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Tom Ahern

Recent Posts by Tom Ahern:

How Quickly Should You Thank a New Donor?

Research has shown that first-time donors who receive a personal thank-you within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again. Yes, thanking in 48 hours equals a 400 percent improvement in renewal rates.

First-time donors are ardent, as I discuss in my book, What Your Donors Want ... and Why. But that ardor cools fast if you don't sustain it. It's like a campfire ignited by match from tinder. It blows oxygen across an ardent new donor, keeping that small flame alive, excited by your mission, your vision, and your potential in their lives.


The Closely Held Secret to Communicating with Your Donors

Communicating with donors consists of just three basic activities, as I explain in my new book What Your Donors Want ... and Why!


Five Ways to Keep a Donor’s Eyes Glued to What You Write

If you as a fundraiser are disappointed with the results of your writing, here’s one thing I can promise. You could be doing much better. There’s only one thing standing in your way.

You.


Using Stories for Fundraising

Which approach raises the most funds:

  1. A well-argued appeal that explains the problem and offers statistical proof, or
  2. An emotional appeal that tells a sad story?

In short, which is better?

Answer: stories


Offers Wanted (in Donor Newsletters)

Excerpted from Making Money with Donor Newsletters

Sprinkle offers across your newsletter. Offers give your donors new things to do.

Like discover: "What's it really like to be desperately poor? Sign up for our Poverty Simulation. See for yourself why it's so hard to break the cycle." (Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, N.C., makes this offer.)

Like grow: "You can be the mentor that changes a child's life."

Like contribute in a new way: "Join us in this special campaign to. ..."


The Questions I'm Most Often Asked About Donor Communications

I speak to thousands of fundraisers every year, at conferences around the world. And the question I hear most often is a plea for help: "How do I convince my boss?"

Fundraisers might well be the most second-guessed professionals in the world.


Most People Skim. Few Read Deep.

Excerpted from Making Money with Donor Newsletters

Watch your own behavior the next time you pick up the newspaper.

You browse first. If you find something of interest, then you start reading. And even then, you often read no more than a paragraph or two before jumping to another story, unless you're enjoying a leisurely morning.

Same goes for donors.


The "Gillette Miracle"—How a Hospital Foundation Increased Giving to Its Newsletter by 1,000 Percent

Excerpted from Making Money with Donor Newsletters

I gave a workshop on newsletters.

People from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota, attended. Their donor newsletter, mailed quarterly to 20,000 people at that point, racked up an annual net loss of $40,000. Was there a better way, they wondered?

Something amazing happened post-workshop: giving to Gillette's newsletter increased 1,000 percent (not a misprint), after a few changes.


Are You Boring Your Donors? Interview with Master Nonprofit Communicator Tom Ahern

Tom Ahern, author of Seeing Through a Donor's Eyes, How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money, and Raising More Money with Newsletters Than You Ever Thought Possible, recently spoke with his publisher about how to craft more effective donor communications. GuideStar has published several pieces by Mr. Ahern, and we're pleased to be able to share his additional thoughts with you.


The Dance of the Four Veils

Excerpt from Seeing through a Donor's Eyes: How to Make a Persuasive Case for Everything from Your Annual Drive to Your Planned Giving Program to Your Capital Campaign

For the most part, nonprofit communications are boring. Not on purpose, mind you. Still, they are almost always uninteresting, my vast exposure to them suggests. And why? Because they swaddle themselves in one or more of the following interest-draining veils.