Iain Bernhoft

Iain Bernhoft works as Managing Consultant in American Philanthropic’s Writing and Communication Department, where he helps to write, edit, and oversee our writing engagements and materials.

In addition to his several years of writing direct mail, grant proposals, and collateral fundraising material for our clients, Iain has over a decade of experience teaching English, writing, and rhetoric at various universities in New England. His writing has appeared in Modern Fiction StudiesThe Cormac McCarthy JournalCommonwealPhilanthropy Daily, and various journalistic outlets.

Iain holds a Ph.D. in English from Boston University. He works out of Providence (the one in Rhode Island), where he lives with his wife and their two sons.


It’s not about you

Who shows up more in your fundraising copy, you or your donor? Here’s how to check your pronouns.

proposal
From boredom to the boardroom: winning hearts and minds through grant writing

It often seems like foundations want boring proposals. But remember: a proposal is a story masquerading as a spreadsheet.


LOI
Courting communications: how to craft a successful LOI

Foundation officers are coy—and busy. Here’s how to craft a successful LOI to capture their attention in the brief time that you have.

Compelling communications and the curse of knowledge

Why is it so hard to effectively communicate my point? Perhaps because you know too much. Here’s how to step back and strengthen your donor communications.


Localism and its discontents

Localism is attractive today—but that’s often localism as a form of consumerism. True localism is demanding.

election, donor, votes
Messaging donors while the votes are counted

We’re all biting our nails thinking about the election. Don’t forget to be in touch with your donors.


Toward a recovery of philanthropy

Impersonal donor communication is harming nonprofit success and growth. On the latest Givers, Doers, & Thinkers, Jeremy Beer and Gabe Cooper discuss how nonprofits can be more “responsive” to donor interests—and make their work more interesting in the meantime.

jonathan haidt
Righteous minds: America in disarray

Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” offers insight into why we disagree with each other and how we might better communicate. Late in 2020, it is an important book for Americans who are seeing the “lesser angels” of their compatriots.


seattle flu study covid-19
Swabless in Seattle

One thing we can learn from the coronavirus crisis is the importance of local initiative to manage even major problems. Centralization leads to “fragility” which does not respond well to disruption, whereas smaller, decentralized initiatives tend to be “antifragile”—more nimble in the case of volatility.

philanthropy storytelling for fundraising
The importance of storytelling: the dollar in the details

It is essential to use stories to cultivate donors, raise money, and strengthen your organizations. Here are tips on the details and tone you should employ in your writing.