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Strategic Planning for Fundraising: Start with the Goal!

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Development Audit, Donor Cultivation, Featured, Plans and Budgets, Staff Development, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Strategic Planning for Fundraising: Start with the Goal!

Strategic Planning for Fundraising: Start with the Goal!

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Why are we doing this event? Because we did it last year. Why do we send out an appeal letter in October? Because that’s what we’ve always done. Why are our $250 donors called “Patrons”? Why do we host an annual golf tournament? Why do we write notes on renewal letters? Someone wise once told me that every once in a while, instead of trying to climb faster or smarter or more efficiently, it’s important to step back and make sure your ladder is still leaning on the right wall. I’ve written about this...

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Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot: Three Common Practices that Undermine Fundraising

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in Communication, Development Audit, Donor Cultivation, Featured, Membership, Plans and Budgets, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot: Three Common Practices that Undermine Fundraising

This weeks’ post is about shooting yourself in the foot. And in each case, the cause is related to an overreaction to a complaint. Worse, sometimes the person complaining is someone internal to the organization and who therefore should know better.   Life Memberships (and other forms of “discount” memberships) When I first started working for The Nature Conservancy, the organization offered Life Membership to people who contributed $1,000 or more. The logic was that membership came with a minimum gift of $15 and $1,000 therefore represented nearly 70 years’ worth. That same logic...

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Knowing When to Cut Bait

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Communication, Donor Cultivation, Featured, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Knowing When to Cut Bait

We talk sometimes in solicitation training about “No” not necessarily meaning “Not Ever.” It might mean not now. It might mean I don’t have enough information, or I don’t yet have the level of trust I would need to have to make that kind of giving decision. It might even mean I like the organization but not that particular project. But sometimes, deferral and procrastination can signal that the donor is really saying No, also. One day, in the middle of our capital campaign, it was time to talk with one of our wealthiest prospects. Net worth and income off the charts, this man had made $5,000...

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Denomination Rules: How much should we ask for?

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in Communication, Donor Cultivation, Featured, Plans and Budgets, Staff Development, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Denomination Rules: How much should we ask for?

I get asked fairly often how I determine what to ask for from a major gift prospect. My flip answer is always: “Depends on how much you need.” It actually depends on a great deal more factors that that, but I get tired of stopping at “It depends…” So, here’s a few general rules of thumb, I’ve used in my work and career: I’ll ask anybody for $1,000. Many people spend that on designer coffee and internet service every year. Got a smart phone? – you’re capable of entertaining a $1,000 price tag. Therefore, by extension, I’ll ask anyone for a five-year pledge totaling $5,000 – assuming it’s a...

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Encore Ideas – Scavenger Hunt for New Board Members

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Board Development, Featured, Staff Development, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Encore Ideas – Scavenger Hunt for New Board Members

Some ideas are worth re-presenting and re-considering as time and wisdom begin to shape them even further. This week, I’m thinking about board orientations – so-called “onboarding.” I’ve written about this before (See Rethinking Board Orientations). But in the last few years, I’ve met many more board members than I knew then, and my impressions have helped shape and further refine my thinking. Here’s the gist: Let’s say that we want board members who are fully prepared to make the strategic, critical, and wise decisions we ask of them at every meeting. Let’s also admit that we rarely find...

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How Many Individuals Gave Money in 2016?

Posted by on Jan 10, 2017 in Development Audit, Featured, Membership, Plans and Budgets, Staff Development, Uncategorized | 1 comment

How Many Individuals Gave Money in 2016?

Yesterday was the 9th, which means that you have now received gifts from everyone who actually wrote their checks and mailed them on December 30th. So the fundraising year 2016 is now officially over. Here’s what I want to know: How many different individuals gave you money last year? It seems like such a simple question, but I have had more trouble getting clear answers than I ever would have suspected. Some of the confusion is just the nature of the beast. But much of it relates to this not being a very interesting data point for many people. It should be. Here’s why: The number of people...

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