UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: How Everything Decision Affects Fundraising

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Every aspect of what nonprofits do and how they do it trickles down to donor relations and fund development. Of course, some things have a more direct and immediate impact than others. This might not matter so much to you except that higher-ups routinely evaluate and grade the performance of individual fundraisers and fundraising departments. Occasionally, one of those higher-ups is not inclined to connect the dots—the mutually dependent relationships between organizational performance and fundraising performance—which creates an awkward situation for fundraisers. Below are a few examples. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

UNFORTUNATE FOCUS ON CASH: Donation Types as Predictors of Future Growth

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Dr. Russell N. James III is a diligent researcher with a nose for sniffing out the most relevant data for nonprofit fund development. So, whenever Dr. James publishes a major research paper on fundraising, everyone in the profession should sit up and take notice. The research question of his most recent paper was this: Would the type of donations reported by nonprofits in 2010 (cash-only, non-cash gifts, and/or securities) become a predictor of the future growth or future decline in total contributions over the next five years? The finding were quite amazing. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

NEXT UP: A Rare Example of CEO Successions

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Poor succession planning can set an organization back years. Some will never regain previous momentum without another change in senior executive leadership, which can possibly set the organization back even further. On the other hand, it’s so refreshing to catch institutions making carefully planned and highly successful leadership transitions. And when that happens repeatedly over five decades—now, that’s something worth noting. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CHIEF EXECUTIVE TURNOVER: Intangible Rewards of Selecting the Right Candidate

This gallery contains 1 photo.

“You have chosen…poorly,” said the knight guarding the Holy Grail. The famous line from the movie, “Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was spoken as an intruder tried to select the of cup of Christ from over a dozen options. I think of the line from this movie every time I hear about an exceptionally great or an unfortunately poor choice to lead an organization into the future. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GIVING SIGNALS: Clearly Defining Successful and Unsuccessful Donor Visits

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Feedback loops can be either positive or negative, causing things to quickly go from bad to worse or from good to great. Feedback loops can be applied to almost any kind of system—social, political, or economic—including nonprofit fund development systems. Over the last few years, a typical feedback loop at nonprofits is one that has led to the abandonment of quality donor communications, particularly person-to-person visits and actual conversations with donors. One thing has led to another, which has led to another, which turned into a vicious cycle. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE: Senior Development Executive’s Role in Evaluating Donor Visits

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Nonprofit leaders are very good at tracking past performance—each donor’s giving history and each fundraiser’s contribution to the budget. However, nonprofit leaders tend to be far less committed to consistently and carefully evaluating our ongoing donor visits. In other words, our evaluations are so focused on past performance that we’re usually not as good at identifying future giving signals in our ongoing conversations with individual donors. Two conversations illustrate my point. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE LISTENING HABIT: The Donor’s Story and the Organizational Story

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Many companies are attempting to brand themselves as having a deeply embedded culture of listening. I really don’t know if these companies and their employees actually listen to their clients and constituents any better than their competitors or if the listening promotion is merely a marketing slogan. What I do know is this: In thousands of conversations with donors over the years, I have come to realize that often THE DONOR’S STORY is just as important as your organizational story. Occasionally, it is FAR MORE IMPORTANT. Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments