeless.)

Furthermore, as a fundraiser, you need to be biased, not objective, about your cause. Therefore, focus on the conflict or what needs to change, show a problem, unveil the enemy, and recruit the reader by appealing to his values and challenging him to take action.

Humor doesn’t work well in fundraising:slate-com

For several reasons, stay away from humor: 1) It doesn’t translate across cultures or different age groups. 2) Insider jokes about your organization do not work with donors who are outsiders. 3) Humor makes fun of something or someone, which does not inspire empathy, kindness or a willingness to give.

We asked Books about testing his messaging in our Page to Practice author interview:

CausePlanet: How often do you test your fundraising messages? Do you see donor’s preferences shifting very often?

Jeff Brooks: You should test all the time–if your quantities are big enough to yield statistically significant results. If they aren’t, testing is a waste of time and money, and it’s just as likely to tell you the exact opposite of the truth as it is to enlighten you. If you can’t test, you should pay attention to those who do.

We can count on donor preferences shifting over time. It happens slowly in direct mail and more quickly online. If something works really well now, it may not always work. A few years ago, everybody started using brown paper bags as envelopes for direct mail pieces. It really worked like crazy. Then it suddenly stopped working–probably because it became so common it lost its novelty value.

Why you should buy this book

Anyone charged with communicating on behalf of his nonprofit should buy this book. Brooks shares the latest conventions and discoveries in effective fundraising messages. In fact, very few of our early fundraising conventions remain and those that do are bendable rules at best.

What you learned in school or early in your career is no longer relevant. You will find the art and science of writing to the donor has evolved a great deal. Jeff Brooks is the antithesis of “those who can’t do, teach.” He’s a consultant and practitioner who is constantly perfecting, testing and retesting his craft. You’ll find this book supremely insightful and a bottom-line-changer.

See other relevant book summaries and titles:

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing

Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money

Seeing Through A Donor’s Eyes

Image credits: Slate.com. sharpenet.com, globalpassionblog.wordpress.com, theconnectedcause.com

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Podcast: Three top pressure reducers that help you when it matters most

myndset-com“You can’t just show up to a high-pressure situation and expect to perform well. You need to be tenacious—to put the work in. People who find it difficult to perform often discount the need for preparation and hard work. It’s easier to believe in the myth of the clutch player, the leader-hero, or the prodigy,” assert Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry, coauthors of Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most.

“Nobody performs better under pressure. Regardless of the task, pressure ruthlessly diminishes our judgment, decision making, attention, dexterity and performance in every professional and personal arena.”

Leaders in the nonprofit sector are no strangers to feeling the pressure of furthering a mission with lean resources and limited staff. After learning more about the authors’ conclusive research, you can’t help but realize that pressure management should be a baseline competency for every leader.

Since it’s impossible to live life free of pressure, the authors present strategies to manage it immediately and in the future in their latest book.

We recently interviewed coauthor Hendrie “Hank” Weisinger about the book and found ourselves fascinated by tools he shared for managing pressure. We hope you enjoy his answers to the following questions:

Would you give a brief premise of your book?

What are three top pressure reducers that nonprofits can use to perform more successfully?

Would you explain the “COTE of Armor” and how it reduces pressure over the long-term?

How can nonprofit leaders reduce the stress for their employees, who are often overworked and underpaid?

Learn more about Hendrie Weisinger’s online courses if you’d like to do a better job of managing pressure in your life: http://pressure.hendrieweisingerphd.com

See a book summary of this title and others:

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most

Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

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