Mon, February 11 2013

Ask me a question: I’ll post the answer here

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fun stuff •

Many blog readers write me with questions about their work.  I try to answer what I can, and sometimes I get permission from the inquirer to share my answers here.  As an experiment in making this exercise useful to more people, I am inviting you to ask me a question.  I’ll answer it here on the blog.  There are just a few guidelines:

1. Make it sufficiently general that the answer will be of use to other people.

2. Only share things that you’re willing to have published on the blog.  If you want to be anonymous, for example, don’t share your name!

3. Post your question in the comments section of this post.  (If you subscribe via email, you’ll need to click on the title of this post, which will take you to the blog.  You can then enter a question under comments.  You can list an alias under the name if you prefer to remain unknown.)


  • Comment: (39)   


In your opinion, what is the best database software for non-profits (to catalogue donors)?
Thank you

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  05:00 AM

I have two board members that I like and want to keep as supporters, but clearly they don’t have the time or don’t make the time to be good board members.  Elections will be here soon, should I just call them and tell them that it appears they don’t have time for the board and ask them not to run or do you have a better idea?

Posted by Alias  on  02/11  at  05:08 AM

I’d like to create copy for the subject line for emails that will encourage people to open them.  Amazing Results .. Update .. News .. doesn’t seem to work well, especially when trying to reach potential donors.  The space is very limited so there’s no room for an explanation of what’s in the email.  Any suggestions?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  08:40 AM

As an Advocacy based non-profit, should we acknowledge or address negative and untrue comments about our organization and our positions. Some of the Board want to ignore the comments and others want to respond to the comments.

Posted by David Hart  on  02/11  at  08:50 AM

People are signing up for our mailing list online and sometimes we don’t even have a first name, just the email.  We don’t want to discourage sign-up with too many required fields and would rather spend time tracking down further contact info.  None of the email search engines out there are really “free”, so which one is worth the money to pay for the service?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  09:02 AM

I like to know what has prevented charities from capitalizing on the increasing internet shopping power to earn money for their case.  I know there are few websites out there that earn money for charities via charity malls, but it seems the idea is not catching on as fast as one would like…Is it the issue of trust, pulse shopping is so strong that people will not remember to a site before going to Ebay for example….

Posted by Imadanat  on  02/11  at  09:02 AM

Could you comment on the intersection between marketing and resource development?  How do they support each other?  How do they get in each other’s way?  Thanks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  09:10 AM

Can you provide a basic (simple) framework to create a fundraising plan (or resources to do so) - for a brand new nonprofit and their completely new to fundraising staff?  Thanks!

Posted by Beth  on  02/11  at  10:07 AM

Donation is a “product” not everyone wants to buy… (at all) Do you have 3 advices on how could we change people’s thought about donation…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  10:18 AM

As a communicator for nonprofits, in my paid, day job and for other volunteer jobs I do, I run across situations regularly in which other, non-communications staff don’t seem to want to let the communicators do the communications. There seems to be an attitude that because we all consume communications (use the web, watch TV, read newsletters, etc.) anyone, from a CEO to an accountant, can produce communications materials. Is this is matter of trust? Would a CEO try to tell the CFO to not use standard accounting principles to produce a regular financial report? Why is it that non-communicators want to throw standard communications principles out the window? I often feel that my only role is to implement what others have decided rather than being allowed to lead (with some input as appropriate) and being seen as an expert in an area. What techniques can you recommend to get others to work *with* me rather than telling me what to do or how to do my job in the way they, as a non-expert, think is best?

Posted by Stephen  on  02/11  at  10:20 AM

It was noted that 5% of donors stop giving because they “thought the charity did not need them.”  I’ve always understood that fundraising from a postion of “need” is not a good idea, thus we rarely if ever say we need the donor to contribute.  Instead, we’ll say the donor will “really make a difference”, will be investing in the community, will enable our work to proceed. But the reality is we need their financial support to make progress toward our mission.  So, is it a good strategy to express need in a solicitation and how might that be done?
Thank you.

Posted by Chris Maron  on  02/11  at  10:32 AM

The Edelman Good Purpose information is widely quoted ( yup, I cite it too). But this simply tells us there is acceptance for the merging of commerce and giving. Have you heard of any open loop marketing programs in the U.S. that create the sustainable structure for what Edelman is describing… mutual success between merchants and non-profits.

