First Thing Tuesday

No Fundraiser Left Inside

Posted by on Jun 19, 2018 in Featured, Staff Development | 4 comments

No Fundraiser Left Inside

Last year, my wife and I visited Scotland. The short version is that we landed in Glasgow, spent a week on the island of Arran off the west coast, and included three days on the island of Islay to sample scotch. Arran is about 10 miles wide and 20 miles long, and there’s a footpath – the Arran Way – that follows the shoreline all the way around. It’s about 65 miles and we walked it in the five days we were there. (Highly recommendable if you’re ever in Scotland!) We planned the trip in our heads for months before we left. Visualized every...

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One Graphic That Will Change How You Look at Overhead

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 in Communication, Donor Cultivation, Featured | 3 comments

One Graphic That Will Change How You Look at Overhead

About a year ago, I posted about overhead costs – How Much is Your Obsession with Overhead Costing You? In that post, I concluded that I find organizations not spending enough on fundraising far more often that I find organizations spending too much. “But even THAT isn’t the problem,” I wrote. “The real problem is that they’re proud of it.”   I had occasion to revisit this thought the other day when I ran across this gem buried in one land trust’s annual report. With a five-year average of high program allocation (91%) and low...

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One Common Planning Mistake

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured, Plans and Budgets | 0 comments

One Common Planning Mistake

A common mistake I see all too frequently relates to the difference between planning and recognition. Many fundraisers either confuse the two or fail to treat them as different altogether. When planning, we use “segments” to separate activities or nuances meant for one group while not necessarily meant for everyone. For example, we might segment based on what they gave last year, asking $100 donors to give $150 while asking $500 donors to give $1,000. Or how they were recruited – asking people who responded to a membership mailing to “renew”...

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My Favorite Membership Renewal System

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Featured, Membership | 2 comments

My Favorite Membership Renewal System

At Rally last year, Anita O’Gara and I led a seminar on Annual Giving. As the name implies, Annual Giving systems are the suite of fundraising activities that generate unrestricted revenue every year that can be used to support your organizational operations. I had occasion to review the seminar notes last week and was struck again by the number of organizations struggling with “membership.” Some confuse the word itself with rights to organizational governance and throw out the whole concept in reaction. Some view membership systems as...

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Making Your Newsletter into a Profit Center

Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Communication, Donor Cultivation, Featured, Fundraising Letters | Comments Off on Making Your Newsletter into a Profit Center

Making Your Newsletter into a Profit Center

Is your paper newsletter a budget expense? A corporate report? A burden? Something to get through in between more important tasks? Are you one of the hundreds of land trusts that have gone completely paperless? Replacing “old-fashioned” paper newsletters with E-News substitutes using the logic that you are saving both money and paper? Or is your paper newsletter a profit center? Does it make money? Does it make so much money, in fact, that you are considering increasing its publication?   OK, so truth be told, I don’t know any land...

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Transactional Donors Are Not Really Donors – Yet

Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Donor Cultivation, Featured | Comments Off on Transactional Donors Are Not Really Donors – Yet

Transactional Donors Are Not Really Donors – Yet

“Jorge” gives $250 to play in your golf “outing.” “Aliyah” gives $50 to become a member and immediately saves $80 on the cost of putting her two kids in the two-week nature camp you offer. “George” and his wife give $150 for two tickets to the Gala and then successfully bid $600 on one of the auction items.     What do these “donors” have in common? They are each “transactional donors.” They have purchased something and have gotten equal or greater value in return. If this is their first “gift,” great! But the chances of getting a...

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On the Value of Sabbaticals and How Are You Using Your 40 Hours This Week?

Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Featured, Staff Development | 2 comments

On the Value of Sabbaticals and How Are You Using Your 40 Hours This Week?

When I first started at The Nature Conservancy, the Employee Manual defined “full-time” work as 35 hours per week. Later, we would joke that we’d like to meet someone who could actually do their job in 35 hours. Hah! Over time, as I became aware of how I actually spent my time, I began to wonder whether I even worked 35 hours a week. To be sure, I was “present” for 40 and even 50 hours or more. But was I actually “working”? Now, a lot older and somewhat wiser, I have begun to question what should actually count as “work.”   Does reading...

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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 | Comments Off on How are You Doing on that Diversity Goal?

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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