Why I Marched for Your Mission

march herA young dad, my nephew, posted a question on Facebook. He asked what the Women’s March was about.

Why are they marching?

I think he sincerely wanted to know. The comments came fast and furious and some were real eye openers to me.

But the post got me thinking, why did millions march? I know why I marched but I was struck by the wide range of issues represented by the signs women (and men) carried in the marches.

Then it hit me: the concerns on those signs looked like a list of nonprofit causes.

Nonprofits exist to protect the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, children, the elderly and the disabled. Their missions may march 5be help regardless, or because, of sexual orientation, country of origin or religion.

Nonprofits work for safe cities, social justice, equal pay for equal work. They protect the environment and address climate change.

Organizations strive to improve public education for all citizens, including children, college students and immigrants.

Our American nonprofits promote affordable healthcare and access to services; they even provide medical services.

Many of you work to make the arts accessible to all and to support artists. You preserve our history, protect our free speech and provide a voice to the voiceless.

Plus the many organizations for girls and women help to nurture us, educate us, develop our skills, protect our rights and our bodies and help us become strong leaders.

Yes, those signs read like a list of nonprofit causes and concerns.

But why do we march?

Maybe we march bmarch photo 1ecause every once in a while, we need to join with like-minded citizens to remind ourselves and governing bodies that our opinions matter.

Or we march to let it be known that we care about these issues. That we feel vulnerable and want to be heard. And to join hands around the world to show our numbers.

Many of the comments on my nephew’s Facebook post sounded angry. Not everyone agrees on the issues or the act of marching. He quickly took the post down.march 3

As for me, I feel stronger knowing women in London, Rome, Sydney, Antarctica as well as Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and dozens of other cities, joined me.

As a Champion of Nonprofits, the Women’s March was also a reminder that supporting each other’s visions makes us stronger. After all, most nonprofits are working towards the same goal: to make life better.

I’m going to try to keep the spirit of the March with me all year long. I hope you will too!

Discover Story: An Amazing (Free) Fundraising Tool You Can Use Today

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Sharing your story is a powerful way to get more of what you want and need. Great leaders use stories to move people.

I’m a giver. Like lots of you in the nonprofit world, I find it easier to give than get.

I was your typical board member who said I’ll do anything but ask for money.

How could I ask for money when it’s so natural for me to want to help people, not ask them for something? Fundraising wasn’t for me.

But storytelling changed all that…

Several years ago I discovered the amazing results of sharing my story. By following the example of the best fundraisers I knew, I began to tell my story – sharing my passion for my cause. As a result I raised millions.

At that point I didn’t understand why story was so powerful. So I started to ask questions, I did the research and I learned a lot about the power of story.

It was an exciting journey for me because I could see the potential for you. Let’s dig in and learn why storytelling is so powerful so you can start using it today.

Why stories?

why

Stories are the key to engaging audiences and getting them to do just what you want, including making a donation.

Stories have always been a way to pass on information – think of cave drawings or the Bible. But stories also entertain and inspire.

Most news stories start with a profile of one person, someone we can picture and care about; that’s what compels us to keep reading or listening. Stories are an emotional trigger.

Here’s an example from today’s New York Times:

As Population Ages, Where Are the Geriatricians?

ruth milesRuth Miles, 83, sat in a wheelchair in a small exam room, clutching a water bottle, looking frightened and uncomfortable.
She was submitting to the tender scrutiny of Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, who scooted her stool so close that she was knee to knee with her patient.
Ms. Miles had broken her pelvis after tripping on an electric cord in her apartment. The weeks since then had been hellish…

What’s going on here? If this article had started with facts and figures about the shortage of doctors specializing in treating the elderly we wouldn’t have read it. But there’s a picture of an old lady who looks a bit like your grandma, so you read her story.

Chances are you will read more of the article. Suddenly an issue you weren’t even aware of becomes something you care about. Because of the story of Ruth Miles and her broken hip.

The science behind this is explained in the book, The Storytelling Animal. When electrodes were implanted in monkeys’ brains, researchers could see the brain light up when a monkey grabbed a nut – and the monkey’s brain reacted the same way when he saw another monkey grab a nut!

So, this is what happens to us. When you watch a TV show, you get emotionally involved. Your brain lights up, you’re hooked on somebody else’s story.

That’s empathy and it’s what you want and get when someone hears your story.

