"Let's Talk Nonprofit" is a blog by Third Sector Consulting that addresses common questions that nonprofits have. Questions about fundraising. Questions about boards. Questions about what's going on in the nonprofit sector today. Ready? Let's Talk Nonprofit.

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Secret to raising more money, Treating your donors differently
Do you treat your donors more like VIPs or more like ATMs? Donors are, indeed, very important people. They are the reason your nonprofit can do its good work. Sadly, too many nonprofits treat their donors like bank machines. Donations are transactions. Thank you letters look and read more like a receipt than a genuine expression of gratitude. This post focuses how you can treat your donors more like VIPs. (read more)

3 Easy Ways to Show Donor Love
Do you know the most important word in fundraising? I'll give you a clue. I've used it twice already. It's "you" - as in "you," the donor. Your donor is the reason you can do your good work. Yet many nonprofits fail in giving their donors this kind of credit. They don't show enough #donorlove in their donor communications. This post will share 3 simple ways you can show more #donorlove. When you do, you'll keep more donors. And when you keep more donors, you'll raise more money. (read more)

Donors Want Outcomes, Not Activities
Fundraising is a cycle: ask, thank, report, repeat. Unfortunately, far too many nonprofits skip the "report" piece. And, the fact is, if you skip the reporting step, you're losing donors. Why? Because research finds that donors just want three things before they'll give again. One is "measurable results on their gifts at work before they are asked for more money." This post explores how you can report measurable results (or outcomes) to your donors. (read more)

3 P's of Better Thank Yous

Three P's of Better Thank Yous
Do you know what donors want? More importantly, are you giving them what they want? When you do, they're more likely to give again and give more when they do. Research tells us that donors want three very specific things. They aren't especially hard to do, yet most nonprofits don't. At least not very well. The first thing donors want is to be acknowledged: promptly, personally, and in a personalized way. This post explores what that means and how can you do it better. (read more)

Want to Raise More Money Focus on Donor Retention
Does your nonprofit want to raise more money this year? If so, now is a great time to start. Make a New Year's Resolution to improve your donor retention rate. Because when you keep more donors, you can raise more money. While that's a simple concept, it's not easy to do. But it doesn't have to be hard, either. This is the first in a series of posts to help you improve donor retention. Because when you do, you'll raise more money for your nonprofit this year - and every year. (read more)

3 Things You Don't Want to Do In Your Year-End Fundraising Appeal
It's almost time. The time of year when your donors' mailboxes are filled with year-end fundraising appeals. If you haven't gotten your year-end appeal out the door yet, be sure to take a few minutes right now and read this post. Instead of things to do, you'll find three things you don't want to do. (This post was inspired by Steven Screen and The Better Fundraising Co.) (read more)

5 Little Things That Will Make a Big Difference in Your Next Fundraising Appeal
Here's a little fundraising inspiration from the football field. Bear Bryant, legendary coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, once said, "Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things." That's true for your fundraising appeal, too. Yes, there are best practices in letter writing - those are the big things. This post shares 5 simple "little things" you can do to make your next fundraising letter stand out. (read more)

4 Ways to Raise More Money The 'Right' Ways
There's a saying in fundraising: You'll raise more money when the right person asks the right prospect for the right amount at the right time. While that's true for major donors and capital campaigns, it's also true for your general donors and your annual fund as well. This post explains 4 "right" ways to make sure you're writing a terrific fundraising letter, every day. You'll learn how to write a better fundraising letter for your year-end campaign - and any campaign, any time of year. (read more)

9 Measures of Fundraising Success Beyond The Bottom Line
The start of a nonprofit's new (fiscal) year is always an exciting time, with new fundraising goals to meet or exceed. Yet far too many nonprofit leaders rely on the budget - the bottom line - to measure annual success. In fact, there are many ways (and reasons) to measure various components of your fundraising campaigns. This post explores 9 essential metrics and offers tools to help you calculate and track them - so your fundraising stays on track all year long. (read more)

5 Takeaways from the Giving USA Report and What They Mean To You
Charitable giving in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2017, crossing the $400 billion mark. (Yes, billion with a "b.") This is one of the findings from the most recent Giving USA report, which tracks annual giving trends. Here are five highlights from the Giving USA 2018 report and why these takeaways matter to you. (read more)

Is Your Writing Too Long, Too Short, or Just Right
Twitter recently increased the number of characters per tweet from 140 to 280. Just because you can say more, should you? The same question holds true for grants. If you're writing an online application and the response allows 300 words, do you need to use all 300 words? If it's a paper application, and you're allowed 5 pages, do you need to fill every page? And what about your donor appeals? What's the right length of the fundraising materials you write for your nonprofit? (read more)

