Anatomy of a Direct Mail Makeover: Connect with Donors

This is the fourth in a five-post series on a direct mail make-over currently being tested by the University of California at Berkeley (Cal). Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | This is Part 4 | Part 5 The direct mail makeover by Cal fundraisers highlights the cultural contributions of alumni and…

Anatomy of a Direct Mail Makeover: Knead Until It Shines

This is the second in a five-post series on a direct mail make-over currently being tested by the University of California at Berkeley (Cal). Read Part 1 | This is Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 The fundraisers at Cal have decided to break away from their standard business letter…

Anatomy of a Direct Mail Makeover: The Value in Listening

This is the first in a five-post series on a direct mail make-over currently being tested by the University of California at Berkeley (Cal), my alma mater. Read Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 The fundraisers at Cal had a problem: they needed to raise more money from alumni to…

Are You Numbing or Inspiring Potential Supporters?

Are the copy and images in your nonprofit marketing materials drugging readers into ignoring you and your issue entirely? It’s a process called narcotization. Here’s how it works. People were shown pictures of gum disease. One group saw photos of a mouth just a little rotten. The second saw photos of moderately rotten gums. The…

Annual Report Show-Down: Who Is More Convincing?

As I was looking over annual reports from environmental groups this week, I noticed that both Environmental Defense (ED) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claimed that they were largely responsible for getting California’s law on global warming passed. Now, I really have no idea who did what or how much, and I am…

10 Ways to Use Storytelling in Your Nonprofit

Storytelling is all the rage in the marketing world these days, because it works. Examples are everywhere in commercial advertising. Samuel Adams commercials feature real employees and customers talking about beer. Those Geico commercials (not the ones with the gecko or the cavemen) feature customers and celebrities telling real stories. The UPS ad executive at…

Getting the Jargon Out of Your Nonprofit Marketing

As I copyedit text supplied by my nonprofit clients, I am constantly removing jargon. While phrases like “capacity building” and “fostering innovation” may mean something to your foundation funders, these terms usually have no meaning to the people you are serving with the grant the foundation gave you. Never cut and paste your grant application…

Getting Comfortable with Spin

Much of the battle in helping nonprofits communicate more effectively is in convincing them to put a different spin on what they are currently saying in person, in print, and online. When talking to donors, that spin might be changing the language from the first person (“We, the nonprofit”) to the second person (“You, our…

Big Nonprofit Communications Tip: Have an Opinion

I have long advocated that one way to make your newsletter and other nonprofit marketing materials more interesting is to share your opinions, not just objective reporting on your work and your issues. Jeff at Donor Power Blog says this is a good idea in fundraising too. Why? Because opinions tend to be more entertaining,…