Telling your story can be hard, it is easier to tell someone else’s story (and you will want to do that too). But your own story has a special power.

Your story reflects your passion for your organization and its vision. When you think of a great nonprofit founder, politician or religious leader, you see how a personal story has the power to move people.

Like a great leader, you want to tell your story over and over again. You’ll get better at telling it and more people will be moved enough to retell your story, to care about your organization and to make a contribution.

Now we know that your story has the power to make people care. Caring is the first step, because the truth is, if you don’t care you don’t really listen.

Once your audience cares they are ready to hear what you have to say. That’s just where you want ‘em!

How emotion raises money

Now that you see how emotion leads to caring, let’s explore how caring leads to donating.

Traditionally, fundraisers thought it took a lot of information to get someone to write us a check. After all, making decisions about who you donate to seems like a totally logic choice.

But, that’s not what the research says. It turns out that we don’t really have that much control over our choices.

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Surprise! Decisions are based on emotions, not on logic. This is the key to getting what we want, appeal to their emotions.

According to brain scientists, most of the time we make unconscious decisions, based on emotions – then we rationalize our choices! When we say things like “I just feel it in my gut” or “Something tells me…” we are expressing the emotional choice we already made.

When I discovered this it made me think of all the bad purchases I have made based on emotion. But, fortunately, it also causes me to make some very good choices – like donating!

Here’s another way to look at it:

  • You know there are 30,000 people in Asia effected by an earthquake. You hear an appeal on TV asking you to make a donation. Maybe you send a small amount, probably not.
  • On the same day there is a house fire in your town. A family of 4 and their 2 dogs are homeless. A neighbor starts a fund to help this family and asks for your donation. You probably make a generous donation.

Where is the greater need? It doesn’t matter. One appeal is very personal and close to home, the other is distant and harder to relate to.

You are more emotionally moved by something you can relate to so you want to help.

All this “gut reaction” is happening in the limbic system of our brains, that’s the center of emotions, motivation and decisions.

So, how cool is that for your fundraising!

Putting the discovery into action

Let’s say you have a roomful of people who came to learn about your organization. You start by telling them your story. They’re all ears. You move the emotions up a notch by sharing a video or by having a client give a testimonial. Then you ask them for something.

They are so ready!

You’ve barely mentioned measurements or outcomes. (Of course, you still need those to support your case and empower your delivery.)

Emotions come first and emotions drive decisions!

The folks who make TV commercials understand how brains work. A romantic story is able to sell drugs despite the fact the commercial ends with a long list of possible negative reactions – including death!

If drug companies can romanticize a pill, you can make your story emotional. It doesn’t take babies or puppies. I get weepy about a history museum I love, somebody else might be moved by art or science.

As a nonprofit leader you can and should create opportunities to share your story. Like any good story it will be retold by many who hear it.

When your story is retold, you gain more exposure, more people who care and more of what you need. (Read How to Tell Your Story to learn more).

Cha-ching! You’re raising more money!

 

Merle Benny-NPC

Merle Benny wants to hear your story!  Her blog, Nonprofit Champion, is a resource for fast track nonprofit leaders.  She’s smart, creative and driven to help organizations reach their vision.  As a partner at Thinc. she has provided marketing and branding services to nonprofit organizations and managed events that raised millions of dollars to support their work.

How to Tell a Story

fairytaleFairy tales runs through the ages.  Amazingly we all know the basic plot of a number of old children’s stories.  So it’s no surprise that they follow a simple format.  It turns out that we can keep things really simple and use this structure for all our stories:

Once upon a time…unfortunately…thankfully…happily ever after

Think of every short story, book, song, movie and sitcom you know,  they probably follow this format.  A book or movie may repeat the formula over and over.  On Seinfeld each of the characters went through their own story in each episode.   Keep this simple format in mind as you craft your story.

Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every home in the village. Her nakedness frightened people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable took her home, dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again on the villagers’ doors and was readily welcomed into their homes. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself at their fires.                             — Jewish Teaching Story

I like this for a couple reasons – one, it’s a reminder that stories are old, they’ve been around forever and are used to pass information through the ages.  It is also a great reminder of how people hear you – tell them a story and they will listen and care.  Warm up your facts with story!

