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The Gift of the Ask

I was struck this past Christmas by something my 13-year-old son did.
Leading up to Christmas he made a …

I was struck this past Christmas by something my 13-year-old son did.

Leading up to Christmas he made a wish list, he kept running to the tree to see if his name was on a package, he talked about how excited he was to get his presents; but on Christmas morning something flipped.

When we sat around the tree to open gifts, he asked “Can I go first?” Given permission he ran to the tree and grabbed the gifts he had bought for his parents and sister and handed them out with a beaming smile on his face. Without even realizing it, he demonstrated that deep down, he was more excited about giving than getting.

I’m not sure why fundraisers often feel bad about asking for money. Perhaps they feel like it cheapens the relationship. Remember, your gift to your Donors is asking them for money. You are giving them a gift that will give them that beaming smile.

“I ask for money standing up, not bowing down because I believe in what I am about. I believe I have something important to offer.” (Henri J.M. Noewen, A Spirituality of Fundraising).

– Cam

Read more 01/02/2017

People Hate Being Asked For Money

I’ll never forget when Taylor Conroy of Change Heroes and now Journey333 said that at the beginning of …

I’ll never forget when Taylor Conroy of Change Heroes and now Journey333 said that at the beginning of a talk at one of our summits.

Clearly Taylor has a flair for the dramatic, and he certainly got the attention of a room full of fundraisers, and made me, his host, feel just a little uncomfortable.

After making sure we were all listening, Taylor went on to say that as fundraisers we need to find a higher purpose. Simply asking people for money is not motivating and will not be effective. People want to do great things. They want to be involved in making the world a better place. They want to help. They want to be someone’s hero. They are not motivated to ‘give you’ money in order to help your organization.

As soon as we, as fundraisers, can set our egos aside and get rid of our motivations for raising funds and focus on what makes our donors excited, we are unlocking a brand new potential.

The distinction is subtle but important. People don’t like being asked for money but they want to be invited to do something great. Let’s focus on giving them that opportunity.

This isn’t new thinking Henri Nouwen was making the same point years ago in A Spirituality of Fundraising, when he said: “Every time we approach people for money, we must be sure that we are inviting them into this vision of fruitfulness and into a vision that is fruitful.”

– Cam

Read more 11/07/2016

Do The Math

I’ve talked to a lot of organizations lately that seem to be frightened by the current environment and …

I’ve talked to a lot of organizations lately that seem to be frightened by the current environment and chasing a spiral down the drain.

It is difficult to raise money right now. If anyone comes to you and suggests it’s not, run. Run fast.

That said, the fundamentals have not changed. It’s still about the math. You need a big mouth on your funnel. This funnel is expanded by awareness and low-barrier asks (not for money but hand raisers). After that, you need a deliberate and well-planned path to engagement. That’s it.

So the bad news is you HAVE TO invest in putting people into the funnel. The good news is that if you do, and you pay attention to their treatment, a predictable percentage of them will support your case.

Don’t freeze in fear of how to do it. Do the math. Invest. Measure. Get it done.

– Cam

Read more 09/22/2016

Million-Dollar View

In much of the world this mountainous view of the ocean would demand a million-dollar price tag, just …

In much of the world this mountainous view of the ocean would demand a million-dollar price tag, just for the view. But this is Haiti and this is the coastline that 600,000 residents of Port Au Prince came to after the earthquake nearly seven years ago.

The ‘homes’ built here were not meant to be homes. They were built as temporary shelters. “There’s a difference,” Vijonet Demero, Bethany’s Country Director for Haiti, reminds me. “They are all falling down now, yet the people have nowhere to go.”

I was warned that we were going into an area that was not safe. There could be problems because I am a white outsider.

“Look around before you get out of the truck.”

“We will always think about our quickest exit route and park so that we can easily get out if we need to.”

“Sorry, we can’t go see that family because there is a group of men gathered nearby that could create a problem.”

