Philosophy + Existence

“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.”

 —Richard P. Feynman

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Philosophy + Existence

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Nonprofits + Fundraising

Philosophy + Existence

Infinite players frustrate their competitors
Simon explains the importance of playing the infinite game, while giving real examples from companies like Microsoft and Apple. The goal is not to beat your competition, but to outlast your competition.
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The shortcut to success
“The shortcut is doing the hard thing you don’t want to do. The longer you delay, the longer the path.” —Shane Parrish
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Take nothing for granted
“I remember times when you and I were walking and, without prompting, you reached out and took my hand, your little fingers sliding into mine. I would like to tell you how that felt, but it is too big for words.” An excerpt from ‘Finding Chicka” by Mitch Albom Time passes in the blink of an eye. Take...
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Examples > Opinions
“The world is changed by examples, not by opinions.” – Paul Coelho
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Imperfect action > No action
“If we wait for the moment when everything is ready, we shall never begin.” —Ivan Turgenev I was reminded (and inspired) of these words by the work of my friend Meena McCullough. It takes courage to take those first steps. Always.
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It's good to be silly at the right moment
Mix a little foolishness with your prudence; it’s good to be silly at the right moment. – Horace
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The pleasure of finding things out
“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd...
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The courage to unlearn
“It takes curiosity to learn. It takes courage to unlearn. Learning requires the humility to admit what you don’t know today. Unlearning requires the integrity to admit that you were wrong yesterday. Learning is how you evolve. Unlearning is how you keep up as the world evolves.” –...
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You can't wait until life isn't hard
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”
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People first, always
“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” —Elizabeth Green
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The challenge of being yourself
“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.” – Miles Davis
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The parable of the long spoons
A very old man knew that he was going to die very soon. Before he died he wanted to know what heaven and hell were like, so he visited the wise man in his village. “Can you please tell me what heaven and hell are like?” he asked the wise man. “Come with me and I will show you”, the wise man replied....
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Invent your own life’s meaning
“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise...
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Turn people into trees
“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort...
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4 Concepts to Consider for Your Value Proposition
Out of all the things there are to learn about online fundraising, defining your value proposition is the most fundamental. Your value proposition is the key to each step up the donor mountain—because each step prompts questions in the mind of your donor. Why should they open your email? Why should they...
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Our perception vs reality
“Life is rarely about what happened—it’s mostly about what we think happened.” – Chuck Klosterman
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Feel the emotion fully
“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.” —Marcel Proust
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Mapping Your Donor’s Journey
Imagine you’re about to go on a hike. You’re heading into the wilderness, finding a mountain, and going to the top!  That plot twist is that you’re completely unprepared: no equipment, no map, and no idea of what’s ahead. Also, you’ve never gone on a hike before.  While I appreciate your sense...
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Our questions matter
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts, and be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” – Fred Rogers
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Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus
Throughout the history of mankind, the subject of identity has sent poets to the blank page, philosophers to the agora, and seekers to the oracles. These murky waters of abstract thinking are tricky to navigate, so it’s probably fitting that to demonstrate the complexity, the Greek historian Plutarch...
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Should Nonprofits Give Donors the Option to Cover Transaction Fees?
Asking donors to cover the transaction fees on their online gifts has become commonplace on giving forms these days. It’s not hard to see why.  While these fees might seem small at the transactional level, over the course of a year they can eat a considerable portion of your nonprofit’s revenue. ...
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Mystery is endless knowability
“Mystery is not that which is unknowable, but that which is endlessly knowable.” – Richard Rohr
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The perfect decision tree for every time optimist and people pleaser
The perfect decision tree for every time optimist and people pleaser
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A special heart that listens
“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Differentiation comes from clarity of why
“Companies that offer lots of options are often struggling to differentiate. Differentiation comes from clarity of why not excess of what.” —Simon Sinek
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Finite thinking vs infinite mindset
When we play to win in a game that has no finish line, there are consistent consequences. So, are you trying to win? Or are you playing to stay in the game?
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The moral bucket list
The Moral Bucket List It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful....
