How to Pull Off Live Streaming Video (Julia Campbell)

How to Pull Off Live Streaming Video (Julia Campbell)

All the talk of taking events virtual and engaging donors digitally in recent months typically boils down to one solution … live streaming (or better yet, pre-recording quality content and live streaming that).  But how do you actually do that?  Especially in small shop where hiring someone to help is out of the question? 

Well, thankfully my friend and nonprofit social media guru, Julia Campbell, has answered your call for help.  Her recent post, The Essential Guide to Nonprofit Live Streaming Video takes you step by step through how to make this work at your nonprofit.  And being Julia, she has lots of great examples and screenshots on how to use this tool to drive donor engagement. 

Check it out and think about how this could work at your organization!


6 Ways to Make a Better Donor Newsletter (Tom Ahern / Moceanic)

6 Ways to Make a Better Donor Newsletter (Tom Ahern / Moceanic)

Want to up your game with your donor newsletter?

Want to ensure that people actually open and read it?

Tom Ahern is the King of Donor Newsletters in my book and in this short post he offers six quick tips sure to boost your newsletter performance …


Are You Sure You’re Reporting Impact to Your Donors?

Are You Sure You’re Reporting Impact to Your Donors?

Are you telling your donors what you actually do with their donations? Do you report on impact? Do you tell them what happened? Many of you are saying, “Of course, I do that. I send a gift acknowledgement letter as soon as they send a donation. I have to. It’s the law. Of course we do that!” But…are you? We think we do it. We send that letter and that letter says what we’re going to do with the dollars, not what we did with them. It probably takes us a few months to put those dollars into action, actually create some impact, but we don’t really tell the donor that. We never report on that impact.

So, perhaps you put that information in a newsletter or an email blast. Do you know the open rate on your email blast? It’s probably 20%, maybe 30% if you’re really lucky. Those’re the only people who are getting that information! And are they actually reading the full article? Probably not. So they’re never really hearing what you actually did with their support. They have to guess. They have to assume that we did what we’re supposed to do.

Don’t make them assume. Tell them! One of my favorite tools for this is the impact letter. This is an additional piece of correspondence, without an ask, that comes out maybe three to six months after their donation.

It simply says: Dear donor, thanks so much for your loyal support. It’s been about six months since you so generously gave to this cause. We just wanted to let you know what we did with those funds. We have done …. And you list a couple of key points, key initiatives, key items of impact that have happened because of that donor.

This is where you give them credit. Lots of you language – you, your. Not me, we’s, or ours. Make the donor the hero of that impact letter. They did this. Without them, none of that would’ve happened. Give them credit. Once they get that, they’re simply going to say, “Wow, this charity actually told me what they did with my funds. I like them. They’re trustworthy. I bet I could give more support to them, and they’d put it to good use as well.” That’s what we’re after.

Then the loop is closed and we are ready to have that conversation about increased support. The donor feels appreciated. Because this is really about that donor experience. Everything we do, we have to monitor that donor experience. How would it make you feel? Do you feel like a dollar sign or do you feel like a trusted partner? That’s what we’re after. So use an impact letter. We, of course, have a great template here at Productive Fundraising. Give that a download, put it into use in your organization.

Thank You Letter Checklist [free download]

So your year end appeal is written and off to the mail house…You’ve setup some pre-holiday visits with your key donors. Lapsed donor lists are printed and you’re checking the daily. What else can you do to boost fundraising before the end of the year?

Have you read your standard gift acknowledgement letter lately? Is it actually enjoyable to read? Has it been updated in the last six months? Is it donor centric?

Check out this great Thank You Letter Checklist from my pals at Agents of Good and see if your letter is up the task of making your donors feel amazing.


5 Big Reasons Donors Leave (John Haydon)

We’ve all seen the (horrible) donor retention numbers for most nonprofits. Most of us have said “Whew … at least mine isn’t that bad!” But we can all certainly do better.

There are tons of stewardship techniques out there. We all talk about spreading #donorlove. But do we ever really look at the root causes? Why do donors actually leave? Maybe if we tailor our approach to addressing these causes we’ll have more success.

Fundraising guru John Haydon does an excellent job of summarizing the “5 Big Reasons Donors Leave” in this post. And he provides actionable advice to address each of them. Happy reading!


