Tracy Vanderneck

Tracy Vanderneck

Tracy Vanderneck is president of Phil-Com, a Florida-based training and consulting company where she works with nonprofits on fundraising, board development and strategic planning. Tracy has more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, business development and sales. She holds a Master of Science in management with a concentration in nonprofit leadership and a graduate certificate in teaching and learning. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and an Association of Fundraising Professionals Master Trainer. Additionally, she designs and delivers online fundraising training classes and serves as a Network for Good Personal Fundraising Coach.

Beware of the ‘Cult of Personality’

The term “cult of personality” tends to conjure dramatic images of political or religious leaders influencing the masses. It seems grandiose and powerful. Cult of personality has varied definitions, but they all basically boil down to this: The situation that arises when an individual person gains intense loyalty from a group of people from the sheer force of his or her personality...

Why Is Fair-Market Value So Difficult?

I had a math teacher in high school who, when asked questions about the basic rules of algebra, would answer, “It’s algebra. You don’t question why, you just do it according to the rules laid out.” A similar process is used when assessing and reporting Fair-Market Value—if a donor receives something from a nonprofit in exchange for their charitable donation...

Does the Nonprofit Industry Have an Employment Problem?

Doesn’t it feel like the employee turnover rate in the nonprofit sector is unreasonably high? It sure seems that each time I talk to a nonprofit organization, the person who used to be my contact is no longer there. It can be frustrating for volunteers and donors to deal with what feels like a revolving door of staffers...

Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Development Plan

You wouldn’t leave your house and drive your car aimlessly hoping you’d eventually find your great aunt Marge’s house in Tucson, even though you’ve never even been to Arizona. So as a nonprofit professional or volunteer, why would you just start doing random things to try to raise money for your organization and hope that the outcome is enough money?...

Nonprofit Communications: You Don't Have to Have All the Answers

Many of us, especially in business settings, are afraid to admit we don’t know something. We worry that it is a sign of incompetence or weakness. I disagree. Actually, I believe that when you don’t know the answer, owning up to it is important to establishing trust with your coworkers and clients, the media and your donors...

Overtime Pay or No Overtime Pay? What Nonprofits Are Doing (And What Should They Do?)

The new overtime regulations may be implemented or repealed in the coming months. How will nonprofits handle the situation if the regulated overtime pay is no longer required? If they have implemented an overtime-pay-for-extra-work model, how do they then undo it without crashing employee morale and inciting the mass exodus of disgruntled employees that could follow? I talked to several nonprofits to see how they have been preparing...

7 Red Flags Board Members Should Watch For

Federal and state governments (and nonprofit watchdogs) don’t take ignorance of a regulation as an excuse for not following it. It is up to each nonprofit to stay informed. And the board of directors plays a major role in that. So, what red flags can board members look for to help spot areas in need of attention? There are many, but here are seven things that can have a big impact...

Writing Winning Direct Mail Appeals

Conversations with a few clients have led me to believe that if you ask 10 different development professionals what makes a good appeal letter, you will get 10 different answers. What really makes a good appeal, though, is its ability to connect people to how they can make an impact in an area they care deeply about. Here's how you can write one that does just that...

Does It Matter Why People Give?

Why would the answer to, “Does it matter why people give?” ever be "no"? Because from a nonprofit professional’s perspective, it is not our job to judge people’s motivations for giving. It is our job to be the vehicle that enables a donor’s or volunteer’s gift of time or money to support the important work of our organization...

Gun Raffles, Beer Pong and the Great Pumpkin: Why You Need a Gift Acceptance Policy

Anyone who has worked as a fundraiser or the executive director of a 501(c)(3) organization knows it is, for the most part, smart to keep your political opinions to yourself in the nonprofit realm as well. There are a number of reasons for this; at the risk of oversimplification, I’ll boil it down to the benefit of neutrality...

Extravagance in Fundraising: How Much Is Too Much?

There are several schools of thought in fundraising. The first two are polar opposites and the rest are somewhere on the continuum in between. In fundraising, as in life, extremes are usually, well, too extreme...

Personal Gift or Charity Donation? Crowdfunding and the Orlando Attack’s $7.5M GoFundMe Phenomenon

Crowdfunding has changed the face of disaster/emergency fundraising. It offers a way for people worldwide to offer monetary assistance to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is hosted on platforms that the nonprofit does not have to own or run, thus taking away a lot of logistical details that can bog down an emergency response. But crowdfunding brings with it a new set of challenges to be addressed...

Meet Donors Where They Are

I once worked with an 85-year-old philanthropist who liked to communicate by text. Forget everything about seniors avoiding technology. Forget that some of our elders believe that email and text are a rude replacement for good, old-fashioned conversation and letters. This particular octogenarian liked to text because it was hard for him to hear on the phone...