Pop Art Woman Glasses OMG
Boards and FundraisingTrends

Shocker: The Biggest Problem in Fundraising

You spoke, I listened, and you freaked me out a little!

I’ve been in the fundraising space for a long time — approaching 30 years. That’s enough time to get married, have a couple of kids, and raise them into productive adulthood. Which is exactly what I’ve done during that time.

I thought 30 years would also be enough that I could legitimately say, I’ve seen everything.

Turns out I hadn’t seen everything.

They past couple of days, I’ve been reading survey responses from our recent Contest to give away some of my time to deserving organizations in the form of free 90-minute online Coaching+ sessions. To get a chance to win a session, we asked folks to fill out a quick survey about their organization, including a description of the main issues they struggle with — and most need help on. Nearly 300 people took the challenge.

Here’s where it got interesting. The most frequently cited area of trouble was this:

Bosses and/or boards who don’t get it and won’t allow us to do effective fundraising.

Whoa.  Think about that.  Our biggest perceived problem is the people who are supposed to be leading and empowering us!

I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve been here long enough to know that bosses are often a problem.  I might have placed it in the top five problems.  Maybe as high as #2 or #3.

I know enough about surveys to know that lot of people saying something in answer to a question does not show us absolute Truth. The important thing as far as I’m concerned is that a lot of people perceive that their top problem is their boss.

So here’s my pledge to you:  I will help you overcome the “Boss Barrier.”  Either directly via our courses or Coaching+ at Moceanic … or indirectly because we’ll be talking up this issue and maybe get through to a few more people. Your own bosses, maybe!

Poor leadership is not unique to the nonprofit sector. (Oh boy is it ever not unique!)  But maybe we can tackle it here in our own backyard.  Let’s make it a priority.

Best wishes for non-interfered-with fundraising and we’ll be announcing the winners of the free 90-minute Coaching+ sessions later this week so stay tuned.

If you would care to share your experience with bosses and boards, please comment below!

Want some practical and experience-based help? Schedule a free 25-minute call  with one of our Moceanic Fundraisingologists. They will give you great free advice and help you identify which Coaching+ program might be right for you. Click here to book your call.
CFRE Points:
Pop Art Oops
Donor Psychology

“Sign the Enclosed Placenta”: The Weird Power of Errors in Fundraising

Don’t you hate making errors? They make you look and feel stupid.

But errors are funny things. It’s impossible to predict what damage they’ll do. Surprisingly often, they hurt your pride a lot more than they hurt anything else.

We here at Moceanic recently made an error, and we still feel a little sick about it. If you’re signed up for our emails, you might have noticed our error.

Boy did we feel like schmucks.

The outcome? We investigate. We work out the problem. We do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again (much harder when our email provider is responsible for the error). We apologize.

Some of you may have been annoyed by it.

But our unsubscribe rate stayed at the low level it’s usually at. And some people take the time to write to us to tell us there’s a problem. Thank you!

With mistakes like this, we always send an apology. That apology email often results in almost as many clicks or responses than the first, and sometimes even more!

Twice the result!

Which is often how it goes when you make errors. Especially when you apologize.

Since I know you like to gloat about other people’s errors (well, I like to gloat, so I think you might also) … here are some examples of painful errors I’ve been part of through the years:

  • Two embarrassing typos: We meant to say, “Sign and return the enclosed placemat.” What we got was, “Sign and return the enclosed placenta.” Second: a “Fill the Pantry” campaign somehow became “Fill the Panty” (I’ve heard from quite a few people who have suffered this exact error!)

Result: No discernable difference in response from normal. A couple of donors sent back the errors (with their donation) pointing out the typos.

  • The unreadable newsletter: We produced a multi-page newsletter, and the printer failed to trim the paper correctly before mailing it. The tops of some of the pages were connected so the only way to read the inner pages was to tear them apart.

Result: The newsletter performed quite a bit better than projections.

  • Mixed up letter: To lower costs, we produced two direct mail pieces for two different clients using the same specifications. The printer got confused so that Client A’s letter had Client B’s page 2. And vice versa. Meaning everyone got letters that dramatically changed topic mid-sentence.

Result: The initial appeal for both clients performed as we’d originally projected. And a handful of donors called or wrote to complain about the error. Response to the apology letter was strong, better than the initial appeal. Meaning we more than doubled revenue to the project because of the error. (It was the printer’s fault so the apology letter was at no cost to us.)

So errors don’t necessarily kill you.

