Does Your Fundraising Event Need a Facelift?

Does your fundraising event feel tired, old and in need of a facelift?  If so, then here are a few pro tips to help you bring life back to your fundraising event — and raise more money!

Pro Tips:

  1. Keep your event short and to the point.  Most fundraising events leave their guests feeling tired and worn out.  You don’t want that.  You want them to leave feeling refreshed and feeling good after they make their charitable gift.  For banquet style events try to keep the entire event to less than 90 minutes.
  2. If the main goal of your event is to raise money, it is very important to put all of the typical business items at the beginning.  Then get to the storytelling and fundraising portion of your event.  The “typical business items” I’m talking about include announcements, introducing board members, having a program staff member talk, etc.  Put another way, anything that has little to do with the problem you are asking the donor to solve with their gift should be done quickly and right way.
  3. Create a great fundraising offer for your event, then weave your offer throughout the event from start to finish.  You fundraising offer should clearly communicate the problem you are asking the donor to solve and how much it will cost to solve it.  For example, “$60 provides a night of safety to a homeless Mom and her kids.”  Mention your offer throughout the night, building a case for it, so that when you come to the Ask it all makes sense to the people in the room.
  4. Ask!  I have attended way too many fundraising events where the organizers are afraid to ask the donors in the room to make a donation.  Be specific.  Tell the people in the room exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.

Use these pro tips to improve your next fundraiser.  If you can make your Ask simple, clear and bold, your donors will leave feeling great about you, the event and the donation they made to make the world a better place.


Raise More Money with Your Appeals

Here are five quick tips that will help your next appeal letters and e-appeals raise more money.   Print this out and set it next to your keyboard the next to you write an appeal.  Because if you do these things I guarantee you’ll raise more money!

  1. You have to ask for help. If you don’t ask boldly, fewer donors will give!
  2. Remind your donors of the need. Most donors need to be reminded multiple times of the need your organization meets or the problem your organization solves.
  3. Have an Offer. Put another way, your Offer should describe a specific thing that the donor’s gift will do or accomplish.  ask donors to help in specific ways. Your donors want to help, but can only help if they know how
  4. Tell a real-life story to illustrate the need. Don’t use big numbers or statistics, tell an emotional story.
  5. Remember that most donors won’t read the whole letter – but they will scan So use underlining or bolding to highlight the two or three most important things you want them to read.  Here’s what we underline in the letters we work on:
    • The need or problem.
    • The solution and it’s cost.
    • A bold request for the donor to give a gift today.

Those are the ‘big ideas’ that will help you be successful if you’d like to know even more, click here to watch a short video we made to help you.

Major Donor Fundraising: The Lonely Major Donor Rep – Is That You?

Major Donor Fundraising

Major donor fundraising work can be lonely work.

Unless you work for a large charity, odds are you have to manage a major donor portfolio AND are also tasked with other fundraising or administrative tasks.

Here are a few tips to help you improve your major donor productivity while improving your work life.

  • There is no need to feel lonely. Your major donors want to meet with you, talk with you about your work and help people in need.  Think of them as your friends.  Every day you have time in your calendar for coffee or lunch meetings.  Ask your major donors to meet with you for these normal, every day activities.
  • Reach out to other fundraising and major donor reps from organizations in your area. Meet once a month to talk about the work you are doing.  This is a great way to learn from others — and to share in the ups and downs of your work.
  • Ask a co-worker to hold you accountable to productivity goals. This can be anyone from your organization that you trust.  They don’t have to have any fundraising experience.  They just need to understand what you are trying to achieve and be willing to hold you accountable to that work.
  • Join a local fundraising association. Attend their classes, webinars, and conferences.  There is a community of fundraising professionals out there that love to share ideas.  Connect with them!
  • Ask your boss for clear productivity goals. This is true for your non-fundraising tasks as well.  If you are wearing multiple hats at your organization it is important for you to know what success looks like for each “hat.”  The more you know, the more you can grow!

I hope these ideas help you find ways to connect with others and encourage you to give your best effort each day.

Create a Donor-Centered Newsletter That Raises Money!


Over the past few weeks we have blogged about how to Report back to your donors using donor-centered newsletters.

As you set out to do the important job of Reporting, here’s a short list of the most powerful tips to make your next newsletter a blockbuster:

  • It’s not about you!  Try to connect your donor directly with the beneficiary and limit (or preferably eliminate entirely) any organizational or institutional news.
  • Make it easy to scan and still get the message. Most donors have limited time to engage with your material. If they open your mailings, most are just scanning your newsletter for the highlights.  Really make sure your main message is in your headlines and picture captions – the things most likely to get red.  Don’t hide the good news at the end of an article!
  • While the newsletter is primarily a reporting vehicle, you should still ask for money.  Good newsletters raise lots of money! Balance the reporting and fundraising to give the donor great information about the impact of their giving and the chance to continue participating with your mission.  On a 4-page newsletter I do 3 pages of Reporting and use 1 page to present a need that donor can meet with a gift today.

Keep this list in front of you as you build your next newsletter. It will help you “keep the main thing the main thing” – and build a newsletter that Reports and raises money!

You Too Can Raise $1,500,000!

Ask ?

Over the past few months I’ve been working with a small, rural charity that serves homeless moms and kids. They want to increase their impact and they needed more space to do it, so they hired Better Fundraising to help them with a capital campaign.

I’m happy to report that this little charity has already raised over $1,500,000!

If I told you that this tiny organization could raise that much money, you would have laughed at me.

And even more amazing is that this funding has come from less than 10 donors.

I share this to encourage you as you seek funding for your charity.  I also share this with you to teach you that it only takes a few key donors to achieve fundraising success.

I don’t have room here to share everything you need to raise $1,500,000 in such a short amount of time.  But email me if you want to talk, and I can share with you a few highlights…

  • Build a fundraising Offer that is clear and easy to understand. Don’t bog it down with a bunch of details or process related information.  And be sure it includes the problem you hope to solve – not just the sunshiney fantastic future.
  • Ask your board members to make the first pledge gift to the campaign. Their leadership is important and so is their money!
  • Identify your top donors and then ask them to make a significant gift.
  • Be bold. Ask your donors to give more than you think they can give. It is their job to downgrade their gift if needed.  That’s not your job.

I believe that most any charity can have fundraising success just like the organization I’ve been working with.  And if you want to be confident your fundraising is going to work, please let me know.  I’d love to help.  You can email me at

VIDEO: Improve Your Donor Newsletter Today


Your Newsletter is the “Report” in Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat.  It is where your donors find out if giving your organization a gift was a good idea – or not.

And if you are like most fundraising directors, you are about to create a donor newsletter.  Because this is the time of year when many organizations Report back to donors.

Hopefully, you’re Reporting to them the amazing things that happened because they gave a gift to your charity – not just bragging about the things your organization has been doing.

Remember, your donors gave you their money but they don’t know what happened to their gift after you received it.  But they need to know if you ever want them to give another gift!  So your newsletter’s “one job” is to show donors the impact of their gift.

Last February we posted this video that shows how to improve your donor newsletter.  It’s just 3-minutes long and is a great summary plus useful tips as you create your next newsletter.

Click here to watch – and then go Report to your donors and raise more money!

Be Confident!

Ask ?

Are you confident in your fundraising abilities and plan? If you are like most fundraising professionals, your answer is  – – “Well . . . kind of.”

Most fundraisers I work with know they need to raise more money.  They are familiar with the tools and resources that raise money.  But if they take a step back and really think about it – they aren’t that confident and they know they could do better.

So how do you gain confidence in your fundraising?  Try these things:

  • Learn from experts in the field of fundraising, specifically experts that have tested assumptions and have data to support their findings. Here is a list to the top 100 fundraising blogs. Find one you haven’t read before, and go learn from some of the top people in the field!
  • Track the results of everything you do, and only repeat what worked the best. This goes for email, direct mail, major donor work, and events.  You can’t be confident unless you really know what worked and what didn’t.
  • Review your fundraising to see if you are Asking powerfully, Thanking emotionally, and Reporting with gratitude. If you’re not doing each of those three things well, we’re confident you could be raising more money.

Shower Your Donors With Love


Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to shower your donors with love!

Here are a few ways for you to love on your donors before February 14th:

  • Send your donors a Valentine’s card. Send the Valentine on behalf of your organization and staff.  Even better, have one of your beneficiaries sign it!
  • Send flowers to your top donors. During the December holiday rush it is common to receive gifts and treats from friends, family, co-workers and business associates.  What’s to stop you from sending flowers to your top donors? Include a ‘donor love’ note!
  • Pick up the phone just a few days before the 14th. Let the donor know how much you appreciate their giving. And how your beneficiaries LOVE knowing that your donor cared enough to send in a generous donation.

The big takeaway here is to leverage the holiday. This is a great chance for you to show your donors that you love and appreciate them.  And here’s the not-so-secret payoff; donors that feel loved and appreciated are more likely to give future gifts!