BEATING THE ODDS: Five Donor-Relations Strategies That Impact Bequest Fulfillments

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In the previous blog I explained why the fulfillment rate of donor bequests was either good news or bad news, depending primarily on whether or not organizational leaders truly believe they can have a positive influence on revocable commitments. I want to finish my thoughts about bequest retention with a few practical suggestions on how the best fund-development departments beat the odds and prove that the negative statistics do not apply to them. Continue reading

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NONPROFIT BATTING AVERAGE: Increasing Your Organization’s Bequest Retention Rate

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The results of a twenty-year survey among donors with charitable gift commitments in their estate plans revealed that the retention rate at the ten-year mark was about 55%. In other words, almost half the respondents reported that they no longer had a charitable gift in their estate plans. Somewhere in that ten-year period they had revoked the revocable bequest. That survey constitutes either bad news or good news, depending on whether your organization has a progressive or regressive perspective. The follow post explains how and why. Continue reading

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THE FUTURE OF NONPROFIT NAVIGATION: Missing Data That Leads to Bad Decisions

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As an instrument-rated pilot with hundreds of hours in the cockpit, I understand the importance of focusing on data on my dashboard, particularly in stormy weather or when the way ahead is uncertain. When an inexperienced pilot gets into trouble, it usually begins with a single wrong assumption based on incomplete or incorrect interpretation of the instrument data. That’s followed by a series of bad decisions, each compounding the problem. I often see that same scenario repeated in nonprofit decision-making. Continue reading

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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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