By Sharon Danosky

     Diversity has been in our nonprofit vernacular for some time now. I see it in discussions in boardrooms all the time. Yet, I feel as if many nonprofits use it as a word without embracing it as a norm.

We think about diversity instead of being inclusive. One place where this is so apparent is in marketing materials. Having a picture depicting diverse populations is not being inclusive. If you are serious about tapping into diverse markets – it takes a lot more than an occasional picture and printing business cards in another language. Here are some suggestions: [Read more…]

Your 2020 Year-End Appeal Begins Today


Hooray – you just got through December and I hope everyone raised more money than they expected. Now it’s time to lay the foundation for your 2020 appeal.  No rest for the weary!

Like everyone, I received my fair share of appeals in December. Sadly, this was the only time I heard from many of these nonprofits all year. A few had sent me newsletters, which is good – but most didn’t tell me how they used my contribution. Only a few nonprofits kept me informed – telling me how my funds made a difference before asking me again. Those are the charities I supported. The rest – their appeals went in the wastebasket or were deleted.

So here’s my question to you: if the only time you hear from your charity is when they want money –how does that make you feel? Probably the same way I feel – And I won’t give again. Nor do most donors. That is one reason why retention rates among donors continue to plummet: 57% of donors do not renew their gifts. [Read more…]

Do You Know More Than Your Donors’ Names?

Pile of colorful paper notes with question marks and magnifying glass. Closeup.

By David Deschenes

It is the new year. This means a brand new period of looking forward and planning for success. I hope that 2020 brings you all that you ask for and more. But before we look forward, I’d like to take a quick look back.

This past December, like all Decembers, my mailbox was bending to capacity with mail. LOTS of mail. Holiday sale flyers that reminded me of the shopping I hadn’t done yet, holiday cards from friends and relatives that reminded me of the family card we didn’t do this year (again), and bills (oh, the bills). Then in equal number to all of the aforementioned pieces, there was an ever-present pile of year-end appeals from every organization known to man, woman and family pet. All addressed to me. David. But while they used my name, I felt that most didn’t really know me. It would impress me as a donor if any one of these organizations asked me directly. “Hey, David. What are your interests? What do you want to know?” [Read more…]

How Do You Say “Thank You”…

Thank You Thumb

By Sharon Danosky

Your appeal has been sent, and you’ve tallied Giving Tuesday. You are in the throes of ensuring that all the funds you could potentially raise before the end of the year are coming in. Great!

So while you are busy asking for money – have you given any thought to how you are thanking the people who gave to you. I’m sure everyone is sending out the perfunctory letter with the mandatory IRS disclaimer. Most of those are filed or even discarded as quickly as that junk mail they received. So, let me ask … How are you really thanking the people who give to you?

  • Will your donor truly know how much you appreciate their gift?
  • Will your donor understand the impact they are having?
  • Will you thank your donor in a way that is personal and meaningful?
  • Will you delight (and even surprise) your donor when you thank them?
  • Will your thanking them inspire them to make another gift – maybe even a larger gift?

The average nonprofit loses about 57% of their donors every year – half of the donors who give to an organization do not gift again. Why? I think it is because we do not communicate with them in a meaningful way or acknowledge the difference their gifts made.

In this season of giving, let us enhance our own abilities to give thanks in ways that inspire.

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Communications Assessments: Looking Within to Communicate Out

Communicating to a Group

By David Deschenes

“When you consider our limited staff and marketing budget, we put out a LOT of information – bi-annual fundraising letters, quarterly newsletters, flyers, and an annual report. We also send more than 30 e-blasts a year and have a robust presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s all important, timely and informative communications. But we’re struggling to keep up with it. We rely on other departments to get us at least the starting content for our collateral, and we often can’t get it when we need it. We feel like we’re always scrambling or trying to ‘wing it’ with content that’s owned by others.”

This was one of the primary concerns we heard at our first meeting with a new client who had hired us to conduct a communications assessment – a top-to-bottom audit of all current marketing and communications efforts in practice by the organization. [Read more…]