2017 Fundraising Trends

by Jim Shapiro on January 12, 2017

Let me look into the future and predict the fundraising trends for 2017.

  1. According to Blackbaud’s 2015 Charitable Giving Report, 93% of funds given to nonprofit organizations came from traditional means in 2015. That means major gifts, annual funds, fundraising events, checks, snail mail and by phone. Only 7% of donations to nonprofits came in online. Online fundraising will increase over time, but the data is clear that direct mail and face-to-face fundraising have not been replaced by digital technology.
  2. Donor systems will continue to improve and be delivered at a lower cost. Consider donor system platforms like Bloomerang and Little Green Light. They are taking on the big system providers and winning.
  3. Most of your fundraising revenue will come from a few key, select donors. Major donor fundraising is not dead! If you want to have fundraising success in 2017, makie it a huge priority to identify and communicate with donors who can give you $1,000 or more.
  4. Earlier I shared that 93% of funds given to nonprofits came inform traditional means. This doesn’t mean we ignore online, digital fundraising. I see a trend where more money will start to come in online this year and in years to come. But the key is to spend the appropriate amount of time and money on online fundraising. For instance, don’t go ‘all in’ on online fundraising unless you’ve maximized your major donor communications and relationships first!

Do you see more fundraising trends in 2017?  If so, add them to the comment section or email me at jim@betterfundraising.com.


How to Raise More Money in 2017

by Jim Shapiro on January 5, 2017

Now that 2016 is in your review mirror, it is time to start raising money to meet your 2017 fundraising goals.  Here are four tips for you taken directly from what worked for our clients:

  1. Stop talking about your organization and start talking about your beneficiaries. Donors want to solve problems. They want to help people in need. They don’t give to fund you or your programs, so stop talking about your organization.
  2. If you want to raise more money you have to talk to your donors more often. But not every new communication piece should be an Ask. Use our Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat communication rhythm to raise more money and build stronger relationships with your donors.
  3. Featuring a Matching gift will increase your fundraising results. And here’s what we’ve found again and again; don’t use this tactic only once, use it multiple times through your year. Donor’s don’t get tired of doubling their gifts!
  4. Make it as easy as possible for your donors to give their next gift. Include response cards and envelopes in your appeals and newsletters. Make sure your online giving form is easy to find and easy to use. Do all that you can to reduce barriers in the way of your donors making their next gift.

These are the 4 easiest things you can do to raise more money this year.  If you have other ideas, please post them in the comment section or send me an email jim@betterfundraising.com!


Yes. You read that headline correctly. You can raise money when you send your donors their 2016 tax summary letter.

Many organizations send donors a letter thanking them for their generosity and summarizing their giving in the previous year.

And many smart organizations raise a lot of money with this letter.  Here’s how . . .

Think of your letter as an appeal letter that just happens to have the donor’s previous giving amounts enclosed.  Put another way, their 2016 giving history is a conversation starter – and then you steer the conversation to why their first gift in 2017 will be so impactful.  Here’s what to do:

  • The outer envelope should say something similar to, “Your 2016 Tax Information enclosed” or “Your 2016 Giving Record enclosed.”  This is what causes the donor to open the letter.
  • The donor’s tax info can be in 1 of 3 places:
    1. In the letter copy (for instance, in a specially-indented paragraph)
    2. On 1/3 of the letter in it’s own little section
    3. On a separate sheet of paper.  This is most often done for donors who give several gifts each year and each gift is listed.
  • The letter should begin by emotionally thanking the donor for their incredible generosity, and tell them that a summary of their giving to [organization name] is enclosed.
  • The letter should then briefly summarize a need that the organization meets, and explain how the donor’s gift meets that need.  This might be something like, ‘there are too many homeless families in our neighborhood’ followed by ‘your gift of $X.XX provides one night of safe housing for a family.’

End the letter by thanking the donor again for their previous giving, and then ask them to ‘renew their support’ by sending in a gift today to help a family who needs help.

As is in most cases with direct communications, include a response card and response envelope. Make it as easy as possible for your donors to send in their donation.

If you don’t normally send out an appeal in January or February, this is a GREAT way to build trust with your donors.  You start by Thanking them for their previous giving, and then are honest that their generosity in 2017 is both needed and will make a difference!


“Send in a gift before midnight December 31st”

by Jim Shapiro on December 22, 2016

This one simple phase can boost your year-end fundraising.  Use it early and use it often in your year-end appeal letters, emails, and major donor appeals.

Why does this phrase work? Because it tells donors exactly what to do and by when. The use of ‘midnight December 31st’ creates urgency. If the donor doesn’t act now they will miss the opportunity to help by the deadline.

This phrase is clear, easy to understand and gives the donor simple instructions to follow.

So, go now and use this phrase in your year-end communications. Your donors will love it and respond to it.  And you’ll love explaining to your boss why you raised more money this December!


Why Does “Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat” Work?

by Jim Shapiro on December 15, 2016

I recently received an email from a woman I met at a conference I spoke at. She ended her email with this comment; “Because of your knowledge I have been kickin’ a** fundraising and will only get better as we make more money, add more staff, and implement more of your plan!”

