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Posted on in Fundraising

The most critical question in planning a fundraising event?

NOT – what’s the best location…who should we honor…when’s the best date…or even what’s the right format.

All questions that board members – and staff too – love to focus on when starting to think about a special event.

It’s…who will do the asking for us. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Special events, even modest ones, require lots of time and attention. And sometimes the return on that investment stalls.

Even a successful house party – for example, 75 attendees at $100 each – can feel like a mountain to produce, year after year, for only $7,500.

“Don’t mess with success,” the warning goes – but is there a way to increase the net with the same amount of effort?

The answer is yes.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Big donors need data...

Big donors give from the heart…

Big donors want to be left alone…

Big donors want to get involved…

About the only thing that’s never said about big donors is that they give randomly, with no rationale for their gift.

While nonprofits can hope against hope that a mega-donation will descend from the sky, that’s about as likely as winning the lottery (or even less so).

Now, a NY Times article on mega-donation investments shows how focused a “big-bet” philanthropist (defined as over $10m gifts) can be. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Fundraising, done right, brings out the better in us.

I was reminded of this last week when working with an organization on “naming opportunities.”

This nonprofit advocates for services to recent immigrants, and is shaping the beginning of a capital campaign to renovate its space.

Of course, the opportunity to name all or part of the Center came up.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone came forward with $1m, we thought, and we’d call it the “Jack Torres Counseling Center” and be done with it?

But there’s another way, we realized, which fills the Center with love… 


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Posted on in Fundraising

There’s a world of difference between purchasing a service (no matter how satisfied the customer), and making a charitable contribution to help the world experience that activity.

A recent NY Times article on the Y’s new advertising campaign – “Beyond ‘Gym and Swim’” – discusses the public’s misconception about the role of the Y as a health club vs. its mission of community service.

In the case of the Y, this perception results in thousands of dollars in lost fundraising revenue – hence the Y’s new public service campaign, TV ads, digital news spots, etc.

But what are the lessons for the rest of us? 


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