How to Write Like a Nonprofit Genius and Motivate People to Join Your Cause 📣

How to Write Like a Nonprofit Genius and Motivate People to Join Your Cause 📣

DUA fundraising

I think you’ll enjoy this piece – especially if you’re a former (or current) teacher. It shows how far the theoretical disciplines we learn in school can be from the real disciplines we tackle on the job.

As someone who loves the written word this short blog resonates with me. Enjoy!



Join Jeff and Daryl in conversation and ask them the tough fundraising and communications questions as a free Moceanic Webinar on 27 June


By Jeff Brooks

Once upon a time, I was an English teacher. A guardian and promoter of our written language in its formal academic form.

Please accept my apology for the damage I did during those years.

I worked hard to teach my students specific rules about academic writing. At the time, it seemed like an uphill battle, even a hopeless cause. But some students were paying attention. Who knew?

Some of them are out in the world now, zealously enforcing the rules their college English teachers gave them.

A surprising number of those students who paid attention now work at nonprofit organizations. And they’re repeating the things I used to say.

The problem is most of those rules I taught don’t belong in fundraising. They are about as relevant and useful outside of academia as knowing how to dance the quadrille would be on a battlefield.

These former students are telling me things like this:

  • I shouldn’t use informal language.
  • My sentence fragments are sloppy.
  • My colloquial grammar an abomination.
  • Less repetitive.
  • More concise.
  • Smoother transitions.
  • Longer paragraphs, each starting with a topic sentence.

They believe my fundraising is defective if I start a sentence with a conjunction, split an infinitive, or use a cliché. Some of them even take their red pens to contractions. (Honest — I never told anyone to avoid contractions!)

Call it karma.

I’m just getting served up what I dished out.

The trouble is, effective fundraising writing rarely follows the rules we learned in English class. It has a specific obligation to motivate donors to give. And that means a different set of rules.

I’m not suggesting we forget everything English teachers said. They taught us how to write with vigor and precision. They showed us how using language helps marshal our thoughts. And they made us believe in revising our work.

But if your job is fundraising, your goal isn’t to please a teacher. It’s to get people to look past their self-interest, to tap into their inner angels and join you in changing the world. That’s a tall order. It’s much trickier than pulling down an A in English Lit. And it requires a different approach to writing.

I’m grateful for the education I got at university. But it’s just as important to un-learn those things that lead you away from success as it is to get educated in the first place.

Here’s to smart un-learning.  And better fundraising!

Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has been serving non-profit organisations for nearly 30 years. A frequent speaker at fundraising conferences, he blogs at and at, and is the author of three books, most recently How to Turn Your Words into Money.



How the right metrics drive growth: What you need to know! by Emily Bracken

How the right metrics drive growth: What you need to know! by Emily Bracken

Conferences DUA fundraising

Emily BrackenDirector – Strategy & Analysis at Daryl Upsall & Associates, is going to talk in the next anual Congress of the Spanish Fundraising Association which will take place in Madrid  12-14 June.

If you can not answer the following questions, then come and learn!

Do you really know how well your fundraising programme is performing?  Are you investing in the right channels that will bring long-term net income to support your organisation’s mission?  To create a higher return on investment, every part of your programme must be correctly measured and evaluated.  We will share practical tools that can be applied across all channels, and show you how to use data to develop a clear picture of progress against objectives.  Highlighting real examples from leading INPOs, you will learn how to ensure that your fundraising goals are supported by effective measurement and analytics.




How a “gifted writer” figured out fundraising…read on…

How a “gifted writer” figured out fundraising…read on…

Conferences DUA fundraising

Hi folks

I thought you’d enjoy this short piece about how one professional fundraising communicator overcame a significant barrier to succeeding as a fundraiser. As someone that has been in the profession for some 35 years it’s a journey many of us can recognize!




Join Jeff and Daryl in conversation and ask them the tough fundraising and communications questions as a free Moceanic Webinar on 27 June

How One “Gifted Writer” Finally Figured Out Fundraising

By Jeff Brooks

When I landed my first fundraising job at a small nonprofit 30 years ago I thought I was the bee’s knees. I was regarded as a gifted writer as a student. After university, I went into teaching English. After a few years, I grew weary of the teaching treadmill. So, I found a job as a fundraising writer.

I couldn’t wait to apply my writing skills to raising money for causes that were desperate for funds.

But I got a shock.

The writing style I’d developed through college and into teaching was sophisticated, complex, clever, poetic. And it didn’t work in fundraising.

I found the “better” I wrote, the worse the results got.

My lowest point came when I had written a letter that I was convinced was brilliant. I told myself I had finally got it right and that donations were going to flood in.

They didn’t. The piece failed spectacularly.

At that point, I felt like walking away from fundraising and going back to teaching. Which was pretty much like throwing in the towel.

Then something happened that saved my fundraising career and truly changed the course of my life.

Someone came to my rescue.

