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An Ahern audit: There's nothing even close
Answer inside: "Do your donor communications really help you raise money?"
For starters, we measure your stuff against two dozen vital professional and psychological criteria. It's full disclosure. Do you dare?

"Tom, Thank you. How you can make a group of people this excited to read about what they have to work on - I don't know. But our team couldn't agree more with your insight in this audit. Your observations reinforced our suspicions around some of our work and made us look critically at other areas that we've never really considered before. We can't wait to implement all of this amazing feedback into our work." -- Megan Hodges, Harlem RBI, 2015

Are your charity's fundraising, advocacy or other "persuasion" communications riddled with common, hidden flaws that limit their effectiveness?

Based on extensive research, at least 90% of the time the honest answer will be yes. Most donor communications I see are inadvertently built to fail.

How many times have I had to say, "Your newsletter sucks at raising money and building retention ... for the usual reasons."

Despair? Au contraire!

Now you can know ... for sure ... whether your communications stuff actually works.

And learn exactly how to fix the stuff that isn't working.

Subject your communications program to the excruciating truth of an Ahern audit. For the first time, see your communications as they should be seen: through donors' and other potential supporters' eyes.

It doesn't take long. It's surprisingly affordable. And we get deeply under the sofa cushions. [Sample executive summary from 17-page community foundation audit.]

It's not subjective. It's science-ish.

Our unique diagnostic evaluates both writing and design, using measures that include science (such as Siegfried Vôgele's eye motion studies and Colin Wheildon's readability studies) as well as experience (what the direct mail industry has discovered about donor psychology) and expert opinion.

This audit catches what all other audits miss: the all-important psychological and subliminal factors that lead to increased response and donor retention.

Our audit is based on best practices gathered from the world's top experts. We evaluate dozens of key criteria and ask the important questions.
  • Are you answering the three essential donor questions?
  • Are your communications built for speed? (These days, they have to be.)
  • Are you exploiting your "browser level" powerfully? Or at all? Are you exploiting the 7 visual elements that convey information at light speed?
  • Are you confusing (to your detriment) activities with accomplishments?
  • Have you framed your message correctly to achieve your goals? Or are you saying the wrong things to your target audience?
  • Are you speaking to the heart? Have you enriched your communications with plenty of vitamin E-for-Emotion?
  • Do your communications reach all four personality types? Or are you missing some big opportunities to connect, intrigue, interest, and inspire?
  • Are your graphics turning readers on … or off?
And that's not all. Off the top of my head, even I can't remember everything that goes into one of my audits.

How long will your diagnostic take? How much will it cost?

Compared to what's at stake, not much…as little as a few hours, costing just a few hundred dollars, for a review of, say, an issue of your donor newsletter.

A full audit, examining a complex communications program, can cost as much as $50K. Most, though, end up in the $10K-$25K range.
If you see this body language, don your armor. Translation: "You're selling, but I'm not buying. Nor will your donors."

By the way: if I choose to audit your stuff, please understand that I will freely show your stuff, with my comments, to audiences around the world. These audiences number in the thousands annually, and they're eager learners.

I will be respectful. But frank.
If you're not ready for that exposure, then you're not ready for me.
Copyright © 2005-2015 & ∞, by Tom Ahern and Ahern Donor Communications, Ink. All rights reserved. Cool portrait photo: Jonathan Feist
10 Johnson Road, Foster, RI 02825, Phone: 401-397-8104, Email: Twitter handle: thattomahern.