Survey Your Donors to Boost Retention

What’s one of the easiest ways to boost donor retention? That’s simple… survey your donors.

That old fundraising adage “ask your donors for money, you’ll get advice … ask your donors for advise, you’ll get money” is coming into play here.

But don’t make this a big complicated survey. A simple three to five question survey is perfect. No required answers … real simple. Even if they only answer one question it’s a win.

Even if they don’t respond (but they do open it), it can be a win. You took the time to ask for their advise. That is important.

Let them know that you are only surveying current donors because they make your programs happen (they are the heroes!).

It’s one more donor touch point that goes a long way toward proving that you value them as a person, not as a dollar sign.

Why You Need an Editorial Calendar

What is an editorial calendar? It is a document used to map out every communication for a set time period. Typically used for annual planning, this tool helps you address seasonal events, holidays, and not over (or under!) communicate on each item. Especially when it comes time to do a social media post, but also for your regular mail, keeping an editorial calendar helps you know what’s going on and therefore you don’t have to reinvent it every time.


Well, the new twist with this is “multi-channel” calendars. So, rather than it just being your social media plan for the year (where you map out all your posts), OR your email blasts OR your newsletter – this new version suggests integrating everything on one page. And the beauty of this is that a lot of the content can be re-purposed and reused. Maybe you do a social media post with content which then ends up in your print newsletter. Maybe your event ads leading up to an event can then be used in multiple other areas. So, it really stops you from having to recreate materials because you can get more value, more places.


The key to making all this work is planning. You can see how this can save you so much time down the line! It can really maximize your fundraising, and any kind of communication, at your nonprofit. So, how do you do it? You need a template. We love Excel for this because you can just kind of map out a grid and plug it in. And, of course, we have a free template to get you started! It has the weeks of the year and the typical channels that folks use. You can edit it and make it fit for your organization so that it gives you exactly what you need. That’s the tip for this week, fundraisers. Maximize an editorial calendar for your organization.

Donor Update Call Script [free download]

Are you calling your donors to thank them for their support? Are your board members helping out? I certainly hope so, if not you are losing out as other nonprofits in town are connecting with your donors this way!

With donor thank you calls becoming more common these days, how do you stand out? Try donor update calls.

These calls are very similar to donor thank you calls, but they take place three to six months after the donation is made. We are once again calling to say thank you, but this time we have results to share. We have the proof that their donation made a difference and we simply want to share that with them.

Sound good? Read to pick up the phone? Nervous … here’s my Donor Update Call Script to help you out. Now go call some donors!


Are You Sabotaging Your Fundraising Just to Save a Buck?

Let’s talk about my least favorite tool in fundraising. I don’t even want to call it a tool, because I don’t think you should use it AT ALL. What is it? The Window Envelope.

Yes, window envelopes. They don’t belong in fundraising. What comes in window envelopes? Bills. Bills! Do you want your fundraising appeal to look like a bill when it comes? That’s just screaming, “Throw me in the trash!” No, we don’t want that. And what else do some organizations use them for? Gift acknowledgements or thank-you letters. That’s even worse! Do you want your thank-you letter to look like a bill? No, we don’t want that either.

Why do we use them? Well, it simplifies the process a little bit if we don’t have to also address the envelope – we can see through from the letter. Print shops have really convinced us that this is cheaper. Get it quoted, it’s usually not that much cheaper. And is the connotation that, “It might be a bill,” worth the minimal cost savings you get by using a window envelope? No.

So, I recommend getting them completely out of your nonprofit. Don’t use them anywhere, not even accounting. Just don’t use them! Get them out! It’s not worth the chance that your donors see that letter and think you’re billing them, or you’re invoicing them for their support. It’s just not worth it.

What do I think we should do with them? Check out the video above for some @fundraiserchad special effects.

#donorlove Newsletter Audit (with Agents of Good)

Do you send a printed newsletter? Does it boost donor loyalty and engagement? Is it serving your organization or is it just something you do because you’ve “always done it that way?”

Your donor newsletter needs to ooze with #donorlove and show your donors all the great things that THEY are accomplishing (not what your organization is accomplishing). Make them the hero and give them the credit.

It’s one thing to tell you how to do this and other to show you. My friends Jen Love and John Lepp at Agents of Good do just that in this #donorlove Newsletter Audit. Check it out and optimize your donor newsletter!