Postalgia Blog

Should You Ask For Donations When Saying Thank You?

By: Ilan Mann

June 10, 2020

“Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.”  – Sir Winston Churchill  Recently a friend remarked that she doesn’t like cats, because they only show you affection when they want something – food, attention, etc… Dogs, on the other hand, may be driven by the same innate motivators, but they are less transparent in their self-interest, and so their affection seems credible,…

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Call Me Maybe (But I’d Rather You Didn’t)

By: Julean Burger

May 12, 2020

If you were to ask Millennials or Gen Z (defined as those born between 1980 and the early 2010’s) how they feel about receiving phone calls, they would likely rank the experience as one of the biggest inconveniences you can thrust upon someone. It’s a notable difference between generations, one that I especially notice with my father, who calls me several times during the day with small pieces of information that could easily be delivered over text – and while…

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Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Metrics

By: Ilan Mann

May 11, 2020

Mark Twain popularized (and attributed erroneously, ironically, to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli) the adage that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. This week, my brilliant friend Jason shared with me a piece in The Correspondent entitled The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising. He in turn got it from Dr. Michael Burry’s twitter feed (of Big Short fame). It’s important to me that everyone receive their due credit for bringing…

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Opportunity Knocks… And then Mails

By: Ilan Mann

April 30, 2020

Politics has changed drastically these last few decades in so many drastic ways, it’s tempting to pinpoint one or the other as the secret to a candidate’s success or failure: For Obama it was allegedly the use of social networks, for Trump it was supposed to have been his use of spectacle to dominate the media narrative, etc… One thing that is clear, going back to Teddy Roosevelt’s use of the whistle stop, FDR’s mastery of radio, Kennedy’s understanding of…

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The Illusion of Transparency

By: Ilan Mann

April 29, 2020

The illusion of transparency is one of the most common causes of misunderstandings and missed opportunities  between people, between companies and their customers, between nonprofits and their donors, etc… The illusion of transparency is on display any time you say or hear thing like “you know what I meant,” or “how could you not understand how I was feeling?” Here’s one of my favourite games to illustrate the illusion: Find a partner, and as obviously as you can, but without…

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Getting Out The Vote with Handwritten Mail

By: Ilan Mann

April 28, 2020

Suppose that you are running for class president, and there are 100 eligible voters. If all the voters have to vote, your job is to persuade 51 of them to vote for you. Suppose that your opponent is popular amongst 60 of the eligible voters, and you have the support of 40. You really have your work cut out for you! That is how we usually think of politics – in terms of persuasion. While that may be the nature…

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Write a Personal Donor Birthday Card in 7 Seconds

By: Ilan Mann

April 23, 2020

Dear Samantha, Congratulations on turning 58 years young!  I wanted to wish you a happy birthday on behalf of myself, Sandra, and all of us at The Riverdale Hospital Foundation!  I hope this birthday is extra meaningful for you with the knowledge that you’ve had such a huge impact on our neonatal care program.  Hoping to see you at our hoops for heart fundraiser in June!  Sincerely, Jerry P.S. Please give my best to Craig and Emily!    Imagine composing…

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“The Things We Think and Do Not Say”

By: Ilan Mann

April 21, 2020

At the beginning of the great sports movie Jerry Maguire, the eponymous sports agent, in the throes of a night of inspiration, writes a mission statement, called The Things We Think and Do Not Say, and distributes it to all of his colleagues. In it, he proposes a radical idea: actually caring about their clients. If for whatever reason, you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favour and remedy that. It will have you at “hello.” Most of the…

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The Nonprofit Stewardship Cycle

By: Ilan Mann

April 20, 2020

Just as customer engagement is becoming an increasingly important metric for profit-driven businesses, donor stewardship is playing a larger role than ever in nonprofit management. The “why” of retention, loyalty, and donor engagement should be obvious to most, but in case anyone needs convincing, I’ve discussed some of the reasons here, here, and here. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals report, the donor retention rate in the US was 45.1%. That means that in the US, at least, you…

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Part Five – Jumping Off A Bridge

By: Ilan Mann

April 18, 2020

This is part five of an ongoing series about consumer behaviour. You are strongly encouraged to read at least part one here and part two here before reading this post. You can also read part three here and part four here. System one and system two evolved for reasons that may not appear obvious to us, but are apparently deeply rooted in what it took to survive for most of human history. System 2 can develop theories around the best…

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Part Four – The Extra Large Medium

By: Ilan Mann

April 16, 2020

This is part four of an ongoing series about consumer behaviour. You are strongly encouraged to read part one here, part two here, and part three here before reading this post. Thinking Fast and Slow, the seminal book by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman about his work with his late research partner, Amos Tversky, is full of mental tricks, riddles, illusions, and “ah-ha” moments designed to make you question whose side your brain is really on. In the first chapter, he…