Getting Personal

I made a choice to work for a major corporation.  I was single mom worried about how I was going to support my daughter, Joy.  Leaving the nonprofit world seemed like the right thing to do.  In many ways it was.  I learned a lot, I was successful and I gave Joy the opportunities that I dreamed she should have.  As challenging as my work at Mc-Graw and AIG was I never stopped wanting to work with nonprofit organizations.  I was an active volunteer and became a fundraiser (once I learned the secret!).  Eventually I started my own marketing business, married my business partner (because he was so creative and made me laugh).  Although we worked with many technology companies, I started my “side business” working with nonprofits.  It was only a matter of time before I turned all my attention to these organizations.  Happy at last!  I love helping nonprofits tell their story, raise money and fulfill their vision.

I tell you my story because I want you to learn to tell yours.  There is nothing more engaging and moving than a personal story.  Look hard at your life and find the thread that leads to your work.  Why do you have such a passion for your vision and your organization?

Your Founder’s Story

Founders have great stories!  When someone cares enough about a cause to start an organization, they have a story to tell.  A favorite of mine is Juliette Low.  As a Brownie I learned how she had traveled to England, heard about the Boy Scouts and decided to come back to the USA to start an organization for girls!  That story has always stuck with me an inspired me.  Founders are the perfect example of taking Passion and Vision and creating something great.

Gathering Stories

You have Your Story, you have your Founder’s Story, now you are ready to collect other stories.  You want to be a story-gathering organization. Make it part of your work, a system, that encourages everyone to be on the lookout for stories.  One organization has each employee write up their “Miracle of the Month.”  Don’t wait for big, breaking news instead look for little victories.  Many great stories come from your service recipients or program participants but you’ll find them everywhere.  They don’t all have to be heartbreaking or the ultimate success.  If they interest you, they’ll interest others.  Make it easy for staff and volunteers to gather stories!

 

Here’s a picture of me (on the left) and my sisters in our Girl Scout uniforms!bennygirls

 

Merle Benny-NPCMerle Benny wants to hear your story!  Her blog, Nonprofit Champion, is a resource for fast track nonprofit leaders.  She’s smart, creative and driven to help organizations reach their vision.  As a partner at Thinc. she has provided marketing and branding services to nonprofit organizations and managed events that raised millions of dollars to support their work.

 

10 Steps to Your Best Fundraising Story

Nonprofits have gotten really good with numbers.  I don’t know about you but when I hear a lot of facts and figures my mind starts to wander.  My eyes glaze over and, despite my best efforts, I can’t retain much.

And forget about being able to tell someone else the great numbers I heard.

fairy-303762_640But tell me a good story and I’m all ears!  I’ll repeat your story and it will become my story.

Stories stick.

It’s human nature for us to remember and repeat a good story.  Think of fairy tales, they’ve been told for hundreds of years, yet there’s a new version of Cinderella out in the theaters right now!

As a nonprofit leader you need to find more and more people who care about your organization.  They will be your volunteers, advocates and donors.  Those relationships begin with a story (share those great numbers after you’ve won their hearts).

Becoming a good storyteller is your key to engaging more people.

Stories inspire caring and caring leads to giving. Follow these steps to create stories that move others to care about you and your vision.  With a little practice great storytelling will come naturally.

        1. Explore your passion. The more you understand why you care about your work the easier it becomes to share it.  Consider people, events and circumstances throughout your life that shaped your values and brought you to do the work you do.
        2. Get personal. Emotions are a natural part of a personal story – but you don’t need to fake tears!  When it’s real and personal everybody gets the emotion – the humor, the joy and the sadness or fear you’ve experienced.   It’s those emotions that make us remember.
        3. Connect your story to the story of your organization. Explore both the present and the history. Know the founder’s story; most organizations started in response to a great need at that point in time.  How has that changed and grown?  Try to deconstruct your Vision statement to get right to the heart of WHY your organization exists – that’s what stays consistent and it’s what engages people!  (Save the “What you do” and “How you do it” for later when they already love you.)
        4. Tell your own fairy tales. Fairy tales – and most other stories in books, movies and TV – follow a simple formula.  It goes like this:

          Once upon a time…Unfortunately…Thankfully…Happily ever after

          We naturally follow the emotional ups and downs of a story.  Invariably, something goes wrong and along comes a hero (your organization?) to solve the problem.

