Rainmaker, I want to share with you something I shared earlier today with a private Facebook group I’m in…
You may or may not know — depending on how long you’ve been reading — that I’ve got an itch I haven’t been able to scratch involving fundraising for nonprofits.
I found out a few years ago that even though nonprofits are probably the most skilled direct marketers using the mail… They’ve utterly failed to translate that ability to doing online fundraising.
I’ve back-burnered this idea for a few years, but it keeps calling for attention.
And so now I’m looking to do something about it.
In working on it, I’ve called it a revolution. I’ve called it a movement.
Then Alex Charfen, in his Entrepreneurial Personality Type Facebook group, posted a 5-Part Video Series on “How To Start A Movement.”
He was using the same language. He was echoing my thoughts, and giving me a framework.
The timing was perfect, so I used his outline to write the post I’m sharing below.
Whether or not “fundraising for nonprofits” seems relevant to you, I encourage you to read the full post below. I believe it’s going to be my first billion-dollar impact. But only if I’m able to succeed in moving beyond “a business” and into “a movement.” Read for that distinction, if nothing else.
The Fundraising Funnels Movement: A Definition and Declaration
I’m starting a total revolution in how nonprofits do online fundraising. By defining a model fundraisers will use to generate over $1 billion in additional online revenue to support their mission.
This post is 100% inspired by Alex’s video series on starting a movement.
This is the movement I’ve been working incessantly on in my spare time, clarified with the help of Alex’s thinking.
A couple years back, I had a disturbing realization.
Nonprofit direct response fundraisers are incredibly successful at raising funds to support their mission via DIRECT MAIL.
Yet they still haven’t figured out how to get the INTERNET to work as a direct response medium for fundraising.
Yes, they’ve had some success, but THERE IS NO CLEAR MODEL. Total online fundraising is STILL less than 10% of total donations (and of that, much of it is generated as an online response to direct mail solicitation).
What’s disturbing about this is that over the last decade, I’ve worked with the upper echelons of commercial direct marketing. Companies who’ve been hugely successful transitioning their direct mail know-how into online marketing results. Creating a model for what works in direct response online, as an adaptation of their direct mail methods.
The model for success already exists. Nonprofits just aren’t using it!
Simple example: the online sales letter.
Direct response marketers figured out 15+ years ago they could put their direct mail sales letters online. Nonprofits, whose direct mail appeal letters are the workhorse of fundraising, haven’t tried putting those appeal letters online.
I’ve talked to the top fundraising copywriters in the world — they haven’t even tried it!
More examples: video sales letters, funnels (where I got the name Fundraising Funnels), direct response email, the list goes on…
This has nagged me for the last couple years, while I’ve kept doing what I was doing before, being a successful copywriter and consultant for commercial direct response marketers.
Part of that was momentum — it’s painful to switch from where you have some, to where you have none.
Another part was doubt — my friends in commercial direct marketing (understandably) think of the nonprofit world as somewhat backwards and resistant to change, which they assumed spelled doom for the idea.
And another part was failure to spur action — I did connect with a noble charity who I would have loved to have helped, but they were self-funded and not doing any fundraising yet, which made getting momentum difficult and nothing ended up happening.
But the pressure finally became too much. And so over the last few weeks I’ve been taking MASSIVE action to build the foundation for this movement.
So… What I’m going to do here is use Alex’s videos to outline what I’m doing.
(By the way, I did ask Alex if I could share this here, and he said, “That would be awesome.”)
Choose a contingency you care about…
Nonprofits. I’m actually somewhat agnostic about the mission. While I have lines I won’t cross, I want to work with PEOPLE WHO ARE ON A MISSION TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, by their definition. And I don’t care if you’re liberal, conservative, whatever. (I am vast, I contain multitudes.)
I just want to help people who are focused on DOING GOOD to also do well enough that they have ample resources to drive their mission forward.
Define and unify your contingency…
Specifically, I’m looking to work with nonprofits and their fundraising teams who are ALREADY USING DIRECT RESPONSE to successfully generate donations via the mail.
I want this to benefit ALL nonprofits, but starting the revolution with folks who already know and use direct response makes the most sense. That way, I don’t have to teach direct response AND my model. I just have to share my model — how they can piggyback their current direct mail success to get more donors and donations online.
I have just signed up for the Who’s Mailing What! direct mail archive, that I can use to see the actual direct mail pieces nonprofits use. Along with at least names and sometimes contact info for the people at the organizations. I’m going to use this to hand-select organizations to reach out to as the earliest adopters.