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5 Reasons Donors Choose Not to Give
It’s tough to think about, but the reality is that 98 to 99% of the people who visit your website will not make a donation.  Beyond that, somewhere around 80 to 85% of the people who click on your “Donate” button are not going to complete their gift.  So we need to ask ourselves, why are people...
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There's more than one way to be human
“If you really want to get along with somebody, let them be themselves.” – Willie Nelson
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What is marketing?
“Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. Marketing helps others become who they seek to become.” – Seth Godin
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Be the person you’d want to work with
There are all kinds of ways to organize a team. In my experience, groups that invest in growing together, encouraging one another, and holding each other accountable create better products and more fulfilled human beings. Granted, this is easier said than done. We people are like labyrinths and often...
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The opportunity of adversity
“Every challenge, every adversity, contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” —Roy Bennett
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Our lives are made in these small hours
“The really important ‘great’ events are never center stage of life’s dramas; they’re always ‘in the wings.’ That’s why it’s so essential for us to be mindful of the humble and the deep rather than the flashy and the superficial.” —A Christmas...
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What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?
I very frequently get the question: “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” That’s a very interesting question. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two. You can build...
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The only constant is change
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” -Heraclitus
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3 Ways Your Value Proposition Is Being Sabotaged
According to my friends at NextAfter, only 50% of giving pages offer a clear value proposition.  So what if you’re one of the 50% but your conversion rate goals are still not met? Why isn’t your value proposition motivating more donors to give? More than likely, something is sabotaging your value proposition...
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Clarity is kindness
“To be clear, is to be kind” — Brené Brown
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How To Communicate Delays in Online Fundraising
Good news is easy to share. All of us would love to communicate positive progress all day long. But communicating bad news can be nerve-wracking when talking with donors.  It’s natural to think that telling donors about a delay, unfortunate event, or mistake may destroy the trust you’ve built...
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Keeping Your Fundraising Fresh (Even When You’re Telling The Same Story Again)
Maybe you’ve been there before. At first, you were excited to get the word out to donors about what your nonprofit is doing. But now… You’re sitting at your computer about to create your next email appeal, blog post, or social media post. And the thought of telling the same old story again just drains...
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Life is not a journey
Because we simply cheated ourselves a whole way down the line. We thought of life by analogy with a journey—with a pilgrimage which had a serious purpose at the end—the thing was to get to that end success or…heaven… But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing—and you were supposed...
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5 Reasons Why Donor Portals Make Donors Happy
The phrase “responsive fundraising” is a powerful way to express the attitude nonprofits should have towards their donors.  For me, responsive fundraising is a big part of fundraising according to the Golden Rule.  Cultivate donors the way you’d want to be cultivated as a donor.  We all want...
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Apple isn't about making boxes for people to get their jobs done
What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done—although we do that well…we do that better than almost anybody in some cases.  But Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core…it’s core value—is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for...
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Stop keeping score
To increase our happiness, we need better questions than “What accomplishments should be on my scorecard?” Let me suggest a few that will lead to answers that can deliver authentic well-being. 1. Who has the intrinsic characteristics that I admire and want to emulate? 2. What do people most need from...
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A pale blue dot
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.  On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their...
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Spring is coming
“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” – Pablo Neruda
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Change requires action
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” —Max DePree
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Literally
“Literalism is the lowest, least fruitful level of meaning.” – Richard Rohr
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Donor Personas 101
No two donors are alike. That’s what makes them special—and what can make it difficult to connect with each one of them in an authentic and relevant way.  Donor personas are the tried-and-true tool you need to raise more donors by respecting these beautiful differences. When you sit down to write copy...
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The love of wisdom
Philosophy means, in Ancient Greek, the love of wisdom. But the word wisdom can sound very big and forbidding; what does it really mean to be wise? And how might we consciously strive to be a little wiser? A great video from The School of Life.  Don’t watch it with the idea that this is the definitive...
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The Shaker Design Philosophy
“Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.” – The Shaker Design Philosophy
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The difference between knowing and learning
This is comedian Pete Holmes giving what I think is a brilliant (and hilarious) take on the difference between knowing and learning.   I’ll stretch it a bit further and say that I think he provides great perspective on how the journey through which we gain knowledge is where we find wisdom....