“The windows are blackened, so they can’t see who is inside.”

“We need to make sure we are out of this area well before dark.”

This was all part of the conversation…before we got lost. And for the record, although I was listening, I never saw anything that made me feel concerned.

The trails, paths and roads that weave this squatter community together are a maze. Even though our driver claimed to “know every road in Haiti” we got lost. And every set of directions we received contradicted the last. “This is not good,” he muttered. At night it is absolutely black. There is no electricity or running water in this region, just temporary shelters and 600,000 people. After passing the same people, signs and shelters several times, we found a bird’s eye perch and mapped a route out of the maze before dark.

“Sure, we could help them start small businesses. We could give them a loan,” says Vijonet, “but no one could pay for their products, so they’d give everything away out of compassion. How do we ask them to repay the loan then?”

What about the hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone to Haiti over the past several years? That’s too complicated for this short piece. There’s corruption, there are many reasons, but the road to hell can sometimes be paved with good intentions. Pointing over to a multi-million-dollar Olympic park that was recently built on the edge of the squatter community, Vijonet reflects, “They think that giving is always a blessing. Sometimes it’s not. They give you what you don’t need and can force it on you. This park has never been used once. The area is far too dangerous for people to travel to, and those who live here are not thinking about athletics.”

Distant view of Olympic Park

We met a family that is supported through child sponsorship but the support was only enough to send four of their five children to school. With a pained look in her eyes the mother told us which one she simply couldn’t afford to send. A choice no mother should ever have to make.

It feels like it should be solvable. But looking at the beautiful Caribbean coastline and the Olympic park and the thousands of permanent-temporary shelters, it all just feels wrong.

– Cam

Read more 08/10/2016

Talking Middle Donors Across the Globe

“Wow, I’ve been to a bunch of talks and workshops on middle donors but this is the first …

“Wow, I’ve been to a bunch of talks and workshops on middle donors but this is the first one that the presenter actually knew what he was talking about.”

That’s feedback we got after our Toronto Middle Donor workshop on May 11. And I’m not even sure how to respond.

Granted, I can shoot from the hip with the best of them. Over my career I’ve been guilty of suggesting we know more about certain topics than we actually do because I’m confident we can figure it out. But agree to give a workshop on a topic I know nothing about, dude, that’s outta my league.

I’m glad that our friend finally got the solid help he’s been looking for at our workshop. And it’s help that couldn’t have come at a better time. Truth is, acquisition and cultivation costs are rising and donors are apparently becoming more fickle. So focusing on an area that will increase revenue and produce great cost-to-income ratios makes a ton of sense.

But remember folks. Do your research to make sure your presenter didn’t sign up for the wrong session by accident!

Seriously, though, the day was good. We had a full room of people from a diverse range of agencies: international development, advocacy, hospital foundation, university, animal protection, a summer camp and a bunch of others. The case for support varied dramatically between organizations, but the challenges and experiences were remarkably consistent.

Everyone had the same questions: How do we make a case for Middle Donor investment to leadership? What’s the optimal donor file size for our donor reps. Where’s the best place to start building an effective Middle Donor program?

The thing I liked most about the day? The fundraising community is very competitive. I was standing in front of a room full of ‘competitors.’ People who might have held back, not wanting to share the recipe to their ‘secret sauce’ or admit to others that they had challenges and were not perfect. It could have been almost awkward. It wasn’t. This was a room full of people doing serious good in the world. I think everyone realized pretty early on that is was safe to share and if you are willing to give something away, you’ll get more back in return.

Following our Middle Donor Workshop in Toronto, I boarded a plane to travel to Hong Kong to train World Vision International Middle Donor reps from 11 Asian offices.

This group of fundraisers in Asia was awesome — they were experienced and engaged. I got to ‘teach’ but left thinking I’d learned as much as I taught. As Asia becomes increasingly critical in the world economy, it’s important for us to understand their cultures better, because everything we do here does not translate there. We had many good discussions about what fits and what doesn’t.