Reading this made me ask myself, ‘Why does Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat work so well?’ Here are just some of the reasons . . .

  1. Fundraising is not a talent issue, it is a knowledge issue. The fundraising fundamentals I teach can be learned by most anyone. The key is they must have the willingness to learn.
  2. Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat puts the donor at the center of the fundraising conversation. The system honors the donor, their stewardship decisions and gives them the credit for making the world a better place because of their donation.
  3. You will communicate more often to your donors when using Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat. The system requires you to Ask with clarity, Thank promptly and Report back emotionally. Doing these things means you’ll communicate to your donors more often – which is a very good thing for most nonprofits.

My hope is as you run fast into 2017 you will consider learning more about Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat.  And that you will leverage the fundraising power behind this simple, donor-centered communication rhythm.


How to Raise More Money Before Midnight, December 31st!

by Jim Shapiro on December 8, 2016

It’s time for our final – and perhaps most important – video of 2016!  Watch it now to learn how to raise as much money as possible and maximize your year-end fundraising season.

It’s a quick 3-minute overview of the year-end fundraising tactics that raise the most money.  Because there are still lots of things you can be doing between now and the end of the year that will help you and your organization raise more money.

Chances are, your organization raises more money this month than any other month of the year.  I know you’re already really busy, but I know you’ll find this helpful in these final, important weeks.

Thank for all you do to make the world a better place!

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas


This is the most fruitful fundraising time of the year? Now is the time to be asking your donors for a generous gift. Don’t wait!

  • Pick up the phone right now and ask your major donor to make a year-end donation.
  • Send out an email today to your entire email database. The email can be short, to the point and include multiple hyperlinks to your giving page.
  • Take over the homepage of your website to promote the opportunity for visitors to make a donation.
  • If you have a funding shortfall this time of year, talk about it! Donors love to give to solve problems.

If you wait to raise money until January, it will be too late. Make it as easy as possible for your donors to make a gift and ask them often from now until midnight on the 31st!.


Why Giving Tuesday Works

by Jim Shapiro on December 2, 2016

I received an email from one of our clients mid-day on Giving Tuesday. Here is what it said: “As of noon today, Giving Tuesday has raised $6,555! We have already exceeded what we raised on Giving Tuesday the past 2 years.”

This was great news! We all could use an additional $6,555 for our missions. But it got me thinking about why Giving Tuesday worked so well for this organization and why it can work for yours too:

  1. A Deadline with Consequences: Giving Tuesday lasts for 24 hours. If donors don’t give a gift by the end of the day they miss the opportunity to help.
  2. A Clear, Affordable Offer: This organization has a fundraising offer that is easy to understand: help a homeless mom and her kids. This simple storyline combined with a low price point ($35 to provide a night of safety) makes it easy for donors to make a giving decision. You want the donor to think, “Giving this gift is a no-brainer. Of course I’ll help!”
  3. Create Opportunities for Matching Gifts: In this particular case the donors gift was doubled if they gave a gift during Giving Tuesday. Donors never tire of matching gift opportunities. It makes them feel like they got a deal for doing a good thing—a win-win situation.

In addition to what I mentioned above, I believe the greatest value Giving Tuesday brings to a nonprofit like yours is free marketing and promotion. Everyone is talking about it. It’s all over social media. It’s covered on the news. Other nonprofits are talking about it. Co-workers are talking about it. Your donors can’t but help hearing about Giving Tuesday!

My hope is next year you will take advantage of this special day. Even if you just raise a few thousand dollars, it is worth your time to ask your donors to give a gift during Giving Tuesday.


Raise More Money This Time of Year!

by Jim Shapiro on November 29, 2016

Now is the time to leverage the year-end fundraising season and get the most out of your fundraising!

This video shows you a simple plan that will help you maximize your fundraising efforts by the end of the year.  We show you the three main things you need to do, and we list them in order of importance.

This video is a little longer than most of our videos because the things we share with you are so essential to successful year-end fundraising.

By the end of the video you will know exactly what to do to take full advantage of this fundraising season and how to honor your donors in the process.

Watch the video now!


Raise More Money by Asking More Often!

by Jim Shapiro on November 28, 2016

I recently was asked to help a charity develop a plan to raise money to buy a 12-passenger van. They had secured a matching grant from a local foundation and had desperate need for the van to help increase the number of people they could serve.

By the last day of their campaign they had exceeded their goal by almost $4,000! Looking back over the fundraising strategy I see that a couple important ingredients were in play.

  1. A human-sized problem for the donor to solve was clearly articulated. The donor via their giving could solve the problem.
  2. We communicated to donors multiple times via multiple platforms including email, hard copy letter and website. The leadership team was anxious about the number of times we asked for a donation. But every time we sent out an email more money would come in. It’s fundraising magic. The more times you ask (typically) the more money you raise.
  3. We asked for more money than we thought we could receive. The campaign goal was lofty and the leadership team knew this, but they also knew they had to stretch their donors to give more and think bigger than their pervious giving.

You can learn from and apply these fundraising fundamentals to your next fundraising effort. Especially as you head into the last few weeks of the year. If you need to raise more money, one of the most effective things you can do is to simply Ask more often!