Posted on in Fundraising

What’s the worst that could happen?

The occurrence – sudden or adding up over time – that would simply topple your agency, from which you could never recover?

And do those worries keep you up at night?

But even more importantly – are these mounting concerns shared? Or is it you alone tossing and turning in your bed, unable to completely let these burdens go?

There’s a lot of talk about risk management in the nonprofit world today. One key question is whether the boardroom is a safe place where a chief executive can admit concerns, or whether that opens them up to too much criticism.

Is the boardroom culture warts-and-all – or is it the good news hour?

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Posted on in Fundraising

What am I going to sell?

Nonprofit staff cringe when this plaint comes from board members. “Don’t they know how inspiring our work with kids is? What a difference it makes?”

Well, no. They don’t. Or they sorta do but not well enough to explain…field the questions that they’re sure will come…have the “take-your-breath-away” stat at their fingertips…know the zingers to throw in on top of the one anecdote they’ve memorized. And what you don’t know, you can’t sell.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Who’ll chair this year’s Annual Barbecue-A-Thon?

When board member Cynthia raises her hand, everyone is grateful, appreciative, and relieved. The matter’s settled till the next year.


If the next time you think about fundraising volunteerism is when you need the next hand raised, you’ve lost a real opportunity to get the right person doing the best job.

Nonprofit succession is not just about executive directors, or board chairs. It’s a year-long effort to build an evolving leadership team: a diverse and complimentary lineup of responsible, effective volunteers. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

We spend our nonprofit lives providing service, meeting challenges, pushing for change…and putting out fires.

We juggle, we track, we focus.

We solve what’s in front of us and, if we’re lucky, we get to look around the corner a quarter – or a year – ahead.

But when do we, as nonprofit leaders, get to move beyond the critical-now quadrant, to the key-but-not-pressing arenas?

If not in August – when? 

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Searching for a Savior – and Coming Up Short

When the Big Apple Circus announced an online campaign in June to stabilize its finances, it cited an 8-year decline in earned revenue as the cause of the crisis. Addressing their shortfall through several large one-time donations and support from “a core group of committed board members,” the Circus was unable to build a stable base of supporters large enough to finance its ongoing operations.

So it turned to the web.

Looking for unknown benefactors to bring in $2 million of new revenue, the organization failed to meet its goal, with a total raised of $900,000.

There are so many cautionary lessons to be drawn from this tale.

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