Whether East or West, both experiences reinforced what we’ve learned over the past decade focused on growing this segment for our clients — strategies and disciplines are lacking in many organizations to meet the revenue growth potential Middle Donors represent.


Read more 05/26/2016

Stuck in the Middle: A Little-Understood Segment with Huge Potential

Last month, I started banging the drum about Middle Donors, writing about the benefits of extending your fundraising …

Last month, I started banging the drum about Middle Donors, writing about the benefits of extending your fundraising relationship with this undervalued group. Well, this month I’m still bangin’ away. After more than a decade of focusing on this high-value segment, I’ve got lots to say!

Fact or Fiction?

See if you can tell whether the following statements are true or false.

  1. Middle and Major Donors should not receive mail. They will end up giving $100 to a mail piece rather than $10,000 to me at the kitchen table.
  2. Middle and Major Donors should receive the exact same mail treatment as everyone else.
  3. Middle Donors are no different than Mass Donors.

If they’re being honest, most folks have no clue! And that’s totally understandable. Middle Donor programs live in a weird kind of purgatory between Mass and Major Donors and there tends to be a lot of confusion about which kind of treatment should win out.

Let me give you some information that’ll help put an end to some of the confusion.

(Skip to the end of this post for details on our NEW worshop which will help you separate fact from fiction about YOUR particular Middle Donors.)

Middle Donors are people who love your organization. They likely give monthly or fairly regularly to your ongoing programs. And at the end of the year, at tax time, or when holiday love is on their minds, they often WANT to give a little something more. If you position yourself well, get to know what’s important to them, and present ideas that align with their interests, they WILL give more.

How to Target

I like to encourage organizations to set a percentage that dictates the amount of money they will spend to welcome, cultivate, steward, and ask Middle Donors to give again. To illustrate, let’s just say that number is 10%. That means that for a donor who gives $40 per year, you give yourself a budget of $4 to spend on them — that’s about two pieces of mail and a few emails.

For a donor who gives $2,000, you can spend $200. While that’s not enough to send someone to their home or take them out to lunch, it is certainly enough for a few mail pieces, several emails, and a couple in-depth phone calls with someone from your organization.

This is the unappreciated beauty of the Middle Donor. You can give them a highly customized treatment, a real live person they can contact, and targeted offers — the kind of treatment that makes a person want to give more. Significantly more!

Cost-Effective Interaction

In the end, the goal of a successful Middle Donor program is to create a real, meaningful relationship with someone you’ll never actually meet. It’s got to be efficient, cost-effective, and highly relevant.

Think of it this way: interacting with Middle Donors is more than “talking” with Siri, and it’s more than a guy at a sweat-box call centre with a rigid script. But it’s not quite an expensive personal banker who visits a customer’s home to drop off their new black card.

Hands-on Middle Donor Workshop

If you want to separate fact from fiction about YOUR Middle Donors, you should really join us at our NEW workshop:The Art and Science of Strengthening Your Middle Donor Core” on May 11 in Toronto. It’s all about harnessing the power of your Middle Donor segment for optimal fundraising impact.

Be sure to check out the full agenda and registration options.

Hope to see you there!


Read more 04/19/2016

Are you on the Middle Donor bandwagon?

Back in 1989, Stephen R. Covey published his best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and for …

Back in 1989, Stephen R. Covey published his best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and for some time after that everything in business was about time management.

Marketers were selling calendars as time management devices, and conference talks and seminars were all about making you a more effective time manager. It was a bandwagon that everyone simply had to be on.

The bandwagon right now in the fundraising industry is Middle Donor management.

Everywhere I go, people are talking about Middle Donors. It’s the most popular talk at conferences, everyone is an expert, and every single organization is trying to figure out how to engage this high-potential group most effectively.

Here’s the thing — Middle Donor fundraising is not that hard or complicated. There is a specific, proven way to do it. If you do it right, it will work. We’ve found that out over the last 10+ years and have lots of documented case studies to show it.

