FOUR BUCKETS: Accounting Standards and Donor Recognitions for Revocable Gift Commitments

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Donor recognition is just one of the issues of an ongoing discussion over the last several years with regard to revocable commitments for future gifts. The issues are: 1) how accountants should and should not count planned gifts on a balance sheet 2) how institutions should recognize planned gifts; and 3)
how they should count future gift acquisition. Most successful nonprofit fund development programs now track overall fundraising performance in three distinct buckets. I’ve added a fourth bucket. Continue reading

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A GENERAL THEORY OF FUND-DEVELOPMENT: Five Decisions that Keep Your Organization on the Front Side of the Momentum Curve

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Over the last few years I’ve posted a lot of articles on various aspects of the fund-development process. Some articles zoom in on one specific aspect of donor relations while others are more big-picture applications. In this article, I want to distill out from the whole of our ongoing conversations five big ideas about fund-development, which in one way or another contribute to the single-most identifiable characteristic of highly successful institutions. Continue reading

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GREAT CONVERSATIONS: The Foundation of Great Donor Relationships

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In previous posts I’ve talked about the importance of regular and meaningful conversations with donors. All those thoughts are a result of the one sure thing I know—great donor conversations are the essential foundation of great donor relationships. Rarely does the latter occur without the former. It’s that simple. And so, if your goal is to have a long and successful career as a fundraiser, then the focus of your professional development should be to become an expert conversationalist. Continue reading

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RAMBAM’S LADDER – PART 2: Three More Takeaways for Modern-Day Fundraisers

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Julie Salamon writes for the culture section for the New York Times. Her book entitled Rambam’s Ladder chronicles her philanthropic journey from nonprofit involvement, through repeated encounters with a particular homeless man, to a fundraiser who demonstrated equal access to the worlds of both the rich and poor—all in the context of Rambam’s hierarchy of giving. I’m continuing on this topic with a few more applications for twenty-first century fundraisers. Continue reading

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RAMBAM’S LADDER: Twelfth Century Rabbi and Philosopher on the Ascending Ethics of Giving

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Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204) is typically referred to by his Greek name, “Maimonides” or by the nickname “Rambam” (a collection of the syllables from his full name and title). In typical rabbinical tradition, Maimonides defined the “relative righteousness” of one’s charitable intent by the manner in which one gave alms to the poor. Each succeeding rung on the Rambam’s Ladder represented a better method or motive in giving.
Below is a valuable application from Rambam’s Ladder for fundraisers appealing to new or reluctant donors. Continue reading

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THE SECOND QUESTION: Talking to Donors About Their Kids’ Inheritance

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The first question about how much parents will need for the rest of their lives is not that difficult. The second question about children’s inheritance is often more complex because it’s not just a matter of how much we can give, but how much we should give and when. Below are a few thoughts on what to say and what not to say in a planned giving conversation about transferring wealth to the next generation. Continue reading

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CAREER STRUGGLES: Pursuing Success but Getting Lost in the Process

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I’ve had the privilege over the years of working with thousands of nonprofit fundraisers. These are great people doing great work, and they’re making the world a much better place. I can’t help but notice, though, many are struggling. I’m particularly sympathetic to frustrations and discouragements I hear from young fundraisers working somewhere down on the organizational chart. I was in that very same position many years ago. I finally had to draw a circle around myself and just focus on things that I could control within that circle. If you’re a struggling fundraiser (young or old), I hope my story helps.
Continue reading

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