Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet? If you’re like me, you’ve probably already made five and broke three (40% ain’t bad ... right?). But in case you’re different than me (and, for your sake, I hope that's the case), what about this one: Be a bit better in 2014.
Not by leaps and bounds, but bit by bit. And not in just one area of your life, but across your life. Wouldn’t you be a better person? Wouldn’t you have a better year?
Now, what if you applied that to your fundraising? What if you tried to get just a bit better across things like retention, acquisition, brand awareness, customer support, communications, etc.? I can almost guarantee that if you and your organization improved in a variety of areas, you’d be better off.
So ... how do you get a bit better in 2014? Well, one way you can do so is by reading and learning. I know I’ve personally grown a ton through managing my own blog, re: charity, and constantly reading and learning from others when looking for inspiration.
With that in mind, here are seven blogs you'd be wise to follow this year if you're looking to bolster your fundraising efforts.
7 Blogs Fundraisers Should Follow in 2014
1) Future Fundraising Now
If you want an official education in fundraising, there are a number of schools that offer degrees and certificates. If you want an unofficial education on fundraising, though, read this blog.
The runner of this blog, Jeff Brooks, who is also the Creative Director at TrueSense Marketing, has a background in direct mail, copy, and strategy. His Future Fundraising Now blog is one of the best pure fundraising blogs you’ll find.
He's not afraid to call 'em like he sees em (for example, check out this post featuring what he deems stupid nonprofit ads) and does a great job of curating other great fundraising and related blogs on the web.
A "new-school" fundraising blog from some Californians, this blog leans toward online giving, social media, and peer-to-peer fundraising. StayClassy is great at giving you ideas and tips, offering useful ebooks and downloads, and drawing from real-life experiences and case studies.
The world of charity and fundraising has changed a lot in the past 10 years, and StayClassy’s team does an excellent job of keeping up with what’s current and what’s next. As someone who specializes in those areas (online and social fundraising), I can say these folks know what they’re talking about.
How can you be more productive? Why are bad habits so hard to break? How does the brain process visuals? These are the types of questions the 99U blog asks. While they may not be typical "fundraising" questions, you as a fundraiser will be much better off after exploring this well curated site.
In addition to having loads of great content from a variety of different people and viewpoints, the blog's aesthetic/layout/design is top-notch. You should expect nothing less from the folks at Behance. And when beauty and brains combine, it makes for an excellent blog-viewing and reading experience.
A great and innovative fundraising software product, in a market that is desperate for some innovation, that also has a great blog. With the product’s focus on donor retention and data management, you get a lot of expert tips, stats, and how-to’s around those topics without getting battered over the head to sign up and buy their product.
It’s not just about data management on Bloomerang, however. Increasingly, the blog is covering digital and curating the web for useful infographics and videos. It also offers some great free and on-demand webinars and ebooks to provide even more concrete help for those in need.
5) Seth Godin
When I read one of Mr. Godin’s posts in the morning, I find I have a better day. If that’s not a good reason to follow this blog (if you don’t already), then I don’t know what is. His gift is making the complex simple -- and simple can be powerful.
Godin covers all kinds of topics -- he even produces some nonprofit-specific posts from time to time -- but the emphasis is on marketing ... which is fundraising. If you follow only one marketing blog this year (beyond a fundraising one), this should be it.
An aggregate blog from the various companies, products, and people at Blackbaud, this is a premier, one-stop source for a variety of information. npEngage offers you nine different sections within the blog, ranging from analytics to nonprofit management.
The blog's reach in the industry is immense, which gives its benchmarks, studies, and reports a lot of weight and credibility. If you want to get a pulse of where things are at in the nonprofit world, then this blog may be perfect for you.
A smorgasbord of intriguing tidbits and news for the tech lover (and even those in search of tech info). With a bunch of different contributors from consultants, advisors, and practitioners from across the sector, NTEN is where you want to head to get your nonprofit technology questions answered.
NTEN has some easy-to-digest posts for beginners, provides some nice blog series' to let you dive a bit deeper, and even offers 100+ page guides for those who want to nerd out on nonprofit and tech. All in all, this is a prime resource for the sector, when it comes to technology.
I consider this to be a top-of-the-line list to get you going with nonprofit and fundraising blogs, but these are by no means the only blogs for you to read and follow in the months ahead. Beth Kanter’s blog, The Agitator, and our Ideas Blog at Peer Giving are also great ones, for example, that can help you improve in 2014.
The point isn’t that there is an exact formula to becoming a better fundraiser or marketer or that there’s some secret sitting in a blog post out there that you have to uncover. The point -- and my hope -- is that you have a new or renewed focus to get better this year, and reading blogs and discovering other people’s thoughts is an awesome and simple way to do that.
What's on your blog reading list? Any good nonprofit- and/or fundraising-related blogs out there you enjoy reading regularly?