Middle Donor management combines the relational components of Major gift fundraising with the discipline of Mass fundraising. It allows you to grow your Middle Donor relationships in a scalable, manageable way. In fact, Middle Donor fundraising may be the answer to a recent industry study that asked, “Relationship Fundraising: where do we go from here?

The authors of this study rightly point out that a good donor relationship involves timely, relevant communications, a willingness to listen to your donors, and a willingness to respect their preferences. All of this builds trust and helps to foster long-term donor relationships.

The relationship approach has long been focused on Major Donors. As fundraisers, we meet these donors in person, get to know them well, and present them with tailored offers. Nothing will ever replace direct human contact in fundraising. But it’s now possible to extend aspects of relationship fundraising to your Middle Donors. In fact, by taking advantage of technology tools, you can extend the relationship approach to your entire donor file.

If Middle Donor management is a bandwagon concept, why did I jump on it in this blog post? It’s because it seems to me that the bandwagon is furiously trying to invent a wheel that’s already invented. This is not the place to spend your R&D money, folks. There are answers and proven approaches. Here’s a short video where you can learn more.

And if you’re looking for an agency to help you with Middle Donor fundraising, be sure to ask a few questions. Do they understand the principles of relationship fundraising? Do they know how to apply these principles to their Middle Donors? Can they show you some success stories that demonstrate a measurable increase in file size? Ask the right questions, and you’ll be on your way to growing your Middle Donor relationships.


  Email Cam  
Read more 03/02/2016

Finding the Hidden Gems in Your Data File

If you’re like most organizations, you work really hard at communicating your cause to the outside world. Your …

If you’re like most organizations, you work really hard at communicating your cause to the outside world. Your work is impactful and you see the difference it’s making every day. You know there are pockets within your donor file that are doing really well, but could they be doing even better? Are you aware of other fundraising opportunities or are they simply being missed?

How can you know for certain? Here’s how.

Your history as an organization has established a rich set of clues that are often buried in the columns and rows of your databases and often, unintentionally, ignored.

You know who your donors are, you know when they give, how often they give, how much they give, and what they give to. You also know where they live, and how long they’ve been connected to your organization. It may not all be perfect and there will undoubtedly be holes, but by understanding what you do know, you can develop a plan to improve your program and improve how you use your data to connect more closely with your donors.

 Your data can uncover truths and clues that will help you focus your fundraising program on areas where the biggest opportunities lie, and also help you work to repair the areas that aren’t working as they should.

Armed with a better analysis of your data, keep in mind key questions such as:

  • What portions of your file (mega, major, mid, mass) are responding best?
  • Where have you seen recent success?
  • Where are the weaknesses in your program?
  • What is your case for support and how does it scale up and down?
  • How often are you touching donors?
  • How effectively are you segmenting donors?
  • Are you providing donors with relevant and meaningful information or simply spraying the same messages out to everyone?
  • How does your face-to-face and phone work integrate with mail and electronic marketing?
  • Are you challenged with activation or retention?

Our starting point with all our clients is to do a deep dive into their donor data to answer these and other questions so we can uncover the barriers and opportunities buried within. Sometimes the outcome is a significant restructure that impacts the annual giving program as a whole, but more often, it’s about identifying a few small changes that can have great impact.

I’m seeing a furious race to the bottom in the industry now — organizations are paying more to acquire donors, and they’re bringing in donors at a lower dollar value than the competition, but this may simply attract donors who are not genuinely engaged in your cause.

Times are challenging. But the answer is not to race after a watered-down version of what used to work.

The answer is to place a magnifying glass over your donor data and look for clues. What makes your donors tick? What is working? How, when and why do they like to give? What segments and affinities exist? With answers to questions like these, you can create a program that doesn’t undercut the competition but instead builds on the strong assets you’ve invested in and built over the years.

