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Hey there,

According to research, younger users now consider GIF images to be “boomer” and “cringe.” So, on behalf of all boomers everywhere, I’d like to start this email with this message:


In that spirit, let me start this newsletter by starting a little classic rock rolling around in your brain!


It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll

by Dave Kirby dave@vidarecreative.com

Yes, that’s an AC/DC song. And yes, it’s one of the few rock songs with an awesome bagpipe solo. In it, the band recounts the many obstacles you have to overcome to hit it big. There are no “overnight successes.”

Ridin' down the highway

Goin' to a show

Stoppin' on the byways

Playin' rock 'n' roll


Gettin' robbed, gettin' stoned.

Gettin' beat up, broken boned.

Getting had, getting took

I tell you, folks, it's harder than it looks.

What does this have to do with fundraising?

Hopefully, the analogy is evident to you. Fundraising is hard. There is no formula for overnight or instant success. It takes ingenuity, sincerity, and tenacity. It’s both an art and a science. It’s gut, and it’s data. Sometimes it’s a carrot, and sometimes it’s a stick (or at least a gentle nudge.)

While nothing makes it easy, here are three suggestions for acquiring and retaining more donors:

Keep the donors you already have

These are the foundation of your organization. And there’s something in the Bible about building on an unstable foundation.

Engage them regularly. Thank them often. Treat them like you genuinely appreciate them, and don’t take them for granted.

Shameless commercial: Vidare Creative has developed the Fundraising 365 Toolkit to help you connect with your donors. It’s an annual calendar, email copy, welcome series, and more. If you are interested, visit our website.

Get your data figured out

It’s important to talk to our donors like individuals. They are not a “group”; they are people. But you can’t communicate with them if you don’t know who they are. 

Different segments speak different languages. So make sure you have them segmented properly and that your communications talks to them in a way that resonates with them.

Beyond that, what are you doing to reengage lapsed donors? What’s your strategy to get a second gift or convert those single donors into monthly givers?

Identifying who they are, where they came from, and how they give are all essential questions to ask as you look to engage them through their journey.

Be sincere

When thanking your donors, don’t use it as a pretense to ask them for another gift. Just thank them. People can see right through your “my, you look nice today” approach. Just thank them, invest in them, and love on them without ulterior motives.

And when you do ask, don’t hint around. Be abundantly clear about what you’re asking them to do. And lean on the power of urgency. Include a suggested amount, goal, and deadline in every direct mail piece, email, or any other appeal.

We’re looking for [number] of people to give [amount] by [deadline].” And use an incentive if you can. “Everyone who gives [amount] will be entered into a drawing for [prize]” or gets a T-shirt or something. 

Remember, thank them profusely and ask them directly. Just do it separately.

And as an old friend used to tell me, “If it was easy, everybody’d be doin’ it.”

Links will direct to sites not affiliated with Vidare Creative

Non-Profit Pro lines out 7 ways giving will look different in the next generation. My 2 key takeaways: Digital will increase, and micro-campaigns will become a thing. I’ve thought about that for a while.

I know this article is focused on Linkedin In-Mail, but the principles from the company Lavender stand true after studying millions of emails every month.

Next/After does some great fundraising research. This is a great article on retention data. TL;DR … a multichannel approach to retention is essential.

Fundraising 23: check out our speakers at fundraising23.com!

We are grateful and excited to have a guest post this month from our friend BJ O’Neal, the SVP of Development Projects at Hope Media Group. BJ is available to help your organizational leadership grow and shine. Just contact him at the email below.

3 Ways to Inspire Others As a Leader

by B.J. O’Neal bj@bjoneal.com

I was talking to a friend the other day, and we discussed a challenging situation with a member of his team. He told me this individual wasn't happy about doing a set of tasks in their role. 

I was curious and asked, "Did you tell them to do it?" He replied, "Of course, I told them to do it." 

The problem is that "telling" someone to do something without explaining and inspiring them can make all the difference in the world. This is the difference between "Management" and "Leadership." 

In my experience, many people with job titles who supervise others automatically see themselves as leaders. Just because you manage doesn't mean you lead. 

Here's the difference between management and leadership:

Management - You do it because I told you to do it.

Leadership - You do it because you were inspired to do it.

If you want your team to thrive, you have to inspire them in a way that gets them excited about doing even the most ordinary mundane tasks. If you just "tell" them, why wouldn't you get eye rolls and ho-hum attitudes? 

Inspiring others should be one of your daily objectives as a leader. Here are three ways to motivate your team through inspiration: 

  1. Make it a daily habit. You've probably heard the saying, "what get's scheduled gets achieved." You must put "inspiring others" on your calendar and task list to know it's a priority and follow it daily. 
  2. Explain the why, and invite your team to participate in the why. Don't just say, "this is WHY we are doing this," but invite them to help create the why wherever you can. 
  3. Make room for those who ask more questions about the why. They may have feedback that you, as a leader, need to hear. 

You've probably heard the story of the janitor who worked at Nasa. When asked what he did there, he said, "I'm helping put a man on the moon!" Wow! Talk about inspiration! Someone inspired and motivated him to understand how his role fits into the big picture. 

He didn't see himself as someone who took out the trash, cleaned toilets, etc. He understood that everyone valued his role & tasks, and that they were necessary. He understood his role and took ownership. 

My encouragement to you is this: inspiring others is a lifelong journey. You don't "arrive there." It's an activity you do every day as a leader that you know makes a significant difference in the lives of others. 

Don't forget that even the most minor investment in others can make a life-long impact that can stick with them forever. So make an effort to lead and guide your team through transformational inspiration. 

Thanks for reading!

I’ll close this edition of the newsletter like it started…complaining about that crazy Gen Z. Research also shows that Gen Z considers the Thumbs Up emoji to be “hostile” or passive-aggressive. 

And as the grumpy old man I am, I’m asking you to please hit the reply button with a big giant 👍🏻 if you enjoyed this issue.

Don’t worry, I can take it!



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