impact stories blog

Impact at The Copy Clinic

The October year-end appeal season is one of the busiest times of the year for fundraising professionals. But it all comes down to writing effective copy that achieves results. On October 17th, Impact’s own Kathy Swayze, CFRE and copywriter Barry Cox were the lead copy doctors who shared their expertise on effective fundraising copy during a half-day Copy Clinic workshop hosted by DMAW.

These copy doctors were joined by a team of some of the best pros in fundraising direct marketing. Nearly 50 fundraising professionals were on hand for this interactive and hands-on training. The copy doctors addressed some of the most common fundraising pitfalls that lead to poor results from mailings. During the first half, attendees were given a walk-through of best practices and expert tips on delivering strong copy, treating sick copy and producing healthy results. The second half of the session included group exercises and a one-on-one consultation with a copy doctor for a checkup on samples of their own copy.

Attendees were highly engaged, and the workshop design made for great peer networking.  They took away valuable techniques for crafting an effective case for giving and concrete steps for a successful campaign.


-Cicely Sharpe




“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou




Photo credit: Saint Sabina Photos Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 


Take My Blood! Direct Mail Inspiration Just in Time for Halloween

I’ll admit, it had been awhile since I stopped by the Red Cross to donate blood. But when I got this package in the mail, it didn’t just remind me to schedule a donation—it reminded me of some important direct mail techniques.

Here’s the package, followed by four reasons why it’s effective:



Why this package works:

1) Urgency: There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to the need: “There simply aren’t enough people donating blood…doctors must make difficult decisions.” “Who would you choose?”

2) Personalization: I’m a past donor, so they don’t just know my name and address, they know my blood type—and tell me why they need it: “Your type O negative blood is especially critical to patient care. O negative blood is the type doctors reach for in emergencies when there just isn’t enough time to test a patient’s blood type.” I feel so special, you guys!

3) Demonstrated impact: They provide three short sample stories representing real situations patients face that call for blood transfusions. The accompanying photos feature eye contact, always good for provoking an emotional connection.

4) Clear call to action: “Schedule a blood donation.” Done!

The week before Halloween, I finally got around to donating. (No vampires were present!) Thanks to the Red Cross for the chance to feel good about giving back—and for the creative inspiration!

-Julie Price, CFRE


























Spooky photo credit:ℒaura Tou Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 



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#WednesdayWisdom: Storytelling

“Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire and ultimately, connect us.”

-Robert Redford




Photo credit: Marco Verch Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 



#WednesdayWisdom: Determination

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Barack Obama


Photo credit: Barack Obama Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 


Always remember when planning your fundraising communications strategy, she is not YOUR donor. You are one of HER charities. – Mark Phillips, Bluefrog Fundraising

Photo credit: Nguyễn Phát Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 


Does Your Nonprofit Accept Bitcoin?

The Impact team recently met with Patrick Duffy and Alex Wilson from The Giving Block. After hearing them speak at the Bridge Conference, we decided it was time for our team to learn more about this cryptocurrency craze. We learned a lot from these dynamic entrepreneurs and we asked them to share some insights for our readers. We hope you enjoy their article below.  

What is Cryptocurrency?

The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was launched in January 2009. Since then, many more cryptocurrencies have popped up like Ethereum (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC). A cryptocurrency is a digital peer-to-peer currency that uses cryptography for security, preventing counterfeiting. Built on a distributed blockchain ledger, it is maintained by a decentralized computer network, not a central authority, rendering it immune to manipulation by any single entity that does not control at least 51% of the network.

How Many People Use Cryptocurrency?

Estimates range from 40M to 50M active cryptocurrency users. Consider for a moment that there have only been 24M Honda Civics sold since 1972. Or that there are only 25M active Fitbit users.

 Should Nonprofits Accept Cryptocurrency Donations?

We recommend that all nonprofits consider at least the basic step of adding a crypto wallet to their website. In addition to the revenue potential, crypto fundraising is a powerful marketing tool for nonprofits. The mere act of opening a crypto wallet can generate buzz. (search: “lupus foundation cryptocurrency”)

Why Do People Donate Cryptocurrency?