Happy hunting!


Read more 02/01/2016

Take some cues from a ketchup bottle

I’m fresh out of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Congress in Toronto and my biggest takeaway is …

I’m fresh out of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Congress in Toronto and my biggest takeaway is ketchup.

Both keynote speakers (Dan Pallotta, author, entrepreneur, and owner of Boston-based Advertising for Humanity) and Ron Tite (CEO of The Tite Group, a Toronto agency specializing in branding and content marketing) went to great lengths to talk about it. That, and I love ketchup – I’ve always said French fries are really just ketchup holders.

Here’s how Dan and Ron’s stories went. . .

 The next time you pick up a ketchup bottle, take a good look at it.

Remember when ketchup came in glass bottles? You had to shake the bottle, hard. The ketchup flew out in globs and spattered your hot dog and your shirt. When the bottle was nearly empty, you had to stick a knife inside to scoop out the remaining ketchup.

Not good.

Then someone had a bright idea: What about a plastic, squeezable ketchup container? It could sit on its cap, collecting the ketchup at the bottom, so you never had to shake. It could have a small opening that prevented messy globs.

It was a brilliant redesign – and it all came out of looking at the consumer pain points and rethinking a product accordingly.

As fundraisers and nonprofits, we can learn a lot from this. We can rethink what we do, based on our donors’ pain points. We can change what we’re doing so we give our donors a better experience. We can boldly go beyond the “glass bottle.”

Dan and Ron told the AFP audience: Don’t assume the way you’ve always done it is the only way to do it. Go to where your donors are – get to know them, and their expectations and frustrations.

I was encouraged to see how their thinking aligns with what we’re doing at Blue North.

We use tools like data intelligence, predictive modelling and trends analysis to help our clients find out what their donors really want. We help our clients re-examine their giving offers and programs. Our goal is to help our clients give their donors an immersive, life-giving experience, one that compels them to give in return.

That ketchup bottle reminds us: It’s time to stop doing what’s not working.

It’s time to find out what our donors are looking for – and start doing that instead.


Read more 12/02/2015


Non-profit organizations tend to put donors into three “buckets” — Mass, Middle, and Major. Are you paying equal …

Non-profit organizations tend to put donors into three “buckets” — Mass, Middle, and Major. Are you paying equal attention to all three?

Middle donors tend to be the ones who are overlooked, although lately they’re getting more attention in the fundraising industry.

Blue North has lots of experience with Middle donors — in fact, it’s where we got our start. Here’s my advice for showing some love to these committed givers:

Give them the keys. Let your Middle donors drive the relationship with your organization.

What do I mean by that?

I mean you need to listen to your Middle donors closely. Find out what matters to them. Gather qualitative and quantitative insights, and use these to deepen your donor relationships.

Listen to them.

Your Middle donors are an incredible resource. If your representatives are in contact with them by phone, you have a tremendous opportunity to listen to these donors. What are they passionate about? Why do they support your organization? What do they want to hear more about? How else do they want to get involved?

Look at their data.

Look closely at your Middle donor data to gather more information. Find out:
> What programs your Middle donors give to.
> When they give — their preferred time of year.
> How they want you to communicate with them.
> Anything else that sets this group of givers apart from the rest.

Now, bring it all together.

Connect the quantitative data with the qualitative data captured by your reps. Look for natural giving patterns. Then, meet the passion of your Middle donors with personalized communications and giving opportunities.

For example, maybe you find out your Middle donors tend to give big gifts at the end of the year. Why not create an annual renewable request for a specific program, and send this out to them every November?

Give your Middle donors — the overlooked ones — the keys. You won’t regret it.

If you’d like to explore this further, ask about our comprehensive Middle donor training program for your representatives.


