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4 Lessons Learned From a Stalled Capital Campaign
February 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

A stalled campaign is NOT the time to sit back and wait until the money comes in. Unless you take a bold and clear initiative, your organization is likely to be left with a failed campaign, a big debt and a black eye in your community...

Use of 'Ask' Versus 'Results' Language in Major Gifts
February 20, 2017 at 9:58 am

All of us in major gifts know that there are different stages in the major-gift process. Many brilliant major-gift people have written about it. Words like identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship come to mind as descriptors of some big stages or phases of major gifts...

Indianapolis Club Rewards Perseverance
February 17, 2017 at 10:07 am

Each day we work hard to promote our specific organizations and promote our profession. Without a chance to view other organizational activities, this could lead to tunnel vision and singular focus. If you are fortunate, you will be able to witness concepts in our profession placed in action by other organizations also dedicated to enhancing our profession. I recently took advantage of an invitation to attend a special event, and I am very glad I did...

7 Tips for Building a Healthy, Happy Relationship With Your Vendor
February 16, 2017 at 10:45 am

This old dog knows that we fundraisers never work alone; we depend on others to help us accomplish our fundraising goals, so our organization can accomplish its mission-related goals. Treating our vendors fairly and with respect can be a small price to pay for a partner who is ready to pull us out when the floodwaters are rising and our survival seems questionable...

Maximize the Ask With Meaningful Eye Contact
February 15, 2017 at 11:38 am

If eye contact can prompt the purchase of cereal, what can meaningful eye contact mean when someone is sharing their passion about an opportunity to transform or save lives?...

How to Find the True Meaning of Fundraising? Keep a Donor-Gratitude Journal
February 15, 2017 at 11:17 am

It may sound hokey, but try to keep a gratitude journal. Not just any gratitude journal, but a donor-gratitude journal. Write down five things each week about why you’re grateful to your donors. You can be grateful to specific donors or to donors as a group. Just get in the habit of thinking about what you’re specifically grateful for...

Donor Compliance: How My Experience Inspired a Fundraising Epiphany
February 15, 2017 at 9:54 am

Gaining donor compliance is not new work. Nonprofits that recognize that our job is gaining donor compliance—that is a new idea. This idea is that we must embrace fully if we are to compete with other human hardships, faux fundraisers, radical hate groups and smarmy politicians of all kinds...

Don’t Write Off ‘In Memoriam’ Donors as One-Time Donors
February 14, 2017 at 10:01 am

There is definitely the tendency in our sector to write off “in-memoriam” donors as one-time donors, yet I think we must understand the emotional connection and make an effort to grow that relationship—with tact and in the gentlest, most-loving way possible...

Want to Increase Major-Donor Revenue? Embrace Discipline
February 13, 2017 at 11:14 am

Let me say this one final time. No discipline—no growth. Major gifts are all about staying focused on the plan and working it. This requires meeting consistently with a manager to discuss what has been done and what you will be doing to nurture relationships with your donors. Do this and you will be successful...

Fundraising: It’s a Call to Service
February 10, 2017 at 11:16 am

I truly believe the profession involving fundraising and nonprofit management is a calling. You must be honest, ethical, committed and dedicated to service before yourself. I am proud of being a fund raiser. Just like any profession, there are some members that give the profession a bad name, but they will come and go.

Be a Passionate Fundraiser: Don’t Let Donors ‘Melt’ Away
February 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

Passion is defined as compelling enthusiasm. Imagine if your donors simply oozed with excitement about the work you do at your organization (not just for the cause in general). How would they be different from the donors who just melt away, day after day, like the ice cube in the bowl?..

The Everyman Fear of Asking for Money: How to Leave It Behind and Embrace Opportunity
February 9, 2017 at 10:14 am

In my 30 years of involvement with philanthropy professionally, when volunteers and professionals think of fundraising, they almost invariably are thinking of that moment when an “ask” is made. Whether through the mail, email, social media or—the dreaded face-to-face meeting—the act of asking for money sends chills up the spine and tremors of fear through the limbs...

Change It Up: Why You Shouldn't Go to the Same Conference Every Year
February 8, 2017 at 11:18 am

When we attend the same conferences, see the same people and hear from many of the same people, we are not growing as much as we can. One of the things I love about our consulting practice is that we work with clients of all sizes and stripes. We learn from each engagement, which we are honored to work with...

Marketing Automation: It’s Not Going Away
February 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

Last week, this piece on marketing automation ran in the Huffington Post, pushing nonprofits to invest in marketing automation. I am here to beat the drum again, as it may be one of our most important conversations...

Are You Honoring Your Small-Dollar Donors?
February 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Your organization’s major donors are, after all, right in your backyard. Yep, they’re already in your donor database, and you just have to know how to work them. Here’s the 411: If you’re not honoring your first-time or small-dollar donors and if your systems are broken, you’re going to have a hard time getting from here…to there...

Donor Relationships: More Than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
February 6, 2017 at 10:06 am

When you fully embrace what I am talking about, you learn to focus on relationship and conversations versus getting distracted by the “yes” and “no.” You learn to take your time and nurture things along, to really value the donor and to really listen and care.

Fuel Your Capital Campaign by Saying ‘Thank You’
February 6, 2017 at 9:08 am

With the immediacy and ease of email, there’s no need to rely solely on formulaic thank you notes. You can send a standard thank you note with its more formal language, but I encourage you to pair it with an email, phone call or text message that makes a more immediate and personal connection...

Preliminary Report on Charitable Direct Mail Contribution Volume in 2016
February 3, 2017 at 10:39 am

As I have for four consecutive years, I’m starting 2017 off with a report on last year’s charitable giving volume. The analysis is based on 17 million individual direct mail contributions received in 2016 by more than 60 national nonprofit organizations. It encompasses six primary charitable sectors served by Merkle’s Response Management Group...

Donor Engagement: Invite Them, and They Will Come
February 3, 2017 at 8:35 am

The nonprofit world is all about time, talent and treasure. We all seek ways to engage others in our organizations, so we can build relationships with them. What we hope to get is a family member and, eventually, the whole family as part of your network. If you can orchestrate a way to capture one ‘s attention, the possibilities for further engagement are endless...