But I don’t want to give the impression that you can be cavalier and sloppy and just let the errors happen.

There’s a class of error that pretty much does kill you. That’s when something happens that makes it difficult or confusing for donors to respond. Like inserting the wrong return envelope. Or a dead link to the landing page. Or an incorrect phone number.

Those errors will get you, big time.


  • Not all errors are the end of the world.
  • Some, though, kind of are.
  • It’s worthwhile to apologize for errors.
  • Some errors are hilarious, even though they’re upsetting.

By the way, the team at Moceanic didn’t make this mistake on purpose to get more responses!

Care to share errors you’ve made or seen and the outcomes? Please comment below!

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A Moment of Change – From Jeff Brooks

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house is finally dropped to earth by the tornado, and she cautiously opens the door to see where she is? As the door opens, you see outside — and it’s blazing with saturated, bright color. And it’s only then that you realize the film to this point has been a sort of sepia monotone.

It’s a breathtaking moment of change.

And something like it is happening to me right now.

I have joined the staff and management team of Moceanic. 

There’s a lot to say about this, but be assured that there’s something in this for you.

Moceanic is a global company dedicated to helping smart fundraisers achieve their potential and raise as much money for their causes as possible.

And I’m thrilled to be here for you, because Moceanic is shaping up to be the standard-bearer of the Fundraising Tribe I’ve been proud to be part of for a long time: Fact-based fundraisers who believe in donor love. (The fact that you’re reading this tells me you’re probably a member of the Tribe also. This is where your opportunity comes in.)

For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a fundraising professional for almost 30 years. I blog at Future Fundraising Now, and I’ve written three books about fundraising.

I’ve spent most of my career at large fundraising agencies in the US. Agencies can be great places to work, because you work with very smart people, and serve a lot of different organizations. So you learn a lot about what works in fundraising and what’s happening in the industry. If you have any unsupported beliefs about fundraising (and we all do) — you’ll have them squeezed out of you working at an agency.

So it’s a little wrenching for me to walk away from that world. But Moceanic is different: Not an agency, not a specialist boutique. It’s more like a knowledge factory for fundraisers.

We do that in a few different ways:

Public online courses — basically media-rich webinars about fundraising subjects that are widely in demand. We’ve got some fantastic courses coming soon!

Bespoke courses — that is, custom-built training for organizations that want to improve their corporate knowledge and get everyone on the same page.

Coaching+ — a special way type of one-on-one training where we walk with you and guide you as you create great fundraising and you get even smarter.

Moceanic is a soulish company that exists to make the entire fundraising world more effective. And we’re doing it with a sense of fun.

Here’s where you get the chance to play with us at Moceanic: We’re offering a free 90-minute fundraising coaching session with me – worth US$995! All you have to do is fill out a simple questionnaire. We’ll choose two fundraisers for the free session.

Click here to get your chance for a free 90-minute online Coaching+ session with me. I hope to talk to you soon!

Thank you!

Jeff Brooks

CFRE Points:
OnlineGIving e1518671229440
Digital FundraisingTrends

Digital Fundraising Beyond Doggies and Dolphins

The Soi Dog Foundation and Australia for Dolphins have had enormous success in global fundraising using the digital ‘multi-step’ approach.

Although based in Thailand and Australia respectively, the two charities fundraised globally with shocking images, which helped them get traction.

soi dog foundation

But what about the rest of us charities? Well, we can learn from these superstars – they have both been very generous in sharing what they’ve learned.

In terms of ‘shareability’ mental health may at first feel like it sits at the other extreme – but Australian mental health agency Lifeline doesn’t hold back.

With the help of Pareto Fundraising they launched a campaign asking people to sign a petition, make a donation and become a monthly giver. I became a supporter too – they do a fantastic job and I used to work at a mental health charity.

Julie Kirby from Lifeline told me:

“The campaign has really resonated with the Australian public, and using Facebook and email to supporters has helped make two big achievements possible (our new phone support service Text4Good and new suicide prevention trial sites).

Working with Pareto Fundraising and Pareto Phone we were able to secure 1083 wonderful new regular givers and 827 new cash donors as well!”

Their latest great stewardship email is below.

email lifeline

A multi-step digital approach is a great option for many charities that need to find new monthly givers – with the added benefit of engaging lots of people beyond donations too.

If you are interested and needing a digital approach to find new donors and engaging lots of people beyond donations, then you need to watch this 9 min 30 sec video on Fast Tips for Fundraising on Facebook.