Read more 10/19/2015


Guest Post by Pete Ward, Senior Director, Client Insights
A few years ago, I saw a highly entertaining movie …

Guest Post by Pete Ward, Senior Director, Client Insights

 A few years ago, I saw a highly entertaining movie called Moneyball – the story of how the Oakland A’s assembled a competitive baseball team on a lean budget by using insights gleaned from data. Their one insight was to recruit undervalued players with a high on-base percentage — key to winning games.

Apart from it being a great story, what I liked is how this simple insight upended long-held, once unassailable assumptions of what it took to win. And while many felt analytics had no place in baseball — with its storied history and traditions – the data helped create a better team and a better game, thrilling the A’s fans.

Beyond baseball, we’re seeing how “big data” is changing the nature of retailing, banking, telecommunications, and more. For example, a 93-year-old retailing institution in Canada — with its own storied traditions — is thriving in a highly competitive retail landscape by embracing data, coupled with technology. Its customers are defining what’s of value and driving its retail strategy.

I see the same opportunities for non-profits, believing data analytics opens up new possibilities for our clients — by revealing insights about what their donors find meaningful, and building long-term commitment that creates sustainable revenue growth.

At bottom, an organization’s compelling vision to change the world for good, along with inspiring stories and creative fundraising programs, are what motivate donors to get involved. It’s the data insight that helps us understand what is delivering the right outcome and why.

As the pace of change increases, I’m committed to assisting our clients be agile — quickly developing and measuring the value of their new ideas. And I’m committed to providing insights that are more predictive than descriptive; more actionable than idly “interesting.”

I’m truly excited to be part of the Blue North team, and look forward to rolling up my sleeves with our clients to help them achieve their world-changing goals.

Read more 09/17/2015

I’ve got an exciting announcement

From day one, Blue North has been about data. We know data is the key to helping our …

From day one, Blue North has been about data. We know data is the key to helping our clients raise more money to do more good in the world. Our commitment to maintaining a robust technical infrastructure to deliver on this conviction has always been strong.

It just grew.

 And now I’m incredibly excited to welcome Pete Ward to our team as head of our Data Insight area. Pete’s reputation as a smart fundraiser, innovator, and thought leader speaks for itself. Through senior leadership roles at World Vision Canada and the Hospital for Sick Children, he’s shown just how powerful data can be. Pete’s mandate is to ensure Blue North goes deeper in this area and uses your data to develop insights, ideas, and plans that will make big differences for you and your mission.

As Pete says: “I’m committed to providing insights that are more predictive than descriptive; more actionable than idly ‘interesting.’”

Intrigued? You can hear more from him on Thursday, when he’ll do a guest post on my blog. You won’t want to miss it.

Welcome, Pete.


Read more 09/15/2015

Fundraising lessons from Hollywood

I took the kids to Warner Bros. Studio in LA last week.
We wandered through the maze of movie …

I took the kids to Warner Bros. Studio in LA last week.

We wandered through the maze of movie sets – buildings and towns and parks and jungles – and marvelled at the famous stories that have been filmed here.

And it got me thinking about storytelling.

But before I continue, let me show you two photos of me and my son at Warner Bros. These pictures were taken without trick photography or funny lenses or anything like that.





As you can see, I look big and Reuben looks small in one photo, and vice versa in the other. It’s all done through different perspectives, props, distance from the subject, and framing of the photo.

Same people. But different framing, and an emphasis on different elements.

As I said, it got me thinking about telling a good fundraising story.

A good story emphasizes certain elements to bring them into sharp focus. It paints a picture that is fresh, interesting, and unexpected. And it helps your donors see something they wouldn’t normally see … something that motivates them to give.

I want to be clear that I’m not talking about making things up. I’m talking about the art of seeing differently.

If you can find the gems and jewels in your material – themes that can be polished – then you can create an engaging story. You’ll help your donors, too. They won’t have to sort through all the details to get the point of what you’re saying.

For example, if you tell a story about providing clean water in a developing country, you don’t have to give all the administrative details about digging wells and installing pipelines.

You can frame your story instead – through the eyes of one child, perhaps. Tell about the difference clean water makes for that girl or boy.

