Category: How tos

Why profitable fundraising communications are the work of specialists, not generalists … and why a standard-issue, untrained university marcomms department will almost certainly fail to deliver strong results when given a fundraising assignment which depends on an effective call to action

, How tos

This just in: A fundraising copywriter at a prestigious university now faces a change in her chain of command. The university’s new brooms don’t see why fundraising should have its own dedicated writer. In an org. chart maneuver that absolutely makes sense on paper, they want her to go back into the pool, to work inside the marketing communications group (a.k.a., marcomms). She asked… Read more »

U.S. News and Aetna Foundation Release Inaugural Healthiest Communities Rankings – and Texas isn’t on it. Texas is ranked #38 out of 50 states. Texas has poor access to decent healthcare that’s low quality in the first place.

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and civic journalism, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna, today announced the inaugural Healthiest Communities rankings. The new report evaluated nearly 3,000 communities nationwide across 10 categories, from education and population health to infrastructure and economy. In addition to assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, the rankings offer insight into the best approaches for improving public health that can be shared and implemented across the country.

At this latest fundraising conference, I at last began to wonder . . . 
”What is abuse?”


Witness one form of abuse unique to fundraising . . . You get the training. You learn, say, how and why donor-centered communications raise lots more money. But your boss doesn’t like the way donor-centered communications sound … so your boss says no.

Why? Because your boss doesn’t know any better. Because your boss trusts her own uninformed hunches, instincts, opinions more than she or he trusts you and the training you’ve just received. 

And you need the job . . .

Donor-centricity hardball: “Show me the money.”

In Reciprocity We Trust Newbies, skeptics, the timid (and Ian) DO worry: “So, Tom, where’s the irrefutable research that switching to ‘donor-centered’ communications will raise more money for our org. than the comms crap we now send out?” Mike wrote me a couple of weeks ago…. I’m an avid follower of your newsletters and webinars, so first a little bit of flattery. Thank you… Read more »

In Reciprocity We Trust

The headline of this article mentions “reciprocity.” That’s a concept researched by persuasion expert Dr. Robert Cialdini. Basically, reciprocity goes like this: when I give you something, I expect something back (subliminally). So…when I make a gift to your charity, what do you give me back? Thanks is merely transactional. Flattery is far more penetrating. Tell me I’m a wonderful person. Over and over and over. I’ll actually pay you for that.

Using Story to Change Systems

Humans have always used stories to make sense out of our chaotic world. When our ancestors had to kill animals they felt were kindred spirits to survive, they created myths to help them come to terms with it. When they invented agriculture, they created myths that glorified graft and highlighted the seasonal nature of existence. When they began to settle, humans created myths imbuing cities with transcendence. As Yuval Noah Harari describes in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, story went on to play a vital role in building all subsequent civilizations.

Study Measures How Central Texas Companies Support Nonprofits

Does your Central Texas company have a philanthropic/giving budget? How do you engage your employees in philanthropy? And which causes is your organization most likely to support? An annual survey of companies in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown and the surrounding Central Texas area poses these and other questions to provide insights on how local organizations engage in philanthropy. The online Survey of Corporate Giving,… Read more »