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Moceanic logo

Who Needs a Funny New Word? Well, You and I Do!

Moceanic: It’s about love, depth, and how together we are going to change the world by changing the way we do fundraising.

I’m really grateful to you for reading my articles.

It’s your comments, feedback, and participation that gave me an idea so big I can’t keep it inside!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

That idea: Moceanic. You may have already heard how this new company is going to change the way smart fundraisers get even smarter. But you probably haven’t heard the funny made-up word, Moceanic.

Well, fundraising is all about telling stories. So let me tell you a story. This story has no fundraising use for you – but I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time…

I’d been traveling.  A lot.  Then I had to make a sudden two-week trip to Europe.  Then three weeks in North America, with only four days between these trips back home in Australia.

All this without Christiana, my partner, who usually travels with me.

It was a really hard couple of months. There’d been a death in the family, and we were emotionally raw. Missing each other.

On the way home I had ten hours layover in Los Angeles, so I went to Santa Monica beach, not far from the airport. Even if you’ve never been to LA, you know Santa Monica beach, with its gaudy pier and preening sunbathers.  The sun was setting over the Pacific.

I got out my phone and FaceTimed Christiana in Australia. I asked her to go to the beach near our home and call me back.

A few minutes later, Christiana called me. It was noon where she was, more than 11,000 kilometres away. I looked at the setting sun and knew it was right over her head. So I faced that direction.

MapWe stood, our toes in the Pacific and waved to each other across an ocean so vast it staggers the imagination.

But we were standing in the same ocean, united by its life-giving water. With the help of technology, it was as if we face each other across a puddle in the garden.

This is what Christiana could see looking North East…


And this is what I could see looking South West. Christiana is directly under the sun but 11,535km past the Ferris wheel (7,168 miles).

roller coasterTwenty-one hours later I’d flown over the vast blue and was home.

With that image — the ocean that both divides and connects us, that sustains life on our planet and calms the soul of every human being who has stood on a beach and watched the waves that have travelled so far churn at their feet — with all that still huge in our minds — Christiana and I talked about the future.

Walking in the shallows, we talked about the webinars we had put on that year.

More than 1,000 people signed up for my ‘Three Secrets to Fundraising from Facebook’ webinar. In a couple of months, just over 3,200 people signed up to receive articles and information on learning from fundraising.

And fundraising experts Tom Ahern, Jeff Brooks, Rebecca Davies, Fiona McPhee and Roger Craver joined Kathy Allen and me in producing our first ‘series’ all about mid value donor fundraising. This attracted more than 250 people from 15 countries.

And the feedback was great.

We realised there is a need. A hunger for quality, focused experience-based content.  Aimed at fundraisers around the world who really get it and who are ready to go new places with their fundraising.

So we went for it.  We hired someone to help with marketing and someone to manage all the stuff I am no good at (lots of things). Christiana is setting up the tech and working on the content production.

Now we needed a name.

You know how brainstorming is. You come up with a lot of ideas. Some of them really cool. Others just plain bad. If you promise not to tell anyone else, here are a few we thought of:

Exitus Fundraising (Latin for outcome), CuddleComms (in brainstorming, there’s no such thing as a bad idea!), International Fundraising Academy (boring, sorry Roger), Hypatia Fundraising (she was an ancient-times mathematician), MAD Fundraising…

One day, walking along the beach again (we do that every day), Christiana asked me to identify words that described the ‘feeling’ of this new business I wanted to create.

I said, “Depth, change, practical, global, movement, inclusive, friendly, ethical, exciting, fun, easy, uniting.”  Perhaps the name had to have something to do with the ocean. But how?

That night we went to see Star Wars: Rogue One.  (It was awesome.)  As we walked out Christiana said, out of the blue, “Moceanic.”

Instant smiles.  Yep.  That’s it.

Moceanic was born.

How to pronounce it? I’ll let you decide. It depends on your accent.

I hope Moceanic will be part of your life, your calling, and your profession in the coming years.

Thank you for reading.


P.S. I told a little fib.  There is a fundraising application from this story after all. We are going to use Facebook to begin to create more of a community around fundraising learning.  You can help by checking out our new Facebook page… Moceanic on Facebook and liking it, please!  Oh, and any comments are GREAT!  Thank you so much.

P.P.S. Do you know other people who are in the “tribe” of smart fundraisers like yourself? Forward this email to them, or tell them about Moceanic. Our greatness will come from all of us together, our toes in the ocean, connecting across the horizon!


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