What Your Donors Really, Really Want
Donor retention is key to a nonprofit's annual campaign and overall fundraising success. Yet many donors focus on getting new donors, rather than keeping the ones they have. So, how do you keep donors? By giving them what they want. And what do donors want? It's surprisingly simple. Do these few simple things, and you'll drive donor commitment, loyalty and retention - and raise more money. (read more)

Meeting Your Fundraising Goal - This Year and Next
There's been a lot of talk lately about the President's proposed budget for 2018, which seeks to reduce or eliminate hundreds of programs. The key word is "proposed." The proposed cuts may or may not happen. Regardless, what the President has proposed should serve as a reminder to all nonprofits that it's important to create and keep a diverse revenue stream. And it all starts with your fundraising plan. (read more)

How to Get Donors to Like You and Give More
Dale Carnegie's seminal book, "How To Win Friends and Influence People," was published 80 years ago. It's an oldie...and a goodie. It wasn't written for fundraisers. However, there are many lessons you can apply when you want to raise more money for your nonprofit. Use what you learn here to build relationships, make stronger appeals, and show appreciation to your donors. Then, you'll raise more money. (read more)

Anatomy of a Stellar Thank You Letter
Here are some simple truths: When you give someone a gift, you expect them to say "thank you." And when a donor makes a contribution to your nonprofit, you should always say thank you. In writing. It doesn't have to be handwritten. It could be a typed letter. Or even email. Whatever medium you choose, your "thank you" should have some basic elements. Follow these four simple steps and you'll take your thank you letters from average to All Star! (read more)

15 Fun Facts from the Giving USA 2016 Report
For more than 60 years, the Giving USA report has provided insights into the sector. This annual report tells us about U.S. giving trends from the last year. It gives us a benchmark for philanthropy and helps us understand who's giving - and to whom. This year's headline read "2015 Was America's Most-Generous Year Ever." And that's good news for the nonprofit sector. And that's not all the good news. Read on for 15 giving facts that you need to know. (read more)

How You Should Be Talking To Your Donors
Penelope Burk literally wrote the book on "Donor Centered Fundraising" in 2003. So, the idea of donor-centricity isn't new. What's donor-centricity, you ask? It's organizing everything you do around the wants and needs of your donor. And in nonprofit communications, there's nothing more important than making the message about your donor. Here are some examples of how a lot of nonprofits talk to their donors...and how you should be talking to your donors. (read more)

Do You Have Board Members or Bored Members
You know those conference name badges with the colorful ribbons that say "Speaker," "Sponsor" and the like? I attended a conference recently where some attendees were wearing strips that said "Bored Member." (They were tchotchkes from the exhibitor's hall, and they were the hottest item there.) Silly as it seems, it does make you think. Does your nonprofit have "bored members?" Are you one yourself? If you answered yes, here's how you can change that. (read more)

Do You Have Too Many Competing Priorities
The new year. It's a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. It's a time for plans...and priorities. If you're like most people, you probably feel like you have too many things to do. And you wonder how you'll get them all done. There's no doubt that most nonprofit employees are charged with doing a lot of different tasks. So, I ask you, what's your top priority? And what would happen if you focused your time, energy and resources on that single most important thing? (read more)

10 Essential Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards
Did you know that "Board" and "Board Members" are not interchangeable terms? The board is the collective group of individual board members. Individuals have responsibilities, just as the group has responsibilities. Every nonprofit board, as the governing body of the nonprofit, has 10 fundamental responsibilities. Do your individual board members understand what the board is charged with? (read more)

21 Tips for Your Year-End Fundraising Appeal
When it comes to fundraising, what do you need to know? First, abandon the idea of a single "annual appeal." Asking for money is no longer a once-a-year activity. In fact, donors expect you to ask more often (and they respond when you do!), so don't wait until this time next year to ask again. Second, the primary focus of your appeal should be to keep your current donors – not attract new ones. Lastly, here are 21 tips and tricks to a better appeal, every time. (read more)

Before You Start Planning Your Next Fundraising Campaign
So, you want to raise money. A lot of money. But you don't know where to start. Well, you're not alone. Here's the good news. You can raise more money. But first, you need a plan. A recently released study of small nonprofits (less than $2 million budgets) found that, when it comes to fundraising results, "the ONLY thing that matters is whether your organization has a fundraising plan." Okay. So, where do you begin? (read more)