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A small step taken now
“Success will never be a big step in the future; success is a small step taken just now.” – Jonatan Martensson
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In a 1000 years time
Take all fiction and religion books and destroy them.Take all science books and facts and destroy them.In a 1000 years time …
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The value of urgency
To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. – Leonard Bernstein
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Creating Effective Annual Reports After an Insanely Chaotic Year
It’s the beginning of a new year, and normally that means you’re coming back to the office to put the final touches on your donor annual report before sending it out. But 2020 wasn’t a year that anyone expected. For many nonprofits, 2020 was like a car spinning out of control on the ice. So you might...
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Get Technology Out of the Way of Storytelling [Part 2]
At RaiseDonors, the big question we ask ourselves is not how we can make our technology cooler. Our big question is how do we make our technology so good that it gets out of the way of your fundraising. When technology gets out of your way, you have more time to do the things that will really drive...
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Get Technology Out of the Way of Storytelling [Part 1]
Believe it or not, RaiseDonors isn’t just about technology. 😊 Our focus is built right into our name: raising more donors for your organization. We just happen to use technology to help you do that. Ironically, our primary way of using technology is to get technology out of your way. When you’re...
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Premiums and Online Giving
The holidays are coming, so let’s talk about gifts. Should you offer a thank you gift or “premium” in exchange for an online gift? Find out here. Whether or not fundraisers should offer donors thank you gifts or “premiums” has been argued about for decades. In 2012, an article from the Yale School of...
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Avoid Abandoned Online Gifts
Online fundraising depends on several things, but few things are as important as building trust. That’s why branding your donation pages is a must. Here’s how to do it. At first, you might think that the ability to customize your RaiseDonors donation pages with your unique nonprofit branding, colors,...
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Actions > Feelings
“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.” —Pearl S. Buck
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Listen to understand
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Stephen Covey
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Black lives matter
I say “Black Lives Matter” because “all” didn’t cover Black when they said “All men are created equal.” I say “Black Lives Matter” because “all” didn’t cover Black when they said “With liberty and justice for all.” I...
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The question of violence
Ava DuVernay shared this important and powerful video on Twitter: “Take time to listen to this short lecture by Gary Younge. He does a strong job of contextualizing the current moment. A primer on this week’s news for those who need. There are triggering images, so take care of yourself as needed.”
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Doing leads to becoming
“Be as you wish to seem.” —Socrates
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Did my gift even matter?
Anything you do that potentially leaves a donor asking—“Did my gift even matter?”—must be avoided at all costs.   Always over-communicate gratitude and impact.  
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Why I love Han Solo
In a world obsessed with light and darkness, Han Solo lives in the grey.  But what I love most is that when courage was required—he was a loyal friend and let that love guide his choices.  
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The meaning of being
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
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The first enemy and the last
“I don’t think it’s our purpose to understand. Except one thing — we’re soldiers. We have to know what we’re fighting for. I’m not fighting so some man or woman I barely know can sit on a throne made of swords…[I’m fighting for] life. Death is the enemy. The first enemy and the last…The enemy always...
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What it is to be young
“Youth can not know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it is to be young.” – Albus Dumbledore(Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, “The Lost Prophecy”,Chapter 37)
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The greatest danger
“The greatest danger for us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
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Adjust your sails
“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Dolly Parton 
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The best portion of a good life
“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” – William Wordsworth
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Seven bits of wisdom
“1. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have―musician Bob Marley. Amen.   2. You make the most money in bear markets; you just don’t realize it at the time—investor Shelby Davis. Some of my best changes were in recessions.   3. The heights by which great...
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Jim Collins on motivating people
“Don’t first sell people on a vision.  Confront the reality (the facts).  Don’t decide first and then appear to discuss.  Have a true dialogue, then decide.  Don’t make progress toward the goal invisible.  Show progress, make it obvious.” – Jim Collins
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Tips to Increase Giving Incentive for Donors
Every donor who gives to you has an incentive that motivates them. But can you add incentives to raise more donors? Let’s take a look at the research. We’ve looked at the research behind giving motives and how you can increase giving desire in your donors. In that conversation, we discussed the interior...
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Removing Friction from Nonprofit Donation Pages: Part 2
Removing friction from your nonprofit donation page is the top priority as it improves the chances that you’ll raise another donor for your cause. Here’s another kind of friction that you should be on the lookout for as you optimize your pages. As donors work their way through your content, there’s a...