        5. Know what you want. What does “Happily ever after…” look like for your organization?  Knowing this helps you choose the best story and the right message.  When you reach the end it should be clear WHY your organization exists.  The emotional brains will kick in and they’ll be ready to follow you (and maybe even listen to the numbers).
        6. Paint a picture. Your story should include enough details to make it easy to visualize.  Names, ages, places and other easy-to-grasp details like weather help to make your story engaging.
        7. Keep it simple. A great story is easy to follow.  Side stories add confusion instead of painting the picture.  Think of it as pulling a single thread that is running through a rich tapestry of stories.  Often repeated stories of heroism, redemption or innovation become streamlined, that makes them more compelling and easier to repeat.  You can see this in a movie that focuses on one aspect of a person’s life.
        8. Repeat. Great storytellers repeat their story.  You’ll get better at telling it as you go.  And, believe it or not, people want to hear your story!
        9. Gather stories. Now you are ready to spot other great stories in your organization.  Ask others to tell their story, then listen carefully, you’ll hear stories that you can use and share.
        10. Create sharing opportunities. Adapt your story to social media, video and your website.  Create Story Hours; invite people to come and get to know you and learn about your organization and why it exists.

Merle Benny-NPCMerle Benny wants to hear your story!  Her blog, Nonprofit Champion, is a resource for fast track nonprofit leaders.  She’s smart, creative and driven to help organizations reach their vision.  As a partner at Thinc. she has provided marketing and branding services to nonprofit organizations and managed events that raised millions of dollars to support their work.

Don’t Make This Mistake… and leave money on the table

Money-on-the-TableIt happened again!  I volunteered for three hours.  Nobody asked me to, I went online, found the project and signed up.  All I had to do was go to a neighboring town and read to children.

Can’t beat that.

Here’s the bad news:  I haven’t heard from the organization since.  Not a “thank you” not a “how was it?” and certainly not a “what else would you like to do?”

They had me!  I was a hot prospect – interested, concerned, emotionally moved. But they forgot about me.

Why does this happen?  Events are excellent chances to show off your stuff, get people to listen and then – this is important – give them the next steps. Yet many times organizations ignore the people who have already taken the first step.

If you are making this mistake you are leaving money on the table!

Last spring I went to two galas in one week (really!).  The tickets were expensive.  Then there’s the cost of new clothes etc.  I made a real investment in those two organizations. But they forgot about me!  Really, all I ever got was a letter for tax purposes (OK, I’ll give one of them a little credit for writing a note on the letter).

Take a fresh look at your events.

  • Decide right at the start what you expect from people as a result.
  • If they are at Point A, how will you get them to Point B?
  • What will you say?
  • What additional opportunities will you offer?
  • How will you make it easy for them to tell their friends?

This year, instead of putting extra effort into the silent auction or goody bags, work on cultivating your guests and volunteers.  If they care enough to come, it’s your job to inspire them.

Make sure they hear about your vision, make sure you inspire them. Know what you need from them. Make it easy for them to take the next step.  Invite them for a tour or Story Hour, call them up and listen to what they have to say.

Don’t waste the chance to make them yours.

 

Merle Benny-NPCMerle Benny creates Nonprofit Champions.  She’s smart, creative and driven to nonprofit leaders grow.  She has provided  marketing and branding services to nonprofit organizations and managed events that raised millions of dollars to support their work.

 

Your Story: Discover What Inspires You

 storybook

I love a good story! 

I’m looking out at the ice and snow, sipping on a hot cup of cocoa sending you this important post.  I hope it will inspire you to tell me your story…

Your most powerful message is your own story.  But for most people that’s the hardest story to tell.

When I do Story Workshops I ask people to think about the events in their life that inspired their work. At first I get some boring stories!  They usually go something like this: “I’ve been really fortunate all my life so I want to help others who aren’t so lucky.” 

Are you inspired?  Neither am I, it’s a sleeper and it doesn’t begin to tell who you are or why I should care about you, let alone your cause or organization.

A True Story

Rosie came to a recent Workshop – this one was for women who had made significant donations to the organization.  She told us she is a successful business woman, happily married and an elected politician.  Her life does look “fortunate.”

But…later in the Workshop, she was inspired to share more.

As a young, single mom, I accepted food stamps in order to feed my family…I was denied welfare because I had $2000 in savings. I struggled for years. I know how it feels and how hard it can be.

Now were we interested in her story?  You betcha. Rosie – and everyone in the room – now understood her passion for her community and her eagerness to be a mentor to young women.

Every day you have opportunities to tell our own story.

