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Easier Said Than Done : 25 Random Things About Fundraising

Here’s some stuff you might not know about an old friend.

May 2009 By Jeff Brooks
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If fundraising were a person, and he or she was on Facebook, I’d tag her/him with the nasty “25 Random Things” meme. We’d learn some surprising things about fundraising. But since fundraising itself is a mute nonentity, I’ve taken the job upon myself …

1. The oldest recorded fundraising appeal was written by St. Paul around A.D. 55. It’s an appeal to a group of church members in Greece to help impoverished church members in Jerusalem. The appeal is a masterpiece of donor-centered fundraising, spending most of its words describing the benefits of giving.

2. Race and ethnicity are not good predictors of charitable giving. Age and sex, however, are strong predictors: Women give more than men, and older people give more than younger people.

3. Someone who regularly attends a house of worship is twice as likely to give to charitable causes as someone who seldom or never does. The churchgoer gives 100 times as much to charity per year — including 50 times as much to nonreligious causes.

4. Measuring by percentage of gross domestic product, the United States gives more to private charity than do any of the world’s nations. The U.S. is followed by Israel, Canada and Argentina. The most generous European nations — Spain, Ireland and the U.K. — give less than half of what the U.S. gives on a percentage basis.

5. The most read part of a fundraising letter is the P.S. That’s why the professionals always use the P.S. to restate the letter’s call to action, rather than for the traditional afterthought.

6. Mail recipients spend more time looking at the back of the envelope than the front. Think about it: You have to face the back toward you in order to get the envelope open. A tricky way to take advantage of this is to put the recipient’s address (or the window that displays it) on the flap side of the envelope.

7. A pleasant orange scent applied to a direct-mail package does nothing to improve fundraising results.

8. More often than not, an envelope with no message on the outside gets better fundraising results than one with a message. I don’t think this is because nothing is better than something, but because most teasers are so lame we’re better off without them.
 
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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Antonio - Posted on October 09, 2009
This little article on funraising is enlighteneing. Somethings I nevere considered before.
Mary - Posted on June 07, 2009
Number 4 is interesting; part of this can probably explained by the fact that most European nations have a lot of socialized services, like healthcare for example. So it becomes unnecessary to have a charity that pays for expensive cancer surgeries etc. because it's all taken care of by the government already.

Same with higher education; in many European countries you can go to college for free, because many are completely government funded. Which means no need or diminished need to raise funds.
pongogirl - Posted on June 02, 2009
Wonderful, wonderful insights - Thank you.
Jim Lewis - Posted on May 31, 2009
#15. is so true. When news of VP Joe Biden's charitable giving came out we saw that we gave in one year what he gave in 10!
Samantha - Posted on May 29, 2009
I do fund raising for a non profit in Philadelphia and I found this list extremely helpful. In fact, it prompted me to donate to my favorite charity!
Nathan Brown - Posted on May 28, 2009
Some great points that we have found to be true in a Australia/NZ context. Point 3 is spot on. We have also found this to be true through researched - especially in the US. Point 10 is also great. Measuring Total income, not just response to a single initiative is key. Single appeals do not exist in a vacuum. People want choice and some are not trackable. The aim is net revenue to do the work. Thanks for this insightful list.
Yehuda Burdman - Posted on May 25, 2009
Jeff,
Thanks for these great ideas. They are awesome.
About the first fund raising event, the building of the tabernacle comes to mind in the book of Leviticus or Exodus.
All the Best
Yehuda

Gonzalo Ibarra - Posted on May 17, 2009
Thanks Jeff for this post. Allways for me, is an inspiration read you.

Greetings from Chile
Craig - Posted on May 15, 2009
How does $1 turn into $19 of GDP? That seems like a great story for nonprofits to trumpet, but is there any evidence about this that we can cite?
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Antonio - Posted on October 09, 2009
This little article on funraising is enlighteneing. Somethings I nevere considered before.
Mary - Posted on June 07, 2009
Number 4 is interesting; part of this can probably explained by the fact that most European nations have a lot of socialized services, like healthcare for example. So it becomes unnecessary to have a charity that pays for expensive cancer surgeries etc. because it's all taken care of by the government already.

Same with higher education; in many European countries you can go to college for free, because many are completely government funded. Which means no need or diminished need to raise funds.
pongogirl - Posted on June 02, 2009
Wonderful, wonderful insights - Thank you.
Jim Lewis - Posted on May 31, 2009
#15. is so true. When news of VP Joe Biden's charitable giving came out we saw that we gave in one year what he gave in 10!
Samantha - Posted on May 29, 2009
I do fund raising for a non profit in Philadelphia and I found this list extremely helpful. In fact, it prompted me to donate to my favorite charity!
Nathan Brown - Posted on May 28, 2009
Some great points that we have found to be true in a Australia/NZ context. Point 3 is spot on. We have also found this to be true through researched - especially in the US. Point 10 is also great. Measuring Total income, not just response to a single initiative is key. Single appeals do not exist in a vacuum. People want choice and some are not trackable. The aim is net revenue to do the work. Thanks for this insightful list.
Yehuda Burdman - Posted on May 25, 2009
Jeff,
Thanks for these great ideas. They are awesome.
About the first fund raising event, the building of the tabernacle comes to mind in the book of Leviticus or Exodus.
All the Best
Yehuda

Gonzalo Ibarra - Posted on May 17, 2009
Thanks Jeff for this post. Allways for me, is an inspiration read you.

Greetings from Chile
Craig - Posted on May 15, 2009
How does $1 turn into $19 of GDP? That seems like a great story for nonprofits to trumpet, but is there any evidence about this that we can cite?