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Posted on in Fundraising

The auctioneer gave a beautiful, rousing speech about the nurturing children receive under the organization’s care. A parent offered a heartfelt thank you from the stage as they discussed their journey. And then the call for bids started – at $5,000 – with no takers.

The reason? No-one wants to be the first to stick their neck out and be exposed as the lone believer. Everyone is watching to see who’ll take the lead.

Which means that if a nonprofit hasn’t stacked the deck with a few bid-starters – they’ll be out of luck in a very embarrassing public display of “chicken.”

Not good for the cause, for the agency’s reputation, or for the kids. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

It’s hard to ask for money to honor myself” complained a special event honoree recently – and rightfully so.

Sidestepping that reluctance is the reason why many organizations recruit event co-chairs, or vice-chairs – someone who asks, in the honoree’s name, for the donation. “Please give money to honor Robert who’s been so important to our community” is a lot more palatable than Robert asking, himself, for a gift.

But there’s a third ask possibility – and a fourth. The third pitch is asking because of the organization’s good work; and the fourth is asking on behalf of the recipients of the organization’s work.

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Posted on in Fundraising

There’s a symbiotic relationship between an Executive Director and their Director of Development.

Without the ED as pitch person, supplying sizzle and vision, donors won’t make a significant investment. There has to be trust in the organization’s staff leader as the steerer of the ship.

But without the DoD as the planner and strategist, the ED’s time in the fundraising limelight can be spent mindlessly, re-nailing down already-in-the-fold sure shots or chasing fruitlessly after longed-for moonshots.

It’s a partnership of chess master and showman, planner and convincer. A marriage of complementary roles.

But why isn’t this partnership stronger in so many groups? What goes wrong?

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The charge from the executive director to the board members was daunting, although the intent was to be inspiring: Raise $80,000 from new donors.

Yet instead of rising to the challenge, board members are cowering in their seats.

The scene is reminiscent of a high school classroom where the students aren’t prepared – people sink lower and lower in their chairs, hoping not to be called upon.

How can we turn this around?

How can we transform a board goal into a guiding light, not a looming threat?

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Posted on in Fundraising

Board member fundraising commitment sheets. Cultivation opportunities. 1-1 ask role plays.

There are many good strategies to support board members taking their first, tentative steps in fundraising. Proven tactics that work, time and time again.

So why isn’t every board member at the table? Why are board members still resistant, when presented with all the “steps to success”?

Because they’re afraid.

And we have to address that fear before any of the myriad tools and best practices of the field will be useful.

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