Provide a plan…
I’ve put together a free 3-part video series (the first open to the world, the second and third available with opt-in), that explains my model in enough detail that they could go implement on their own — assuming some level of direct response experience. I also offer a free and no-obligation 30-minute consultation call where I can help them translate the recommendations in the videos into action and more online donations for their organization.
What’s unique about what I’m doing is that I show them how to convert their current direct mail fundraising expertise into more online donations.
Plus, how to apply both the proven principles and latest innovations of commercial direct marketers who’ve made this shift over the last 15+ years.
Advocate for your contingency…
I really, really want the first 10 success stories from fundraisers who try even one tiny part my recommendation and say, “We did it, and it really worked like Roy said!”
It will. I’m certain of it. It will just be much easier to rally the contingency around good ideas+success stories, rather than just the good ideas.
This movement needs to happen because the internet as a direct response medium has speed, scalability, and economic advantages over direct mail. It won’t replace it. But 10% of total donations is just an unacceptable number. Especially when you look at companies that used to be nearly 100% exclusively in direct mail, who are now generating 80%+ of revenue online (and a lot more total revenue).
And yet I haven’t been able to find ANYBODY who is doing anything even remotely close to what I recommend.
I believe the model is out there in the open, in the commercial direct response space. Being used by folks who — like fundraisers — came up in direct mail. The only difference is the commercial folks figured out how to get direct response to work using the medium of the internet, the fundraisers didn’t.
I am perfectly positioned — with skills, experience, connections, etc. — to be the bridge.
Defend contingency against attacks…
Two main points I am ready to fight for, although they may not be the biggest two after one year of application…
- The internet is a new medium, not a new game.
Web folks and direct mail folks don’t always work well together. A lot of web folks still hold the dot-com fallacy, that the internet is a brand new game, with brand new rules.
Ken McCarthy, probably THE first guru of internet direct response marketing, put it best when he called the internet “direct mail on glass.” It’s merely a new medium, NOT a brand new game. Are there differences? Yes. Does it change everything? No.
And yet, it’s not easy to convince the makers of pretty websites that ugly direct response should also be used online.
This was the single-biggest realization that brought direct mail marketers online en masse, and it needs to be shouted from the rooftops in the nonprofit sector. I’m prepared to advocate for and defend this, wherever necessary.
- The talent gap in nonprofit fundraising.
This is a bit controversial, but I believe this whole disparity is in part due to industry norms around compensation structures in fundraising.
In short, commercial direct marketers can pay royalties to great copywriters and innovative marketers. Nonprofit fundraising industry organizations forbid this.
So a copywriter is given a choice for whom they will write their next letter that generates $1 million in results. Do it for a for-profit company, get paid a $10,000 fee + $50,000 royalties, net $60,000. Do it for a non-profit, get paid a $10,000 fee, net $10,000.
Is it any wonder why many of the world’s best, most innovative, results-accountable marketers mostly steer clear of helping nonprofits?
How much more resources would nonprofits have to fulfill their noble missions if they were also willing to pay based on results?
Again, taking this position will put me at odds with the largest fundraising organizations out there. But in the context of all of this, I believe it’s a relevant and worthy hill to die on — it’s just scary.
My eyes were opened about this a couple years ago. I just didn’t do anything about it, besides write a couple short essays about it (I write a daily essay, writing an essay is no big thing to me), and emailing a few folks.
But it’s lingered.
It’s been the itch I couldn’t scratch. I have a few other itches I’d like to scratch. My current audience of copywriters and marketers, the ADHD market, music production. But this is the one that’s screaming to me.
Like I said at the outset, this is a billion-dollar impact, in terms of the additional funds I believe will be raised to support worthy causes.
And when it makes a billion-dollar impact, I think the second billion will come even faster.
This is a revolution that will completely reshape the face of online fundraising.
IF you’ve read this, you’re involved with a nonprofit who is already doing direct response fundraising, and you’re nodding your head, I’d love to hear from you. And yet, that’s not the intention of this post.
My intention is to first speak this movement, to make it real.
Alex helped me clarify it, so I asked if I could speak it here in the context of his model, to further clarify.
Thank you for reading.
I just wanted to share this because it’s reflective of what I consider to be some very important thinking I’m doing right now. Not just about fundraising for nonprofits, but how to have a bigger impact in what you do. How to create a bigger mission beyond just offering products or services for dollars.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets
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