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Posted on in Fundraising

Put a group of fundraisers in a room and there’s likely to be some griping about how difficult it is to raise money, especially in these times. The political climate is diverting from our mission. Giving Tuesday has become diluted. Everybody has their gala at the same time every year. Yadda yadda yadda.

Inevitably, the question is raised: is the return on investment even worth it?

A recent client of mine had a board member tell her, on the heels of their most successful event ever, that she “didn’t think the board should have to do this every year.” Yikes!

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Posted on in Fundraising

…before you give up on a prospect?

That was the question a board member posed in a fundraising training we conducted last week.

We were talking about the importance of cultivation, and how you have to read the signals of what a potential donor is interested in and try to respond in kind. In other words, that it’s not about putting what you think is your best foot forward – but about divining the prospect’s intentions and passions and pursing a dialogue about those.

We were discussing the merits of touring a community garden versus visiting the senior crafts hour (which one better conveyed a sense of community need? which was pleasant – good news – but not so lite that prospects would forget the social service underneath the activity’s design?) when a voice popped up from the back of the room. “How long does it take?” asked a middle-aged man sitting near the refreshment table.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Development Directors are facilitators. Their work is done through the actions of others: executive directors, board members, funders, donors, volunteers, program staff.

For the most part, the visible components of the development process – sending a letter, having lunch with a prospective donor, approving a grant proposal, writing a check – are prepared for by the development director, but undertaken by those in more external-facing roles.

A development director’s job can be compared to the invisible hand moving the pieces around a chess board. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Fewer Americans are giving to charity – but the ones who do, are giving more.

That’s the tale told in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article exploring the “vanishing” donor base.

How are fundraising-savvy nonprofits dealing with it? The ones looking hard at current returns are concentrating more and more of their efforts on major gifts – those donations that can have substantial impact on the bottom line.

But nonprofits that are also focused on the future, are spending equal energy courting mid-level donors – those $250, $500 donors whose loyalty will grow over time.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Gratitude makes us more public-spirited.

Seems self-evident, yes? Someone looked out for us in our formative years, hence we “play it forward” and look out for others who are at that vulnerable time of life.

But here’s the twist: Feeling gratitude of any kind – even completely unrelated – turns out to make us more likely to invest in the public good.

And makes us happier, more optimistic, healthier.

Scientists have proven this to be so…

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