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Why I Give So Much Away for Free

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Hands holding a heart shaped green leafAs many of you probably already know, when I first started examining the nonprofit space, I was baffled, dumbfounded, perplexed and confused.

If you don’t know my story, basically I was running a marketing agency for private/commercial businesses focusing on lead generation. One day I received an ill-conceived direct mail “ask” from a nonprofit whose cause I cared about deeply. It was so bad, I just had to help. And now, 8 years later I’m “all in” trying to help tons of nonprofits be smarter about their marketing efforts.

I was also surprised (alarmed is a better word) by the number of companies charging nonprofit staff lots of their hard-earned cash just to gain access to their wisdom. I saw a webinar that cost $195, a one-day course offered at $495, and multi-day events with a comma in the cost figure. Ouch!

Recently it was brought to my attention that these vendors are pretty upset with me. They are angry because I’m “giving the stuff away.”

My thinking is as follows:  This is a sector called “nonprofit.” Many organizations have tight budgets (to say the least). Nonprofit staff often settle for lower salaries because they care deeply about what they are doing and are willing to earn less. So why on earth would I charge money for webinars, conferences, books, CDs, and training?!?” In the end, we make money if people hire us and/or subscribe to our online software (SaaS – Software As A Service). And they’ll only consider doing that if we build trust by giving away lots of valuable information.

So there you have it. That’s why I give away as much as I can to nonprofits for FREE including:

  • Free webinars hosted by brilliant folks like:

Dr. Russell James (the foremost researcher in planned gift fundraising) who hosted many webinars and helped us develop tons of eBooks you can find here

Greg Lassonde (one of the top planned giving consultants in the country) who hosted our webinar Turning Myths Into Gifts

Richard Shapiro (“the” leader in Fortune 500 retention marketing… same as retention fundraising for nonprofits) who hosted our webinar titled Cracking the Code for Donor Retention: Lessons from the Fortune 500

  • Tons of FREE eBooks found here
  • And, of course, the blog you are reading right now which includes FREE tips and tricks such as:

How to optimize your planned giving inserts for results

How to use Facebook to promote planned gifts

How to reach out to major and planned giving prospects using LinkedIn

How to use crowdfunding to increase major gifts revenue

And more

We never pay our speakers. They do not work for MarketSmart. They don’t try to sell you stuff.
So, if you too are frustrated about the fact that so many vendors charge for their webinars and reports, I hope you’ll sign up to get my blog posts emailed to you about 3 times each week.  By doing so, you’ll also get notices about FREE STUFF including our webinars and eBooks.

Oh, and last thing…. If you feel that you are getting value from all of this FREE information… If you feel you got just one awesome nugget of information from us, then wouldn’t you want to share the good news with your friends and colleagues today? Why not invite them to sign up too? I bet they’ll be glad you did. 

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8 responses to “Why I Give So Much Away for Free”

  1. Greg,
    I have watched your posts over the last several months saying the same thing every time: This man knows his trade and he’s a saint. Nobody does everything for free but you play in the free arena quite a bit and folks like me take notice of it! I look to apply your concepts whenever possible. I host a few different Cystic Fibrosis events each year and already used your “Thank you” cards that you sent out gratis….so the thank you goes to you. I don’t work for the CF foundation – instead, I have CF so you can imagine how much I want to see a cure to watch my little girls grow up. It’s philanthropic business owners like you that make that increasingly possible.

    • Greg Warner says:

      Hey there Michael.
      Your reply actually choked me up. THANK YOU. The whole reason I got into this was to help find a cure for my wife’s illness— diabetes. You and I are “on the same page” for sure!
      I’ll continue to do all I can to achieve our mission. Here it is exactly as I wrote it long ago: To be the worldwide leader in providing major and planned gifts fundraising software subscriptions and marketing services that increase revenues for nonprofits while decreasing their costs.

  2. Greg,
    I have watched your posts over the last several months saying the same thing every time: This man knows his trade and he’s a saint. Nobody does everything for free but you play in the free arena quite a bit and folks like me take notice of it! I look to apply your concepts whenever possible. I host a few different Cystic Fibrosis events each year and already used your “Thank you” cards that you sent out gratis….so the thank you goes to you. I don’t work for the CF foundation – instead, I have CF so you can imagine how much I want to see a cure to watch my little girls grow up. It’s philanthropic business owners like you that make that increasingly possible.

    • Greg Warner says:

      Hey there Michael.
      Your reply actually choked me up. THANK YOU. The whole reason I got into this was to help find a cure for my wife’s illness— diabetes. You and I are “on the same page” for sure!
      I’ll continue to do all I can to achieve our mission. Here it is exactly as I wrote it long ago: To be the worldwide leader in providing major and planned gifts fundraising software subscriptions and marketing services that increase revenues for nonprofits while decreasing their costs.

  3. Greg Warner says:

    Oh… and just in case anyone is wondering about the pads Michael mentioned… You can get them for yourselves here for FREE (of course): http://imarketsmart.com/3-to-1-pads/

  4. Greg Warner says:

    Oh… and just in case anyone is wondering about the pads Michael mentioned… You can get them for yourselves here for FREE (of course): http://imarketsmart.com/3-to-1-pads/

  5. Doug Puffer says:

    Greg, your philosophy about giving it away has found an audience of very like minded individuals. In my experience gift planners are most willing to share their knowledge and experiences with anyone who asks or cares to listen. I have the tremendous advantage of working for a publicly funded university that encourages knowledge seekers in all disciplines to share what they discover. In return, I believe that I have a responsibility to pass along discoveries and experiences to benefit all of society but especially to organizations that can’t justify hiring specialists like me. All ships rise on the high tide. Kudos to you for caring to share your knowledge and experience from the private sector with organizations that need the help.

  6. Doug Puffer says:

    Greg, your philosophy about giving it away has found an audience of very like minded individuals. In my experience gift planners are most willing to share their knowledge and experiences with anyone who asks or cares to listen. I have the tremendous advantage of working for a publicly funded university that encourages knowledge seekers in all disciplines to share what they discover. In return, I believe that I have a responsibility to pass along discoveries and experiences to benefit all of society but especially to organizations that can’t justify hiring specialists like me. All ships rise on the high tide. Kudos to you for caring to share your knowledge and experience from the private sector with organizations that need the help.

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