Tom Ahern

Tom Ahern specializes in fundraising, advocacy, and nonprofit communications. His client projects range from building case statements for small grassroots nonprofits to creating the communications behind multi-million dollar capital campaigns for organizations. You can follow his work at

Battle of the appeal letters: Four-pager versus two-pager

If I've heard this one once, I've heard it a thousand times...Dear Tom: My boss wants to know which is better, a four-page letter or a two-page letter? Signed, Direct Mail Novice. This is one of those great "it all depends" questions. First, you need to distinguish between

The message is trust: how to build loyalty with your donors

Donors have no idea what you do with their money. And frankly? They suspect the worst!!! How loyal is the average donor? Not very, it seems. "In many large national programs fueled by direct mail," Mal Warwick observed in 2005, "no more than 25-35% of newly acquired donors ever give so much as a second gift." And that was

Boomers crave purpose: Discover how your cause can deliver it

An infatuation with younger donors can distract you from the real work at hand: cultivating boomers as they start their bell lap. Heed these words from a recent "For Impact" blog posting: "The best time to plant trees was 20 years ago...

Playing to lose

Untrained staff and board cannot accurately judge professionally-crafted direct mail. It's impossible. Mailed appeals are a counter-intuitive enterprise, based on neuroscience, decades of testing, empiricism, and acquired skill sets of surprising depth and complexity

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