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Part Three – The Availability Bias and Priming in your Mailbox

By: Ilan Mann

April 15, 2020

This is part two of an ongoing series about consumer behaviour. You are strongly encouraged to read part one here and part two here before reading this post. Let’s recap a few insights: We don’t have the mental capacity/energy to focus on doing every task slowly and methodically. That’s why we evolved a system for quickly making everyday complicated calculations without overloading our brains. That system calculates things inaccurately, but usually within the ballpark. Those calculations usually manifest as feelings,…

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Part Two – The Irrational Consumer

By: Ilan Mann

April 14, 2020

This is part two of an ongoing series about consumer behaviour. You are strongly encouraged to read part one here before reading this post. If all of your customers were perfectly rational, and could instantly calculate with a high degree of accuracy the trade-off between the value you are providing, and the price that you are asking in return, all of marketing would be as simple as the following: Find the people for whom the value is highest Communicate that…

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Part One – This is Your Brain on Loyalty

By: Ilan Mann

April 13, 2020

This is part one of an ongoing series about consumer behaviour. What follows may seem like an esoteric or purely academic post in a blog that is normally about marketing, but nothing could be further from the truth. Traditional marketing focuses on the customer or client as a self-interested, rational consumer, and expresses value to them strictly in those terms: Goods and Services (Value) in exchange for Money (Price) Which is why most advertisements are expressed in one of the…

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Keeping Your Friends Close: Retention, Retention, Retention

By: Ilan Mann

April 10, 2020

Like most suburban kids, I never really understood the proverb, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Why is a bird in the bush worth anything? A bird in the hand sounds like a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Is the bird a pet? Is it a friendly bird? I was not envisioning a friendly bird. As unattractive a prospect as “a bird in the hand” sounds, the lesson that the proverb is trying to…

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5 Tips for Writing a Personal Letter

By: Ilan Mann

April 9, 2020

A few years ago, a client of ours – a large charity – goofed up and sent a handwritten thank-you card to a donor, and another to her husband, for the same pledged donation. Instead of a negative response, they got a grateful phone call from the first-time donor, who told them how much they appreciated being thanked individually, but that the nonprofit organization should feel free to send one tax receipt and one copy of all future communications for…

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The Bus that Nearly Flattens You

By: Ilan Mann

April 8, 2020

You’re jogging across an intersection when a city bus turns the corner a little too fast. You jump out of the way and narrowly avoid being run over. Okay – I’ll admit that it’s a morbid beginning for a blog post about marketing. But if it’s jarring, it only further illustrates my point. There is a pervasive fiction in the marketing world that marketing materials are subject to a law of increasing returns. This is sometimes represented as some variation…

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How to Catch the Attention of a Goldfish

By: Ilan Mann

April 7, 2020

If commonly cited statistics are to be believed, it’s a miracle that you clicked on this article. If it took you more than 4 or 5 seconds to read that first sentence, I can’t be expected to hold your attention to the end of this one. If you’ve made it to this – the third sentence – it was nothing short of a herculean effort that got you here, because according to conventional wisdom, average human attention spans are down…

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Turning Donors and Customers into your Fundraisers and Salespeople

By: Ilan Mann

March 1, 2020

Every fundraiser or salesperson knows that the easiest people to turn into donors and customers are already part of their network. A lot of the reasons why prospects are hesitant to buy or donare, or why they stop donating and buying, are mitigated by them knowing you personally. Your passion is contagious, they hear from you often, and they trust you – so they trust that their money is in good hands or that they’re getting a good product. But…

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Why Donors Stop Donating

By: Ilan Mann

February 16, 2020

Donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, and their value cannot be overstated – but it can be calculated. Many fundraising and nonprofit professionals like to think that their job is different and distinct from that of people who work in sales and marketing – and in some ways it is – but the truth is that like any other business, your non-profit cannot survive without its customers: your donors. And just like any other business, your average donor’s…

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Why Thanking Your Donors is So Important

By: Ilan Mann

February 13, 2020

I am always shocked to hear non-profit professionals tell me that they don’t thank their donors. The logic goes that people open their hearts and wallets to charities and non-profits because they want to help a good cause, and doing so is enough reward in and of itself. While it’s true that selflessness and a drive to better the world is the primary motivator of many gifts, fundraising professionals who take that approach will notice their donor base dwindling, and…

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How to be Great at Gratitude – 5 Tips for Brilliant Donor & Volunteer Thank-you Cards

By: Ilan Mann

February 10, 2020

So you’ve decided to send thank you notes to your donors and volunteers. Good call! There are few combinations of words more powerful than “Thank You.” Letting someone know that their gifts or deeds not only contributed to a good cause but also inspired personal gratitude in the recipient is the simplest way to ensure that they feel unreservedly good about the time or hard-earned dollars that they’ve parted with. Now that you’ve decided to undertake this simple but important…

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