An experienced fundraiser and writer took the time to mentor me. He beat the heck out of my copy. He never let a single syllable of my brilliant writer BS get past him.  He told me this:

Like a lot of writers, you are obsessed with making your writing beautiful. You need to ease back on that. Beautiful copy doesn’t move the needle. Instead, get obsessed with response numbers. A writer who’s focused on the numbers will always do better than an artsy-fartsy writer who focuses on beauty.

It wasn’t an easy change, but I shifted my approach. My writing got simpler and clearer. I stopped sounding like the music of the spheres and started to sound like a human being. And my results got better and better. My career took off.

You see, the science of fundraising often tells us the complete opposite of what seems like common sense. I want to ensure that you don’t fall prey to the misinformation out there – there’s a lot of it.

And it’s costing many organisations thousands of dollars, euros, pounds – and stopping the flow of funds to causes desperately in need of help.

The solution is twofold:

  1. Don’t use your own likes and dislikes to guide what you do in fundraising. (In fact, your likes are probably a counter-indicator of what will work!) This takes a lot of discipline.
  2. Get as educated about what works in real-life fundraising as you possibly can! Read the books. Follow the blogs. Go to a conference now and then. Attend webinars. The resources out there are many and powerful — and they can take you to that same transformation that I eventually found.

Being aware that your instincts can lead you so badly astray is the first step. Many non-profit professionals never get that far. You can!

Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has been serving non-profit organisations for nearly 30 years. A frequent speaker at fundraising conferences, he blogs at  and at , and is the author of three books, most recently How to Turn Your Words into Money.

Join Jeff and Daryl in conversation and ask them the tough fundraising and communications questions as a free Moceanic Webinar on 27 June

Daryl Upsall FInstF is speaking at the Swedish Fundraising Conference!

Daryl Upsall FInstF is speaking at the Swedish Fundraising Conference!

DUA fundraising Sin categoría

Daryl Upsall FInstF is speaking at the Swedish Fundraising Conference, in Stockholm on the themes of innovation, trends, leadership and fundraising integration. He gave the opening presentation to 300 fundraisers and non-profit CEOs on Tuesday on “Fundraising Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World”.

Following this he ran a workshop on “Face to Face Fundraising Today – Crisis or Evolution?” and then facilitated a discussion with Swedish NPC Chief Executives on “Leadership in a Changing World”. Today he will deliver the closing conference plenary on “A World Tour of Fundraising Innovation.”

It does not stop there for Daryl,  as tomorrow he will be running a full-day Masterclass on “How to develop a fully integrated fundraising programme” before heading back to Madrid on Thursday evening for much needed rest!

More information.

SOFII speaks your language

SOFII speaks your language

DUA DUCI fundraising

Have you heard of SOFII? Sofii – Showcase of Fundraising Innovation & Inspiration  is a charity created by fundraisers for fundraisers. Providing inspiration and information to thousands of fundraisers around the world. For Free.

Thanks to some rather brilliant volunteers they have a selection of case studies and articles in different languages. They have just added some new content for our Spanish speakers translated by Alhelí Quintanilla, from Daryl Upsall Consulting International.

You can reed it here:


Join me in New Orleans, USA for the AFP International Fundraising Conference

Join me in New Orleans, USA for the AFP International Fundraising Conference

DUA fundraising

Daryl Upsall  FInstF will be speaking on Fundraising Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World at the AFP International Fundraising Conference next Tuesday 17th of April. Can not miss!

Why Attend The 2018 International Fundraising Conference?

Supercharge your professional development with more than 90 total education sessions over 3 days to choose from, covering all aspects of professional fundraising and nonprofit management

Get inspired by two riveting general session

  • Opening Keynote Panel: Building Resilient Communities
  • Closing Keynote Speaker: Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative

Reconnect with friends and expand your network of fundraisers and industry vendors with unparalleled networking opportunities

Gain entrance to key social events for fundraisers, including the Welcome Reception on the evening of April 14.


More info here

“Whole lotta shakin’goin on” by Daryl Upsall FInstF

“Whole lotta shakin’goin on” by Daryl Upsall FInstF

DUA fundraising

We strongly recommend that you check out the latest Spring edition of Advancing Philanthropy published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This edition highlights the power of fundraising to positively impact upon communities and bring about lasting social change.

To read the new digital issue, click here:

You might also within the latest edition check out my humble contribution Whole lotta shakingoin on and find out more about the rebels, renegades and pioneers of fundraising that have transformed the profession over time.

Read, enjoy and rise up to join the struggleViva la revolución siempre. Viva el fundraising!


Letter from the Land of the Rising Fundraising

Letter from the Land of the Rising Fundraising

DUA fundraising

The numbers from the Japanese Fundraising Conference are as raw as the delicious sushi and sashimi that sustained me during my recent four days sharing with my Japanese fundraising colleagues: record of 1560 conference attendees, 999 certified fundraisers and all built from zero in just 8 years.

Masa Uo, Japanese Fundraising Association CEO and his excellent team of staff and volunteers have made it all happen in a country when even the legal and constitutional status of a non-profit organisation (NPO) was not formalised until 1998 when lawmakers ratified the “Act on Promotion of Specified Nonprofit Activities”, known as the “NPO Law” today.