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Removing Friction from Nonprofit Donation Pages: Part 1
Friction is anything that causes psychological resistance to a given element in the donation process. The more friction you have on your donation pages, the less likely it will be that your donor will choose to give. Therefore, our work is simple. Remove the friction in the giving process. But that isn’t...
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Walking through the Crisis with your Donors
RaiseDonors isn’t just a technology platform for nonprofits. It’s a philosophy. It’s a way of thinking of your donors as partners in a common cause, where you care more for the donor than the gift. The RaiseDonors philosophy shuns short-term thinking and even shorter-term results. The RaiseDonor’s way...
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Pass it on
“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” – Oscar Wilde
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The annoyance of a good example
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” – Mark Twain
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Good for something
“Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau
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The temporary vs permanent
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mahatma Gandhi
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It's you I like
“It’s you I like, It’s not the things you wear, It’s not the way you do your hair But it’s you I like The way you are right now, The way down deep inside you Not the things that hide you, Not your toys They’re just beside you. But it’s you I like Every part of you. Your skin, your eyes, your feelings...
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Fundraising During a Crisis
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a growing threat to nonprofits that rely on public events to drive fundraising. But your nonprofit doesn’t have to be a victim! Here are some thoughts on how to fight coronavirus with giving.  The reality of the dangers posed by the Coronavirus are unavoidable. ...
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Fighting the inertia of everything in your life
I’ve been having a lot of conversations about the idea of Responsive Fundraising. In a nutshell, responsive fundraising puts the donor at the center of fundraising and grows giving through personalized donor journeys that respond to the needs of each individual. It’s part tactics and part philosophy. ...
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Live Free, a poem
Sometimes I’m goodSometimes I’m badI’m not only husbandI’m not only dad Sometimes I’m wrongSometimes I’m rightSometimes I’m peaceSometimes I fight Sometimes I’m falseSometimes I’m trueYou let me be meI let you be you We share in this giftOf our various facesWe are who we areIn all various places We give...
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4 Ways to Increase the Desire to Give in the Mind of a Donor
Success in online fundraising depends on your ability to increase the desire to give in the mind of your donor. But how do you do that?  Our research has revealed four reliable ways. While it’s simple to connect the dots between an increase in desire to an increase in how much is raised—it’s...
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The priority of things that matter
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Seize the day
“Either run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn
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Can a small tweak to your donate button increase gifts by 190%?
One of the most powerful ways to increase online donor conversions is also one of the most obvious: put a donate button on your homepage! Here’s how. When someone lands on your homepage, what do you think is the most common question they have on their mind? Well, the answer is it depends on how they...
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A metaphor for life
“Adorable video shoes five-year-old Phoenix take on his belt test at Bobby Dixon’s American Martial Arts Academy on May 6 in Orlando. The video clip picks up after all the other students were able to break their boards. Phoenix struggles to get his board to break, growing increasingly frustrated....
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How Many Donation Pages Do You Need?
A donation page can’t be everything to everyone. That’s why you need multiple donation pages. But how many donation pages do you need? One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make today in their online fundraising is putting up only one donation page. After all the work of getting a donation page up and...
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What you get vs what you become
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar 
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The full cost of a low price
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” – Ben Franklin
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Tips for GivingTuesday
Started in 2012, the GivingTuesday movement hasn’t slowed down at all. In fact, the total amount of money raised in 2018 was $400 million! If you aren’t completely aware of what GivingTuesday’s all about, it’s an internationally organized giving event set on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday...
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Just keep saying thank you
“In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
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The Difference Between Giving and Buying
Are you designing your donation pages just like you would a landing page for a product? It’s time to rethink what makes donation pages work. Many of us in the nonprofit world come from a for-profit background. Typically, this is a huge advantage. It’s a good thing that you don’t lose all the wisdom and...
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What money can't buy
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others’?” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
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The value of together
“The most meaningful experiences in our lives are rarely done by ourselves—or—for ourselves.” – Me in a moment of lucidity. 
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Everything starts with priorities
“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” – Tom Northup We’ve all been to websites that create a meaningful connection. Websites that leave you thinking, “I wish...
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