Category Archives: Development Management

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: How Everything Decision Affects Fundraising

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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

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

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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

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NEXT UP: A Rare Example of CEO Successions

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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

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE TURNOVER: Intangible Rewards of Selecting the Right Candidate

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“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

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GOOD TO GREAT: Maximizing Fundraising Performance and Donor-base Potential

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Confronting brutal facts with unwavering faith, according to leadership consultant and best-selling author Jim Collins, is one of the characteristics of “10X companies” that were able to go from good to great. In this blog I talk about a Gift Clarity in-depth assessment, a strategic plan for fund-development, and a sample five-year staging plan—the overall objective being to maximize fundraising performance and donation potential. Continue reading

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WINNING TRADITIONS: Philosophy and Approach to Team Building

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I interact with a lot of fundraising executives representing institutions of all sizes and degrees of success—from the largest hospital network in the North America to small shops with two or three fundraisers. It would be a mistake to assume that very large organizations do all things very well while the very small always lack resources to implement a good fund development strategy. Sometimes it works that way; often it does not. When it comes to maximizing an organization’s funding potential, there seems to be little if any correlation between size and effectiveness. It has more to do with a consistent philosophy and leadership team along with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Continue reading

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STRATEGIC PLAN FOR FUND DEVELOPMENT—PART ONE: From the Big Ideals to the Nitty-gritty Details

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Over the last two years, I’ve been asking organizational leaders privately and publically if they have a strategic plan specifically for the fund development aspect of their organization. At a recent conference, I put that question to over 700 fundraisers. Only three raised their hand. The lack of response to this very informal survey and my follow-up conversations seem to beg two questions: 1) Is a list of fundraising goals the same as a strategic plan for fund development and 2) what difference does it make? Continue reading

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