Robin Williams' Suicide: Fundraisers' Role When America Copes With Tragedy
August 13, 2014

Robin Williams was selfish when he committed suicide, because it ruined his day, an acquaintance told me on the train on Monday night. With the news just 90 minutes old on the East Coast, my acquaintance was probably trying to be funny. This acquaintance, though, was no Robin Williams, whose gift for comedy still unites generations. My seatmate, however, did bring up one of the most important ways nonprofits can bring about positive outcomes from this tragedy: education, including correcting misconceptions, and fundraising for suicide prevention.

Denny’s Daily Zinger: Asking for Money to Save a Massive, Rusted-out Hunk of Junk
July 24, 2014

In early July, Peggy and I attended the Bridge Conference in D.C.—a gathering of the world's leading fundraisers. Passionate professionals described how to save children, clean the environment, eradicate disease and feed the hungry. Thrilling! "Save the SS United States!" The following week, The New York Times ran a story:"Keeping a Historic Ship Afloat." For 10 years, the United States—completely gutted—has turned Philadelphia's waterfront into a slum.

Fundraiser Alert: Doozy of a Settlement
July 3, 2014

CNN reports that its 3-year-old investigation into Quadriga Art's activities on behalf of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation found that QA took almost all of the money raised for DVNF and provided nothing of value to veterans. As a result, "the New York State Attorney General's office has reached a nearly $25 million settlement with one of the nation's biggest direct mail companies."

Denny’s Daily Zinger: What Does This $194,166.00 Ad Accomplish?
June 27, 2014

On June 20, 2014, the executive team of the Metropolitan Opera signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. The title: "An Open Letter to Opera Lovers from the Board of the Metropolitan Opera." The lede: "As readers of The New York Times know, the Metropolitan Opera is currently in the midst of contract negotiations with 15 of the 16 unions representing employees that work at the Met.

Denny's Daily Zinger: Investor Creates Bogus PAC
May 14, 2014

Last week, a story broke about the Senate Banking Committee looking to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those government-sponsored agencies that guarantee home mortgages. Fannie and Freddie backed the home loans of millions of borrowers with lousy credit histories. The result: the $817 billion bailout by the federal government back in 2008. Enter Bruce Berkowitz

Nonprofit Best Practice: Integrate Email and Direct Mail Messages
May 2, 2014

Are your email communications to donors simply a copy of messages from your other communication channels, like your direct mail appeals? If so, you might not be leveraging the benefits of email in your donor communications. Email is an excellent tool for nonprofit organizations. It’s relatively inexpensive when compared to direct mail; it’s immediate and allows for flexibility; and it can yield quick results both in terms of donations and analysis. But when integrated with your direct mail messaging, email becomes a more powerful channel to communicate with donors. Here are five best practices for integrating your nonprofit organization’s email

Fundraising Sees Growth as Overall Mail Volume Decreases
April 10, 2014

In the last 10 years, more than 106,000 direct mail offers were received by Who's Mailing What! Before the Great Recession, WMW! averaged 12,600 offers a year (2004-2008), but since 2009, the annual volume has decreased to an average of 8,720.

Denny's Daily Zinger: Democrats! Yuck!
April 4, 2014

Jordan Kaplan wants money. His copy drivers—emotional hot buttons causing me to act—are anger, fear and guilt: Anger and Fear: … the Koch brothers spending tens of millions of dollars to trash President Obama and his allies … Guilt: …  I'm spending an unhealthy amount of time looking at spreadsheets to figure out if we're going to be able to give Democratic candidates the resources they need to continue building their campaigns. Now, Denny, my eyes are pretty bleary …

15 Odd Things That Make Direct Mail Fundraising Appeals Successful
April 1, 2014

The doctor I interviewed for a recent appeal was great. We got into this geeky discussion of recent neuroscience and how it can shape behavior. He uses it with patients, to keep them on their meds. I use it with prospects, to gently guide them to give. Still, he’s no direct mail expert. And he’ll be getting a letter to review, a letter I wrote, to be sent out over his signature. Is there room for misunderstanding? Oh, yeah. The person signing your appeal might wonder… “why does good direct mail sound so weird?”

When Personalization Goes Too Far
March 25, 2014

Gosh, for years I have been trumpeting the value of personalization and how important it is to securing the relationship. Knowing who your constituents are and what they have been doing with your brand is so critical to cementing loyalty. But sometimes it can go too far based on how you choose to use that information. In fact, sometimes it can be downright creepy. Yes, it is true. I have had to look my advice straight in the eyes and have been repelled with horror because someone used my information inappropriately. This really happened to me