Fundraising Inspiration: Have you ever enjoyed reading a fundraising letter?

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Sometimes I go looking for inspiration before I write an appeal letter. SOFII this week highlighted the work of Bruce Barton and work for Deerfield Academy.  This link takes you to two letters, plus an index of several of his others.

Bruce Barton’s fundraising letters for Deerfield Academy: from 1957 and 1958, letters 20 and 21 | SOFII.

Read them and think about social media. This is social media! There are some terrific nuggets in here that can be massaged for your own communications. These are warm, thoughtful and engaging. It’s about “your” accomplishments and “freedom” to give generously. As much as he uses the first person, everything he writes about is cheering the efforts of the reader.

This is beautiful writing — and successful fundraising.

Study: Nonprofits Misreporting Fundraising Costs

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Scripps Howard News Service conducted a study that shows that many nonprofits are under-reporting (or not reporting) what they spend on fundraising costs.

(see Study: Many Nonprofits Misreporting Solicited Donations – San Diego News Story – KGTV San Diego.)

Are you reporting all of your fundraising costs? Have you looked at your 990 to compare it to your records from your gala/annual appeal/last solicitation?

Practice Without Pressure: care poses a challenge

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Great article about Practice Without Pressure in Delaware. Great work guys!

via For cognitively impaired, care poses a challenge | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.Now in its 10th year, Practice Without Pressure helps patients with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other conditions overcome their apprehensions about health care visits. Although most of its focus is dental care, it also works with patients who need assistance with gynecological exams, mammography, personal care exams, blood draws and even haircuts. The nonprofit also teaches oral care and brushing techniques to group home residents.

“Our goal is if the person is able to participate in their care, then we try to get them to participate as much as possible,” said Bashkow, a nurse who has a son with autism. “If you have the tools, you realize if someone practices and sees what it’s all about, they can decide, ‘I can do this on my own.’ ”

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11 blog content ideas for nonprofits, and Number 10 is especially useful: numbered lists are the most redistributed.

Special Events are an addiction

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I love this article from Nonprofit Quarterly (root source AFP).  I’m not a fan of special event fundraising because I don’t think many of us use these events to our advantage.

The article asks: Are special events an efficient way to raise money? Or are we addicted to them — in a bad way? Special Events – Are They an Addiction? – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly.

I am usually the person who pushes to dismantle golf outing fundraisers and question your Gala. They are expensive ways to raise money and inefficient at sharing the good work your agency is doing. The best argument to keep the dreaded golf event is that it’s a way to recruit male donors. I get it, the rationale is valid, but the practice is flawed.

  • How many of the people who attend your special event fall in love with your agency’s mission and become loyal donors outside of that event?

You don’t know? Did you follow up with them after the event with a phone call? Did you collect contact information from the participants (and not just the purchaser of the group’s tickets)?

Break the addiction: start using events to your advantage

Nonprofits absolutely need feeder systems to find new people to become donors. And special events can be this mechanism — if you use them that way.

This means you need a plan for how you’re going to get to know the people in attendance and how you’re going to talk about your work during the event. You also need a plan for engaging those people after the event is over. This is the worthwhile, time consuming work of a special event.

Because this work is time-consuming, you will have to evaluate how many special events you run. If you find you don’t have time to follow up with people, then you should consider eliminating special events.

Outcomes: not worth paying for?

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Today we learned of the shuttering of PPV (Public/Private Ventures), the venerable agency that conducts research and evaluation to strengthen nonprofit programs.

One of the big complaints among nonprofits is that funders want outcomes, but won’t pay for them. And this appears to be another nail in the coffin. PPV says they are closing because they cannot find the funding to continue operations.

Pioneering Evaluation Group Plans to Fold – News – The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas.

So what’s the next step? I suspect we need to dial back the expectations related to program evaluation. There could also be a healthy discussion about what outcomes we can actually get. Are anecdotes combined with simple data gathering sufficient?