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.


A New Idea to Connect with Your Donors (Veritus Group)

Do you have trouble getting your donors to answer the phone?

Are you afraid to leave voicemails?

Does it feel like all of this spending hours upon hours trying to get donor visits is a waste of time?

If so, check out this great post from Jeff Schreifels at the Veritus Group with an alternative, yet highly effective, contact strategy …


Fundraising Appeal Editable Template [free download]

Need a head start on your next fundraising appeal?

Start with @fundraiserchad’s free editable template. It will show you what goes where and help you remember to include some of the key components to optimized fundraising appeals.


This template is just one of the components of our Fundraising Appeals Toolkit. This toolkit give you the instruction, resources and inspiration to create a fully optimized fundraising appeal for your nonprofit organization (all for just $89 … the ROI is incredible)!

How Do You Actually Get a Donor Visit?

How Do You Actually Get a Donor Visit?

What’s the best way to get a donor visit? How do you actually start the process?

I actually start with an email. When I started my career the advice was not to do this. We used the traditional snail mail letter instead. The thought was that wasn’t very personal and therefore it wasn’t the best way to start a donor conversation. But now the world has changed everybody spends most of their day in their email inbox. That makes it a great way to approach them. It’s somewhere where they’re going to see your invitation right away.

So, I start with an email. But it’s not any old email, it’s an optimized email template. It is an email that is designed to get a response, it is personalized, it is time tested and it’s works great for me. It works great because it addresses some donor fears right in the email. The first fear is time … they think a meeting will take all day. So, I say right in my email that it will just be a brief 20 minute update meeting.

Their other major fear is that I am going to ask the for money. Specifically, for a donation amount that they are uncomfortable with. So, if I’m not planning to make an ask I will say so. I’ll say you that “I just want to come out and give you an update and get some feedback — I will not be asking you to renew your support at this time.”

Watch the video above for a live screen share of me using my optimized template to request a donor visit.

When using this optimized visit request email, I receive about a 60% response rate. 60% of people will respond. They don’t all say “yes” but we begin the conversation. For the 40% that don’t respond, I pick up the phone and give them a call. However, these calls are much easier than cold calls because I can reference the email that I sent (which they didn’t reply to). On that call I will basically restate what was in the email and try to setup a meeting time right then and there.

So don’t reinvent the wheel. Develop an optimized template of your own. You can download mine and use it as a starting point. Send out some visit requests. Get out from behind your desk and meet your donors. That is the secret to transformational fundraising growth for your nonprofit organization.

9 Useful, Proven Strategies to Get the Major Donor Visit (Claire Axelrad)

I hear it all the time from workshop attendees (and clients) … “If I could just get the visit, I’d be fine. I’m good with people. They just won’t meet with me.”

There’s definitely a science and an art to getting donor visits. But as Claire Axelrad points out in this week’s featured article, the first step is to “acknowledge that the hardest part of fundraising is getting the visit.”

That’s definitely true. And sometimes you don’t even have to get the visit for it to be effective. Simply offering an update visit to a donor is sometimes sufficient. They feel important, appreciated and remembered. That’s really our end goal, isn’t it?

Claire goes on to give nine strategies to help with getting donor visits, many of which I have successfully used in the past. So check our her expert article “9 Useful, Proven Strategies to Get the Major Donor Visit.” Happy reading!


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.

5 Questions To Maximize Your Time With Donors

5 Questions to Maximize Your Time with Donors

What’s your favorite question to ask when meeting with donors? Here are my five favorites which always lead to enlightening conversations …

  • What do you know about us?

  • What first led you to become involved with our organization?

  • What excites you about our current programming?

  • What could we be doing better?

  • How did you come to be so generous?

Hate Networking? Try These Fun, Provoking Questions

Hate Networking? Try These Fun, Provoking Questions

Networking events…most fundraisers either love them or hate them.

We’ve all heard the basic tips, like don’t try to break into a big group and to seek out the loners off to the side. But then, what do we ask about? We ask about work! (It’s what everybody just finished doing, after all). But, even if you love your job, you probably don’t want to talk about work at this point in the day.

So what should you talk about? In a bit, I’ll share two great networking questions that I use a lot, and will point your conversations in the right direction.

But first, let’s take a step back. What’s our goal at these events? It’s not to get donations. It’s not to talk about business. Our goal, really, is to build connections with people. To find common ground and start a new relationships that we can deepen later. Maybe it’ll lead to donations or other connections down the line, but that’s not our primary goal at the event.

So if it (work) is not our primary goal, why are we talking about it?! Instead, let’s talk about HUMAN things – interests or hobbies that allow us to build common ground. Our favorite sports teams. Our kids and families. The good stuff!

To start these kinds of conversations, my favorite question is: “What do you like to do when you’re not at work or events like this?” Bingo – instantly they start talking about their hobbies or their family or something important to them. Then you can find common ground and have a conversation about that.

My second favorite question, if it’s somebody a little more fun or we just have some good initial conversation, is “What are you nerding out to these days?” The word “nerd” itself kind of creates a chuckle, and fun. And then they just get into what they’re interested in.

So those are my questions. Use those, or come up with your own. There’s lots of great lists of other networking questions online, but the key is not not talk about work at networking events. Talk about interests. Talk about stuff that’s fun. You’ll be memorable and you’ll build stronger connections.

Donor Relations Guru: A Treasure Trove of Event Collateral Samples

We don’t all have access to a high level graphic designer who can guide our choices in event collateral. Yet we all know that an eye for vibrant colors and thoughtful layout can make a difference in engaging donors and sponsors. But there are so many items to consider! Donor relations collateral can include your program branding, signage, impact reports, event photo books, campaign case statements, and more. We all want to make the boring look more interesting, but how?

Lynne Wester, the Donor Relations Guru, and her team just completed their annual Event Collateral Swap. 

They’ve amassed an amazing collection of nearly 1,200 pages of samples from nonprofits in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. They hope you’ll use these FREE samples for benchmarking and to inspire new ideas for your organization’s events. Including Invitations and Save-the-Dates, Programs and Menus, Email Communications, Sponsorship Samples, Signage, Photos and Decor, Videos and Websites, and Miscellaneous ideas. You’ll find page after page to get the creative thoughts of you and your team flowing. The event collateral files are downloadable and have comments giving specific details on the work shown.

So, check out this treasure trove today …


Twice a week Chad sends out quick tips, free fundraising templates/samples, links to articles by industry gurus and top notch recommendations.  Want in? Subscribers are also eligible to win his monthly swag bag drawing featuring great fundraising books, gear and a $100 donation to your cause!

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