The only thing you need to know about a successful sustainer strategy

Two words: Lifetime value Ok – it’s a little more complicated than that. But understanding lifetime value is where a successful sustainer strategy starts. Too often organizations don’t recognize the tension between lifetime value and immediate budget goals. They want a sustainer strategy to increase their donor pool’s lifetime value, but they don’t want toread more

Are Your Stories Negative Enough?

If you ever saw the movie Adaptation, you’re at least somewhat familiar with fabled story coach Robert McKee (no relationship to Alia). Though played by an actor in the movie, McKee is very much a real person, and his seminars have influenced the work of some of this generation’s best storytellers. He’s also a characterread more

Complaints are opportunities: Expletives deleted

Last week, a client received an expletive-laced email complaining about the quality of their premiums and the consistency of their delivery. The email author is a senior and wants to pass on the premiums to his grandchildren to encourage their interest in the cause. Expletives-aside, I was struck by how passionate the donor was aboutread more

Identity Fundraising

In the most underrated chapter of the underrated “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” Chip and Dan Heath offer some pure gold for all of us in the persuasion business. The chapter entitled “Grow Your People” addresses the near limitless power of appealing to identity. Tell a group of at-risk elementary schoolread more

Fundraisers and Bounty Hunters

It never ceases to amaze me how many senior level nonprofit execs still conflate fundraisers with bounty hunters. “Go forth and bag me some dollars,” these CEOs cry. It conjures the image of a 19th Century varmint trapper, loaded up with musket, traps and provisions, trekking into the woods in search of prey. For theread more

The revolution will be televised: Entertainment to learn from

We are living through a golden age of entertainment. Podcasts like This American Life, Serial, Invisibilia and Radiolab are taking storytelling to a whole new plateau — connecting listeners to emotional stories that are told with scientific and journalistic integrity. TV shows like The Wire, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent are creating aread more

Stop Obsessing About Millennials

I have two of them at home. Trust me, they do a good enough job obsessing about themselves. Giving is life stage dependent. Most millennials are preoccupied with launching careers in a mega-crappy job market, or starting families, or both. According to our research millennial giving represents about 11 percent of all dollars donated –read more