Author Archives: Eddie Thompson

A FINAL THOUGHT: What Those Last Letters to Loved Ones Can Mean

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Each estate planning professional at our company, Thompson & Associates, walks clients through a process that helps them clarify their thinking on several important issues: what they would still like to accomplish in their lifetime, the values that have guided them throughout their lives, and the legacy that they wish to leave to their children and grandchildren. The process usually culminates with clients writing final letters to their loved ones. That’s what usually happens—but not always. Continue reading

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THE POWER OF STORY: Using Historical Narrative As a Compelling Case for Your Mission

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I was put into a situation early in my fundraising career that became an unforgettable example of the power of a story to influence people and move them to action. As a development representative for David Lipscomb University, the Vice President assigned me the responsibility of following up with a particular donor. He was extremely wealthy, but also extremely tight with all that he had. No one from any organization, that I am aware of, had been able to convince him to make more than one significant donation. He was assigned to me, but not because anyone thought I would have any more success. Rather, as the junior executive on the staff, I inherited all the files of lapsed and unlikely donors. Continue reading

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SIX LEADERSHIP IMPERATIVES; Characteristics of the Most Successful Organizations (Part 2)

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In the last article I began describing the twelve characteristics of the most successful nonprofit organizations, which was based on my dissertation research at Vanderbilt University. The first six characteristics related to personal communications and the depth of ongoing conversations nonprofits have with major donors. The next six characteristics of the most successful nonprofits are generally related to leadership and administration — how they managed and directed their respective organizations. The best way to describe a successful organization is to see it as a mosaic. Continue reading

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SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT; Six Conversations that You Need to Have with Major Donors

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Six of the twelve characteristics of the most successful organizations related in one way or another to the strength of donor relationships and to the depth in which organizational leaders understood their donors. After thirty years of practice, I’ve learned another important lesson — that each one of those best-practices corresponds to a particular conversation you need to have with a major donor. Below are the first six characteristics and what I have learned about the conversations that go with those characteristics. Continue reading

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GREAT BY CHOICE: Twenty-Mile Marching for Non-Profits

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This is part two of my review of the book by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen — Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (See part one: Donor Pinging). My objective is to suggest a few ways the principles in Great by Choice can be applied to fundraising and non-profit leadership. As we begin a new year or any time we are inspired to think about the pace and progress of our development efforts, 20-mile marching is great concept to review. Continue reading

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MASLOV & THE NEED TO GIVE: What Fundraisers Should Know about the Mechanics of Generosity Among the Wealthy

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I’ve spent thirty years meeting with donors from each non-profit institution I serve as a charitable estate planning consultant. Setting up estate plans that contain advanced structures and procedures is the easy part — almost incidental to the process. The most important thing I do is sit, drink coffee, and listen carefully. My most important objective is to simply understand their desires and their hopes, their fears and their frustrations. Over time I have come to realize some interesting things about people and their need to give. Continue reading

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DONOR PINGING: Firing Bullets Before Cannon Balls

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In their recent book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen published the results of a nine-year research project in which they identified three characteristics of what they called “10X leaders.” It would benefit all of us fundraising executives to understand how those principles apply to non-profit leadership. However, to become a 10X executive in the non-profit world, you must have an intuitive sense about a for-profit executive’s frame of reference, particularly with regard to donor pinging. Continue reading

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