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How Are Your Donors Feeling About You Right Now?
January 19, 2017 at 10:08 am

Today, are your donors feeling like they made a mistake by giving to you? If so, it could be because too many nonprofit organizations have forgotten that the donor experience goes beyond taking a donation and doing wonderful things with it. It has to loop the donor back in—not just ask for another gift. It needs to tell the donor what he or she is making possible...

Who Are You Visiting Today? Relationships Need Measuring, Too
January 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

It is important to be metrics-driven in fundraising. Yes, fundraising is relationship-based, but it is vital that metrics, including the number of visits and the number of asks, be included in goals and performance reviews. This is not just for accountability—it is a very useful tool of focus for the fundraising professional...

7 Strategies Every Nonprofit Should Master in 2017
January 18, 2017 at 9:24 am

Last year, I gave you five priorities for success in 2016. I called them “Dive the Five.” This year, I’ve expanded my thinking a bit. I give you “Seven is Heaven.” I promise if you focus on these fundamental areas, you will hear the angels begin to sing and your mission will take wing. Some of these areas will seem familiar, but the way you employ them may need to be tweaked in order for you to survive and thrive...

Child CEO Brings Light to Darkness—by Accident
January 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

The first time I understood that I did not sell stuff was when a client said, “I need to buy some X,” and I asked “why?” She stopped with her hand in the air. She stayed there a bit. Finally, she said, “I can’t answer that.” For any decision you make, ask yourself why you made that decision, and whether anybody needed to make that decision. Rinse and repeat until you get to your true purpose...

Innovation and Excuses: They Go Hand in Hand
January 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

As an industry, I think we have trouble innovating. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about our desire and ability to test. We love testing. We love setting up objectives, stating hypotheses and looking at things from a statistically valid perspective. Most of those tests are tactical, and when it comes to really moving the marble, those won’t work. What I’m talking about is strategy innovation, audience innovation or even brand-wide offer innovation...

Could You Write a Swimming Pool? Resources for Copywriters
January 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

Persuasive copywriting is just one skill in the fundraiser’s toolbox, but I’d argue that it’s critically important. After all, everything from your newsletters, to your fundraising appeals, to your grant proposals, to your online campaign, to your website, stems from the written word. It’s a skill-set that you should be honing on a regular basis. How? Here are a handful of my most-relied upon resources...

Events, Major Gifts and Moving From Transactional to Transformational
January 16, 2017 at 8:55 am

I was recently talking to Susan, a development director for a regional nonprofit, and she was lamenting that she had another gala to put together. Even though this gala takes an enormous amount of time and effort from the staff, the executive director and the board want to keep it going because it brings in almost half of their revenue each year. Susan wasn’t upset about all the time and effort it took to pull it off each year, but the fact that the revenue generated by the event was really in transactional gifts, not mission-oriented gifts...

Unpacking the Myth of an Industry Without a Product: Nonprofit Product Innovation at PBS, WWF, USC and 826 Valencia
January 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm

The development world is acutely aware that some people will never give. Naturally, we assume these non-donors are of no value to our organization. The reality, though, is that we’ve just presented them with a stimulus that does not match their expectation to take the desired action we request. They may never respond well to being asked for money, but we might be able to come up with something that would work better—if we could get past the idea that philanthropy is a sector without a product...

Employee Departures, Transition and Donor Retention
January 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm

We work in a world of transition. Each of us has gone through a number of job changes in our nonprofit careers. If we have served in a management role, we have also seen a number of employee transitions. A fact of life in our profession is that employees will come and go. And if not handled properly, these transitions can hurt your organization's donor retention...

A Case for Realistic Fundraising: 6 Things You Can Do
January 12, 2017 at 8:00 am

We all want to expand the work we are doing so we can make progress on our missions. But we need strategies, budgets and programs to make fundraising succeed. Simply saying “because I say so” isn’t enough. What can you do if you are facing unrealistic expectations?...

Gamification: Easy to Screw Up
January 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

The problem with gamification is that often it turns into a pay for play system, rewarding fundraisers for behaviors, instead of reinforcing in fundraisers the idea that they love fundraising for their nonprofit. How can we avoid this?...

Top 10 Things Smart Fundraisers Will Be Doing in 2017
January 10, 2017 at 11:31 am

I can’t believe 2017 is already here! Are you ready for it? Is your fundraising ready for it? How will you be increasing fundraising revenue and strengthening donor relationships this year? Learn what smart fundraisers will be doing—and download a free 2017 fundraising and marketing calendar!...

Ask Prospective Donors These 8 Questions
January 9, 2017 at 8:40 am

Most fundraisers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about making the case for their organization. But a far more productive undertaking is to get to know your major donors—particularly why and how they want to give. Find that out and you’ll have a sense of what you should ask them for and…

How Events Hurt Major Gifts—And What to Do About It
January 9, 2017 at 8:00 am

What is it about nonprofit boards, leaders and staff who so easily catch events fever and lose their way on thinking objectively about this topic? If that sounds familiar—if hardly any argument or reasoning will dissuade your leaders from organizing an event—then make the best of it by doing the following...

Attracting 'Big' Philanthropy in a Changing Landscape
January 6, 2017 at 12:32 pm

The philanthropy pie is growing, but the slices are getting bigger. Those slow to the table are going to be left hungry. The evolving behavior of philanthropists will also require an innovative approach from the nonprofit organizations and leaders that seek their investment. Focusing on improvement and activity in three key areas will best position nonprofits to win in an increasingly competitive market...

Fundraising and the Unpredictable Struggle
January 6, 2017 at 11:26 am

We are behind in our Christmas fundraising efforts. From a seasoned fundraiser perspective, nothing weighs more heavily during the holidays than the stress of that simple fact. It is now my job to create the plan of attack for the next nine months to achieve the fiscal year fundraising goal, which will not be easy. When others in need depend upon your success, you constantly strive to seek solutions...

Make the Most of 2016's Gifts to You: These 3 Donors
January 5, 2017 at 9:57 am

No matter how you feel about 2016, it’s now in the rear view mirror for fundraisers (except those who are frantically working to receipt the donations that were made or mailed before the clock struck midnight and 2016 faded into the past). But every nonprofit organization has three gifts from 2016 that are filled with potential for 2017—if only you take advantage of them in this new year...

Millennials Shmillenials: Working Together for One Cause
January 5, 2017 at 9:08 am

Impact is not achieved by one person, one Millennial or one donation alone. Impact happens when you tap into the collective power of your donors. When we stop treating Millennials as an isolated entity and unite them with givers of all levels and sizes, we, in turn, empower them to actualize that long sought-after impact—even on a $50 donation. Because with the strength in numbers of tens of thousands of Millennials giving just $50, the impact is both unparallelled and accessible...