You, or Rosie, don’t need to air your dirty laundry, but you do need to fully understand the events of your own life and how they impact your work, passion and drive.  She hadn’t connected the dots before.

When you speak from personal experience your sincerity will be clear to anyone you hears you. They will believe what you believe (that’s the first step to getting them to care, and then to take action). 

Once you learn to tell your own story, you’ll do a better job of recognizing and telling other’s stories. 

Why stories?

Stories are engaging.  They are memorable.  People naturally listen to stories.  Whether you are gathered around the campfire or at a networking event, a good storyteller gets attention.

Start to explore your own story. Write down 3 life events that have impacted you significantly.

1.

2.

3.

You may be like my friend Mary, she can easily point to THE event that drives her work.  Mary’s father died when she was 14.  She is the founder of two children’s grief organizations.   If your’s isn’t that clear, spend some time thinking about the stories from your family. I grew up hearing about my mother’s family being evicted during the Great Depression and later I spent many years volunteering with homeless families.

What events in childhood, your vulnerable teen years, or early adulthood, or recent past had a great – positive or negative – impact on everything that came since?

Spend the next few days thinking about these.  Choose one that clearly illustrates your values and the choices you have made since that time.  Think about how you might use this life- event to tell a story of your work that would inspire others to care – and give.

Wishing you warm hugs, a cup of cocoa and a good story!

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Telling Your Story, Getting Results

imagesCA2HMZUMI read the New York Times obituaries.  They are wonderful little stories of people’s lives, generally famous people.  Luckily for them, they had the opportunity to tell their story before they died.  Not to be morbid, but I want you to do that to!

You have a wonderful, unique story.  Happily for the universe you have chosen to work with a nonprofit organization.  We all benefit because you, and other Nonprofit Champions, devote your energy and talent to bettering the world.

Make your stories memorable and inspirational.   A memorable story alters the listener’s perspective and is retold often.  An inspirational story is emotional and moves the listener to take action.

These are just the stories you need to build your network of friends and donors.  Your Million Dollar Story starts with you crafting your story.  It’s first and it’s the most important.  Your story has the power to move people to action.
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Our goal is to help you develop Your Story and get people to:
1. Pay attention to what you have to say
2. Understand and remember the point you are making
3. Agree with you and believe in what you value
4. Care about what you care about
5. Take the action that you want them to take

You have many stories. Your life experience is full of your own stories plus you have read and heard others that impacted your life and choices.  Your Million Dollar Story is designed to help you create a story that sticks with your audience. You’ll build a story that calls on others to care and take action.

We created Your Million Dollar Story because we want to put you on the fast track to your Vision.  It’s a step-by-step process, we’re right there with you while you craft your story, identify funders, deliver your message and raise the funds to fulfill your vision.

Download the free e-book to get started today.  Follow the 5 steps and you’ll be creating your own Million Dollar Story. 

Merle Benny is the Founder of Nonprofit Champion, a resource for fast track nonprofit leaders and the creator of Your Million Dollar Story.  While building a successful career at Mc-Graw Hill and AIG, Merle was on a personal quest to understand how to help nonprofits grow and prosper.  As a volunteer she learned to market and fundraise, raising millions for organizations.  Partnering with Joe Landi, a branding expert and Duncan Pettigrew, a videographer, they created a system for all nonprofits to grow and raise more money.  The result is Your Million Dollar Story.

What I’m Reading: Made To Stick

I have always thought of my birthday as time to wear a winter coat.  When I was a girl, wearing my new coat for the first time was exciting.  I remember a blue one with a “fur” color.  Oh how I loved the feel of it!
madetostick 
Well today’s my birthday but rather than put on a coat I am content to curl up with a good book.  I can’t quite call Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die a page turner but it is a great read.  I highly recommend it. 

I’m reading it because of my interest in storytelling and how it can help you grow and prosper.  When you find a way to make your story sticky you have the key to successful fundraising. 

I can’t wait to share some of the great lessons from this book with you in the weeks ahead.  If you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear how it influenced your work – and your story.

Stay warm and enjoy your day.

PS  You might want to take a look at Made To Stick: eSpresso Summary.  You can download it for $4.99.

10 Steps to…More Money From Fundraising Letters

“Thank you.  I could not be here without your help.  I never thought my dreams would come true, but here I am!”  I am happy to share this note with you today.  Jeremy Jones, a proud Rutgers University freshmen, sent it to thank us – and you – for making it possible for him to go off to school prepared to succeed.