Culturally, fundraising and philanthropy has existed in Japan, like most societies has existed in some form for millennia, in the case of temples, monuments, cultural and educational institutes as well as in the family context. However, professional, organised and systematised fundraising is relatively new in Japan. When I started working in Japan in the mid-1990s with Greenpeace Japan there was only one exceptional role model to learn from, and that was UNICEF Japan.


It was then only an average UNICEF NatCom raising some $20m per annum from selling cards and gifts and cash collections. Once, veteran direct marketing fundraising expert Richard Pordes, also teaching at the 2018 conference, introduced UNICEF Japan to direct mail fundraising in 1992, something magical happened. The Japanese public responded to cold direct mail appeals sent from UNICEF HQ in New York, USA at an unbelievable 14%. Such impossible results anywhere else in the world catapulted UNICEF Japan to the top of the UNICEF fundraising charts. It has not looked back since.

Since then, only Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) both supported by Pordes after his retirement from UNICEF, have consistently had very significant success in securing mass philanthropic support from the Japanese public and consistently set the barrier for other national and international NPOs to aspire towards reaching.

What is holding Japanese fundraisers and fundraising organisations back from greater success? From the newly qualified Certified Fundraisers we celebrated at a special evening last Friday, to the highly engaged debates and mentoring sessions that my international fundraising colleagues Kyla Shawyer, CEO of the Resource Alliance and Alan Hutson, Monument Group participated in, its seems there are several interconnected factors at play.

The very fact that the conference began on a Friday evening and closed on Sunday evening and that many delegates had paid their own conference fee already says a great deal about how the leadership of many NPOs see fundraising and their fundraisers. Professional development is only permitted in fundraisers, very limited, free time and not something their organisation is inclined to invest in.

Public understanding of “what is an NPO?” and “what is fundraising?” is little understood in Japan by the public or even my most educated and internationally minded professional Japanese friends. Indeed, most people think that the national or local government provide all services they receive, that poverty does not exist in their country and even NPOs are fully funded by the state.

At the conference opening plenary discussion, I shared the platform with a retired, very senior and charismatic former Senior Executive of the Mitsubishi Corporation, who was now President of the prestigious Tokyo University, one of Japan’s oldest universities. He told me he was shocked how hard it was to raise funds for the institution, especially as the state was now cutting its funding and despite him having access to some of the most powerful business leaders in Japan!

“Empathy” was a core theme of this year’s conference and the need to build both mass public empathy for NPOs and donor/supporter’s greater empathy of the causes they donate to was high on the agenda. However, a secondary undercurrent was the need for greater “empathy” within the sector and profession. Over long working hours, lack of holidays, poor pay and conditions, lack of professional and managerial support/understanding and expectations by bosses of high levels of income with low levels of investment were cited as common ailments infecting the Japanese fundraising sector.

Furthermore, a certain culture of “fear of failure” in NPOs and the investment to test, fail, test succeed, learn and then follow through seemed to be a common challenge for fundraisers and hence the stifling of not only innovation but even the testing of already proven fundraising techniques and channels that were working elsewhere in Asian and beyond.

During our time listening to and discussing with fundraisers their concerns, it became clear that there was a desperate need for more mutual support and solidarity among fundraisers themselves through informal “special interest groups” where they could meet to share problems and find common solutions and for mentoring by more experienced fundraisers that had survived and thrived over the years.

What was truly inspirational for me as the Japanese Fundraising Conference 2018 came to a close was how completely multi-generational is the “new wave” of Japanese fundraising as high school children were awarded for building a major campaign to educate their parents and community of the importance and power of fundraising; how retired high level former corporate executive were gaining their qualifications as a Certified Fundraiser and how young, successful social media entrepreneurs were focusing their skills on supporting NPOs and fundraising.

Additionally, fundraisers need more access and awareness of how they can learn and be supported by the global fundraising community even though being more aware of websites and blogs such as SOFII , The Agitator, 101 Fundraising and the innumerable fundraising discussion groups on LinkedIn

Given the amazing energy, enthusiasm, hunger for knowledge, desire to succeed, passion, humanity and above all “empathy” that I and my international colleagues experienced from the fundraisers we met at the Japanese Fundraising Conference 2018 conference these last few days it is only a matter of time before that breakthrough moment happens for fundraising to truly take off and reach its true potential.

In Japan there is a very special collective hand-clapping applause that is used to close celebrations. I encourage all fundraisers to put their hands together for our Japanese fundraising brothers and sisters!

Daryl Upsall FInstF
Chief Executive
Daryl Upsall & Associates SL
Daryl Upsall Consulting International SL

Chinese take away: reinventing fundraising in the People’s Republic of China

Chinese take away: reinventing fundraising in the People’s Republic of China

DUA fundraising

For his contribution to this year’s IWITOT (I Wish I’d Thought of That), our CEO and fundraising expert Daryl Upsall looked to China, a rapidly emerging market in so many ways, including fundraising, and shared his thoughts of what all fundraisers could learn from such a unique environment.

Read the full article here: