First Thing Tuesday

One Paradigm Shift in Fundraising that Says it All

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured | 10 comments

One Paradigm Shift in Fundraising that Says it All

If we could change our collective thinking in just one way, we would all raise more money – and not by just a little bit. That shift in thinking goes like this:   Donors give because they want to.   It sounds simple and intuitive, but it’s not, and we tread all over this idea all the time.   Instead we make decisions based on what’s easier, or cheaper, or more efficient, or more convenient. We fail to personalize appeal letters (it’s WAY more work to match envelopes to letters) We let days or even weeks go by without sending...

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How are You Doing on that Diversity Goal?

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Board Development, Featured | 0 comments

How are You Doing on that Diversity Goal?

We’re giving a lot of lip service these days to the idea that our boards should look more like our communities. For nearly all of us, this represents a near Herculean task (to pull a white male metaphor out of my bag). But what would doing so actually look like? I worked with a land trust recently who set out to change their all-male culture into one in which at least 40% of their Board members were female. The Executive Director was proud of the fact that they had recently succeeded – seven of their fifteen Board members were now female. It...

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Should We Raise the Minimum Gift for Our Top Donor Society?

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured, Membership | 6 comments

Should We Raise the Minimum Gift for Our Top Donor Society?

Over the weekend, Julie S. posted the following question to the Land Trust Alliance Learning Center: Because our land trust and budget have grown significantly over the past ten years, we would like to raise the minimum gift for our top donor society which currently starts at $1,000. The vast majority of our top donors are stuck at this $1,000 entry level and we’ve had trouble moving them up. The one and only tangible benefit of being in this society is an invitation to our annual top donor society. We are considering raising the...

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What is a Qualified Major Gift Prospect?

Posted by on Mar 13, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured | 1 comment

What is a Qualified Major Gift Prospect?

I’ve made a big deal in the past about the word “major” modifying the word “gift” and not the word “donor.” (It’s not a large donor. It’s a large gift!) And I’ve made the case that every donor is capable of making a major gift – for them. It’s not how big the gift is in absolute terms. It’s how the donor decision gets made – is this a major decision for them? As organizations, we talk about major gift donors against some arbitrary threshold – like $250 or even $1,000 – but we use it more as an internal term used to identify people for...

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Reasons and Methods for Donor Screening

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured | Comments Off on Reasons and Methods for Donor Screening

Reasons and Methods for Donor Screening

Well-Meaning Tom: The Screening meeting was actually kind of fun! I did what you recommended and got the Board members talking about it and then just sat back. They owned it! DA: That’s great! Screening should help you prioritize your donor stewardship. Well-Meaning Tom: Of course, our Board being our Board, they changed the whole process from what you recommended. I think the end result should be the same, but the process is changed up. DA: Uh oh. Changed up how? Well-Meaning Tom: They didn’t want everyone reviewing the 1,500 names at a...

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Winning the Land Trust Lottery

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Featured, Plans and Budgets | 2 comments

Winning the Land Trust Lottery

I just checked and the Powerball lottery is in that unimaginable range again – multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. More than enough to change my life, it’s enough to blow my life completely into another galaxy. It’ll never happen, but it’s fun to fantasize. Truthfully, it is much more likely that your land trust will experience a transformative windfall than it is that I will win the lottery. A windfall that has the potential to change your organizational life. Furthermore, unlike the lottery, you can dramatically improve the odds with...

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Sustainable Organizations Teach Financial Literacy

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Board Development, Featured | 2 comments

Sustainable Organizations Teach Financial Literacy

I have long been critical of Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices, because they focus too heavily on policies and compliance and too little on sustainability. It’s fine that you have a conflict of interest policy and that you monitor each of your 35 conservation easements every year like clockwork, but having only six Board members and 100 members is a problem. It’s not sustainable. Compliance with minimum standards of land trust behavior is critically important, but organizations feeling that everything is hunky dory because they...

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Adaptive Management and Membership Models

Posted by on Feb 6, 2018 in Featured, Membership | Comments Off on Adaptive Management and Membership Models

Adaptive Management and Membership Models

For the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the five-year value of new members. How much is a New Member Worth? The 45% Percent Solution. I’ve received data points now from eleven different organizations. THANK YOU! to all who have participated. The range of experience is from $139 to $817. The median is about $400. The question I’d like to explore this week is so what? The thing about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or metrics is that the exercise of collecting the information is not the point. Using information to modify your behavior is....

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The 45% Percent Solution and Other Ideas for Improvement

Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in Featured, Membership | 1 comment

The 45% Percent Solution and Other Ideas for Improvement

I started last week’s post with a request. In preparation for a possible Rally presentation, I asked you about the value of your membership using one simple calculation: First, isolate the members and donors you have who made a first gift to your organization at some point – any point – during the calendar year 2013. Now add up what that group has given to your organization – as a group – since then. Send those two numbers to me – the number of donors and the total amount they have given. The email address is David (at)...

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How much is a New Member Worth?

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in Featured, Membership | 1 comment

How much is a New Member Worth?

I want to start this week’s post with a request. Land Trust Alliance has published its presenter deadline for the 2018 conference as February 20th. I’d like to do a session this year about the value of membership, and investing in building membership. You can help, and I’m asking that you do. Here’s what I need: First, isolate the members and donors you have who made a first gift to your organization at some point – any point – during the calendar year 2013. Now add up what that group has given to your organization – as a group – since then....

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