That’s an actual example of a fundraising letter I got in the mail.  A great opening is the first step in writing a letter that gets results.  But there’s more…read on to learn how to create fundraising letters to generate significant income for your organization.

Even though we have constant access to email and text messages we still check to see what the mailman brings each day.  Whether you send your appeals via email, mail or a combination of the two, you can improve the results.  

Here are my 10 Steps to a great letter campaign…

        1. Write a draft. Don’t think yet about the opening or the “ask.”  Just write a letter from your heart.  Use friendly, informal language, your goal is to connect with the receiver.  Use names and stories to make an emotional connection.  Share your dreams.  You are appealing to the heart, that’s how you will get people to care and to donate.  And remember…
          mantra
        2. Follow the rules.   There have been many, many tests done to show what gets the best results in direct mail.  The overwhelming winner is a long letter.  Fight the urge to keep it short, long works (more than one page).  But, the paragraphs should be short.
        3. Grab their attention.   Start with an attention grabbing device.  It might be a quote, a short personal story, an amazing fact, a heart-breaking statistic.  The type could be larger and bold or italic.  It should quickly draw your readers in and make them want to read.  If you use a picture, place it further down on the page.   If you are sending via email, check out 10 Steps to Powerful Emails
        4. Ask for the money.   While it is true that the recipient may not read every word, he/she will generally read the beginning and the end.  Near the end of the letter make your pitch.  State clearly what the need is and how the reader can help.  Suggest a dollar amount.  Let donors know that $500 will provide a special program for your daycare center, while $250 will provide safety equipment for the playground.  This can be stated in the letter and repeated on the remittance envelope (donation form, online).  Make it clear and easy to take action.   And remember – do not send an appeal asking for $100 to your $20,000 a year donor!  
        5. The envelope please. A remittance envelope is important.  Make sure it is easy to use and ready to go, postage free or pre-stamped.  The email equivalent is a direct link to your site’s donation page that looks like a natural extension of the email/letter.
        6. Surprise them.  Insert something small, lightweight and relevant in the envelope of your appeal letter.  It could be brightly colored paper with a fact, a photo or an incentive.  Use what you have – I used wood shavings (and a related message) for a crafts museum with great results.  The next year I used sheep’s wool.  Lightweight, free and effective!
        7. Time Your Mailing.   November or early December is great for holiday and year-end giving (and tax breaks).  A series of mailings works even better. 
        8. Mail Your Letter.  Keep that database in shape so you can easily print out personalized letters or send emails.  First class mail will speed up delivery and the stamp will improve the chances of it being opened.  A printed or hand written address, rather than a label, is time consuming but may pay off.  Email should be personalized.  
        9. Measure to Improve.  Keep track of the responses.  You might even try a test with two different appeals, this is easy to do and worthwhile.  If you mail a series you’ll want to know which one got the best results.  Don’t ignore this step!
        10. Make Friends.  Continually making friends is everyone’s job.  All year long add new connections.  Meet someone new; add them to your list! 

P.S.  Everybody reads the P.S.  And if there’s also a P.P.S., they’ll read that too.  Remind them of the urgency of your appeal and offer an incentive.  While they are there, they’ll read the signature so hand-sign it whenever possible.

Send me your fundraising appeal.  I’d be happy to review it for you!

NEED HELP WRITING YOUR ANNUAL APPEAL?  Check out my special offer for a limited time only.

Merle Benny is the Founder of Nonprofit Champion, a resource for fast track nonprofit leaders and the creator of Your Million Dollar Story. While building a successful career at Mc-Graw Hill and AIG, Merle was on a personal quest to understand how to help nonprofits grow and prosper. As a volunteer she learned to market and fundraise, raising millions for organizations. Partnering with Joe Landi, a branding expert and Duncan Pettigrew, a videographer, they created a system for all nonprofits to grow and raise more money. The result is Your Million Dollar Story.

Champion Word of the Week

ASK: make a request

Tip: To be asked is an honor!  It really is, think of all the times someone has asked you to help out or give advice or be with them – you were honored. Give others the same good feeling by asking them to join you.  Be direct; let them know what you want and you’ll usually get it.  And you’ll survive!  This counts even when asking for money but if you involve people in your work they’ll give generously without you asking. Go for it!

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