How to Land a $500 Million Donation: 5 Lessons From the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
December 13, 2013

While many nonprofits value small donations from givers, the data shows that up to 75 percent of an organization’s revenue comes from major donors, or individuals who give $1 million or more. But acquiring these types of donations can be challenging. It takes considerable time and effort, and many nonprofits still find it difficult to execute correctly. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) received a $500 million donation from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg last year.

Here are five top strategies gleaned from SVCF that fundraisers can use to land major donations and keep their nonprofit afloat.

Questions I'm Most Often Asked About Winning Foundation Grants
December 5, 2013

In my decades of running charitable foundations, I read tens of thousands of proposals. Many share the same characteristics I'll touch on below.

Since nearly all foundations are required to disburse some of their funds each year, grants are always made — to someone. Over the years, grant-seekers have asked me how they can increase their chances of being among the ones chosen.

Here are answers to the questions I'm most often asked …

A Simple, Smart, Easy Way to Raise More Money Next Year: 50 Asks in 50 Weeks
November 7, 2013

Are you disappointed with your fundraising results? If you answered yes, I'm pretty sure I know the cause — you didn't ask as often as you should have. Over the last few years, I've developed a simple, easy-to-follow method that will get you on track to raise much more money. The best part of this system is that anyone, even someone with your crazy-busy schedule, can use it!

The plan is called "50 Asks in 50 Weeks." That's it — an ask almost every week.

Branding Beyond the Logo
August 2, 2013

Many organizations continue to spend an inordinate amount of time, energy, human resources and money developing logos and taglines, believing they are creating their brands. Logos and taglines are simply banners for your brand. Your brand itself penetrates much deeper into your organization's culture and values, far beyond what any attractive icon or a few catchy words attempt to represent.

What follows are some tips to help you brand beyond your logo.

5 Things Your Board Can Do to Lead With Accountability and Transparency
July 19, 2013

Donors demand accountability and transcparency in today's philanthropy landscape. With that in mind, here are five things your nonprofit board can do to lead in that department: review and share organizational financials, condcut an annual assessment of your CEO, regularly assess your boards performance with a self-assessment, address issues head on, and lead with authenticity.

Using Outcomes to Measure Nonprofit Success
July 2, 2013

Those who donate to nonprofit organizations naturally want to feel their gifts will be used successfully in a way that will improve society or some part of it, like children, the sick, students, etc. But how can donors evaluate whether or not a charity will ultimately deliver on their promise or mission? In the nonprofit world, there is no common, easily understood measure of success. In fact, having a large positive bottom line may be an indicator that the organization is not doing as much as it could to fulfill its mission.

Launching a Campaign to End the Nonprofit Overhead Myth
June 17, 2013

My nonprofit friends, it’s time we changed the conversation about “the overhead ratio”: the percentage of your organization’s expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs. For too long, we’ve let a few bad apples confuse donors about what matters when judging a nonprofit. This confusion is actively harming the nonprofit community. Experts agree that many nonprofits should invest more in overhead, particularly administrative costs. You all know this as well as I do: You need to invest in your organization to be able to effectively serve your missions.

What Can Data Do for You?
May 23, 2013

For a resource-strapped nonprofit, taking on data analytics can seem like a monumental challenge. With the field of data analytics booming and salaries skyrocketing, attracting top-tier talent can take massive financial resources from organizations that may already be forced to make sacrifices just to operate. Second, without prior experience, it can be difficult to know what, if any, insights data can generate that would empower your organization to better achieve its mission. Here are some tips on how your organization can learn — and grow — from data.