People who use crypto want to use it multiple ways, including donating. Plus, the IRS classifies crypto as property, like stocks, so when you donate crypto, you avoid paying capital gains taxes. If you convert that crypto to cash before donating, you may pay upwards of 30% in taxes. If an organization is not equipped to accept cryptocurrency, crypto donors will go elsewhere.

How Much Cryptocurrency Has Been Donated?

Over the last two years, hundreds of millions of dollars of crypto has been donated to nonprofits. Here are some of the largest examples:

  • Pineapple Fund: This anonymous person or group of people donated ~$56 million in Bitcoin to 60 charities.
  • Fidelity Charitable: Between 2017 and 2018, Fidelity Charitable received $100M in Bitcoin donations. In 2016, they raised just $7 million. What changed? In 2017, they implemented a targeted engagement of the cryptocurrency community.
  • Ripple: Ripple has their own cryptocurrency (XRP), and has donated over $125 million to charities over the last two years, including $75 million to universities, $39 million to Donors Choose, and $4 million to the Ellen Wildlife Fund (courtesy of Ashton Kutcher).

 To learn more about the potential of crypto fundraising, or to get started creating your cryptocurrency wallet, visit The Giving Block at


Photo credit: BTC Keychain Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 


Have You Recession-Proofed Your Fundraising?

The pundits are beginning to use the dreaded “R” word—recession. If you haven’t started thinking about how your organization will weather the next recession, now is the time.

The last recession, dubbed the Great Recession, officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. But nonprofit organizations continued to feel the effects for years afterward. Here are three ways to begin preparing now:

 1.  Anticipate increased need for your services.

When people are struggling financially, they turn to our nonprofit sector for help.

In 2011, the Nonprofit Finance Fundsurveyed 1,935 U.S. nonprofits. Most of the organizations saw an increased demand for their services in 2008, 2009, and 2010—with 77% reporting an increased demand by 2010. Throughout the recession, organizations reported being unable to keep up with growing need.

Especially if you’re a direct service organization, your community is counting on you—and they’ll turn to you even more during a financial crisis. Begin planning now for a spike in demand. How will you increase your staff or volunteer capacity to accommodate more clients? What financial resources and reserves are available? Are there other organizations you can partner with to scale up during a crisis?

  1. Fight for continued investment in fundraising.

 Having to cut budgets and reduce program expenses is always painful. During the last recession, many groups made across the board cuts to all parts of the budget—including fundraising expenses.

That’s the wrong approach. Spending less on fundraising precisely when fundraising just got a whole lot harder is misguided. It creates a downward spiral that ultimately creates even more of a crisis and further cuts to your programmatic work.

As our friend Mal Warwick said in an excellent piece in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “If the choice arises between cutting back slightly on programs or slashing the fundraising budget, you may shoot yourself in the foot if you opt for the latter. It doesn’t take long to destroy an effective fundraising operation— and then where will your programs be?”

Fight for your fundraising dollars. As a development professional, you provide the fuel that makes your entire organization work. And an investment in your efforts pays dividends for everyone.

  1. Don’t lose sight of how generous your donors are.

 We all know that philanthropic giving took a big hit during the last recession. According to a study out of Stanford:

“Total giving in 2008 fell by 7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, from $326.6 billion to $303.8 billion. In 2009, matters worsened, with charitable giving dropping another 6.2 percent to approximately $284.9 billion.”

Ouch. But here’s the other part of the story: when the recession hit, everyday donors saved the day.  Even as Americans tightened their belts financially, most kept giving to help others and some gave more.  That same Stanford study reported that giving to food banks in 40 cities rose by 31.9% from 2008 to 2009.”

 So, when recession hits, remember how generous your donors are. Reach out to major donors with specific requests to help you close gaps; add an additional appeal and tell donors you need them to dig deep in hard times. This is the precisely the reason you have donors. They will be there for you when you need them. Don’t be afraid to ask them to do more.

We’d love to hear from you about how your organization weathered the last recession. Just drop us a line, or post in the comments below.


Photo credit: Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license 



“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”


-Eleanor Roosevelt





There’s no greater gift than thinking that you had some impact on the world, for the better

– Gloria Steinem