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Recent Newsletters
LATEST E-News ... Part 3
Competent on Purpose
Competent on purpose -- PART 2
What every fundraiser should know about donor comms, IMHO
Part 1: Competent on purpose
What every fundraiser should know about donor comms, IMHO
14.10: The Ugly Truth
Is "prettiness" cost effective?
14.9: Will good grammar save us?
Your 10th-grade English teacher was right ... about nothing related to sales.
Reprinting Material
Feel free to reprint, with attribution, articles from this website and Ahern's Love Thy Reader e-newsletter. Many already do. Please let your readers know that they can SUBSCRIBE to my e-newsletter for FREE. Thank you!
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Jerry Panas sends holiday gift...
Ahern how-to book chosen as elite major gifts "classic"
One of 39 chosen for The Signature Collection of Inst. for Charitable Giving
On Dec. 23, 2010, Jerry Panas wrote: "Seeing Through a Donor's Eyes has now been selected as a distinguished book in The Signature Collection of the Institute for Charitable Giving. Congratulations." The title is one of 39 chosen. The press materials go on to say, "There are countless books on fundraising. Many are quite good. A handful are very special. But in the area of major gifts and gift planning, there are precious few from which to choose. And an even smaller number that have stood the test of time and can be considered classics, of sui generis status. The Institute for Charitable Giving has attempted to assemble a roster of books it feels every major and planned giving professional will find productive and of particular relevancy."
12/30/10
A donor newsletter is born...
Take them on a journey
Houston Grand Opera mails its supporters a backstage tour
Researcher Adrian Sargeant advises organizations to take their supporters "on a journey," as a way of building relationships and loyalty. The Houston Grand Opera is doing just that, by means of this quarterly print newsletter. The content focuses on just four things: accomplishments, offers, building trust, and copious amounts of "donor love." See for yourself.
12/08/10
This is one of the best annual reports I know
Landmark AR is in
For three straight years, Sallie Mitchell has helmed the annual report at the Fairfield County Community Foundation.
She's a rare bird in the nonprofit world: a practitioner who came out of the FOR-profit sector, where marketing chops are honored and lack of success is humiliated. Real marketers (like Sallie) represent the opposite of today's "everyone gets a trophy, just for participating" environment. They want to win! Here is her latest annual report, with my comments.
12/06/10
Report from the direct mail frontlines
I have this lovely client
A large hospital system lets me write pretty much whatever I want
So, with their permission, I've been exploring the limits of donor-centricity, writing full-body flattery baths. And the results are in. On average, their routine donor renewal appeals (no special campaigns, no end of year) in the past brought in a 4% response; they mail several of these routine renewals each year. But .... here's the great news ... the new, no-holds-barred, donor-centric letter brought in a 6.7% response in the same role: a 75% improvement in response, by merely focusing on the supreme importance of donors.
11/25/10
A reader asks...
"How's our newsletter?"
As ever, headlines make the difference
Tulsa's wonderful Jayne L. Reed, cofounder of the Simon Estes Educational Foundation, sent her latest newsletter, asking for comments. My advice to Jayne:

If I would say anything, it's this: make your newsletter's headlines much more donor-centric -- and clearer, too.

Let me slip into workshop mode for a moment. Headlines are a reader convenience. They exist to summarize the gist of the story, so that a quickly browsing reader doesn't have to read the article. The best test of a headline's functionality is this: cover the article and show the headline to somebody who doesn't know the story and ask them to tell you what the story's about. If they can, then it's a successful headline. If they can't, then the headline needs a rewrite. ...read more
11/25/10
A reader writes...
Where's the growth?
Which nonprofit sector will be hiring fundraising copywriters?
"Hi, Tom, Wondering if you would weigh in on this question: Do you think one non-profit niche is more promising than others? Where do you see the most opportunity for copywriters/marketing types who wish to work with non-profits: Education? Health? Social issues? Others?"

I think great opportunities will emerge in two very big sectors: health care and higher education. ...read more
11/24/10
A reader writes...
"How donor-centric ARE we?"
"After all, 'only' one-quarter of our support is philanthropic"
This fundraiser wants to be wall-to-wall donor-centric. But she's not sure she has the right to talk that way. After all, she writes, "only" one-quarter of the agency's income is from donors of any sort, individuals or foundations. The other 3/4s derives from government funding.

I asked, "Is this really a conundrum?" My point: "If you are getting a quarter of your income from donors, I would call that a heavy philanthropic piece of the pie (vs., say, 2%). That's point A. ...read more
11/23/10
A reader writes...
Love hurts
Feelings come first; being right runs last
Dear Tom...

I’m a regular reader of your newsletter and follower/borrower of your ideas. Your most recent issue (with the great subject line about “your approval process eats rats”) arrived with impeccable timing, so here is my much overdue thank-you.

Our organization is in the silent phase of a $[X] million capital campaign and my boss is working with a consultant on the campaign collateral. She asked me, and a few other folks, to review the materials but only well into the process (draft #5). The material is mediocre at best (with misspellings and punctuation errors), and at worst, it fails the “you” test. The donor barely appears in the material. I expressed my concerns and offered several suggestions I know would improve the material but my boss told me: “I have to go with the consultant. She’s the expert and that’s what we’re paying her for.”

I thought I had expressed myself to my boss in a mature, quiet, confident, professional way, but after reading your newsletter I realize that I made a crucial mistake. ...read more
11/10/10
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10 Johnson Road, Foster, RI 02825, Phone: 401-397-8104, Email: a2bmail@aol.com Twitter handle: thattomahern.