Posted by mike brooks  on  02/11  at  10:41 AM

As a unit PTA officer, I would like ideas for encouraging people to get positively involved in the active management of the non-profit.  I think I am looking for ideas for fun and engaging meetings, though maybe I misunderstand what will bring people in to management.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  10:46 AM

How can I convince my Executive Director to spend more time on development, when said ED’s love is program work (and program staff are fairly inexperienced so ED input is indeed needed there).

Think this is a typical problem, given the result study that showed than more than half of directors of development would like to quit.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  10:55 AM

As an organization with a mission that is a bit more abstract than, say, feeding hungry children or saving whales, we often struggle to make our work concrete. Are there any resources out there that are especially useful for organizations dedicated to civic engagement and/or research?

Posted by Deirdre Conner  on  02/11  at  11:16 AM

Why in this time of lower funding, do many organizations overlook the importance of a professionally manufactured donation box? This is an opportunity for the venue to convey its image, message and a thank you. For many visitors this is their only chance to respond to the value they have received. A donation box is a quick return on investment. Thank you, Larry Smith, President Surfix Inc. (

Posted by Larry Smith  on  02/11  at  11:17 AM

What are your suggestions for approaching corporations about giving to our non-profit? The ones with grants have specific request methods. Others give to charities, but it often seems sort of a random process, such as who has the ear of the president this week. What’s the best way to handle this?

Posted by Judy  on  02/11  at  11:31 AM

First of all, what Stephen said, times a million.

Up until recently, our mailed appeals (sent to our entire data base) have been very “story-focused” - we highlight real people and situations our donors have impacted positively. These appeals included lots of photos and were very emotion-driven. Our new development director is insisting the way to go is business-like “asks” on letterhead sent out to small segments of our database on a much less frequent basis.
Your thoughts?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  11:48 AM

How to write better Thank You letters to donors would be helpful.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  12:50 PM

Our outreach programs appeal to a diverse audience that frankly has little interest in our mission. Is it dishonest to omit our mission statement from marketing materials targeted to increase audience size? Our programming appeals to the general public; our mission is to help a narrower group (by building their audience!).

Posted by M. M.  on  02/11  at  01:14 PM

I’ve worked for nearly a decade, and never come across this situation! I was recently hired by a nonprofit, and the Board has sole approval power in the company. They are all (large) founder donors and so are extremely committed to the cause, but they all have day jobs, so they only sit once a week to make decisions that really need to be made day to day. Help!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  02:21 PM

A donor requested a proposal, agreed to a dollar amount after 3 excellent in-person conversations, and requested a specific letter of intent including the spouse and a specified timeline.  He was out of the office when I drove the proposal out to him, but I left him a voice mail that I had delivered as promised.

He has not returned any phone calls or emails since then - maybe 15 efforts - I have apologized for whatever I may have said/done; have asked people of confidence to obliquely check in with him—everything I can think of—with no response.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  02:39 PM

In your opinion, is grant funding opening up this year?  Advice on finding funders.

Thanks for your awesome blog!

Bobbi Hall

Posted by Bobbi Hall  on  02/11  at  02:59 PM

I have read your posts on the psychology of giving with great interest and I am wondering what thanking people on social media or in newsletters does to giving. For example, thanking a donor for donating winter coats (with a photo of the coats) or one of those ubiquitous check photos (which around here are actually quite small - maybe $2k or $5k). We do quite a lot of these kinds of thank yous and I can’t decide if it makes people who are current not giving feel like joining in or if it discourages them.

Slightly different but related: the also ubiquitous lists of donors and their giving levels, either in an annual report or on our website.  Does this inspire more giving? Inspire loyalty? Do nothing? Or repress giving?


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  03:00 PM

I am a volunteer fundraiser. My ideas have been raising nice sums of $$ for charities in the US and UK for since 1988. One of my concepts has raised $1.3 billion for a single charity since 1992. Why is it that charities have such a “not invented here” attitude when I approach them to use the concept? Incidentally, the concept takes no time or any real $$$ to employ. I simply encourage peer to peer fundraising via existing events and piggybacking upon them. (Pardon the vagueness re the concept.)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/11  at  06:21 PM

Leave a Comment





Preview Comment:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

<< Back to main