Pick one theme to emphasize. No more constant stomach aches from drinking dirty water? No more sore necks from balancing a pail of water on your head? No more fear of snakebites on the long walk to the pond? No more being late for class each morning? More time to play with friends and enjoy being a kid?

Frame your material, pick your theme, and polish it. You will create a story that catches your reader’s interest. Take it from me – or rather, take it from Hollywood.


Read more 08/10/2015

Your story is simple. And so powerful.

On a recent visit to Manhattan, I had breakfast with an exceptionally generous person.
He’d just made a $15-million …

On a recent visit to Manhattan, I had breakfast with an exceptionally generous person.

He’d just made a $15-million gift to a non-profit organization. Not only that, but he’d also given an equal amount to his church.

This individual is hardworking and humble. He built a business that did very well, and when he sold it, he wanted to share the proceeds with organizations that aligned with his deep personal values.

Between bites of omelette, I asked him why he’d decided to support the specific cause he’d given to. I expected to hear that he’d done a lot of research, crunched the numbers, and satisfied himself that the financial plan was sound.

He told me:

“I got a letter in the mail with a picture and a story of a little girl. It broke my heart. I knew I had to do something.”

I was blown away — and I’ve been thinking about his response ever since.

So today, what I want to pass on to you is this:

Never forget the pure, simple, wonderful, inspirational message of what your organization does.

Tell that story over and over. Don’t let your story get lost in the complexities of your work or your desire to communicate every single aspect of what you do.

If the purpose of fundraising is to gratify ourselves with the difficult work that we’re doing, then yes, we could make a case for sharing a multitude of details about issues and context and strategic priorities and so on. But if our purpose is to raise money for the cause, then let’s focus on pure, simple, impact.

Because in the end, it’s about how you’re changing people’s lives and creating a better world. It’s about your essential “why,” as Simon Sinek says.

Tell your story. Share the basic need. Show your donors how they can respond.

It really is that simple.


Read more 07/08/2015

You Have $75. How Should You Spend It?

There’s no doubt — we’re living in a tough fundraising environment.
Just look at how different things are today, …

There’s no doubt — we’re living in a tough fundraising environment.

CamJust look at how different things are today, compared to 10 years ago (and I’m not just talking about what happened to my hair).

Today, nonprofits spend about $50 to $100
to get one new donor on board. That’s
one person. One gift. And no guarantee
                                      of future giving.

Ten years ago, if you spent $50 to $100 on marketing, you could bring in one new monthly donor — someone committed to long-term giving.

While I never want to think of donors in terms of numbers, the reality is that nonprofits today have to spend a lot more on marketing if they want to attract new people to their cause.

So the question I want to ask you is this:

What is the best use of your marketing budget?

Say you have $75 to spend per donor. Is it better to invest that money in bringing a new donor into your organization? Or is it better to invest in retaining your existing donors? (The retention investment would consist of relational touches like thank-you calls, welcome packages, impact reports, and so on).

I’m going to suggest that treating your donors exceptionally well — especially your new donors — makes very good business sense.

It’s a significant opportunity for most organizations to improve their fundraising.

To be clear, this isn’t a “one or the other” option. To have a healthy file, you have to work at both acquisition and retention. But if your retention numbers are low, this is definitely the place to start.

I’ll talk more about this in future posts and I’ll show you in more detail what I mean.

Until then,


Read more 06/03/2015


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What Drives Us

It is gratifying to partner with organizations driven by passion and purpose. We'll help you scale up your efforts and grow your resources so you can change the world.


  • Year-End Campaign

    To capitalize on the year-end giving season, the client asked Blue North to craft two mailings (each with …

  • Save the Children Canada

    When Save the Children turned to Blue North to produce their annual report, our design team came up …

  • World Vision U.S.

    For this direct mail fundraising campaign, Blue North produced three mailings — including letters, a brochure, a newsletter, …