Tag Archives: donor relations

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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“IDEAL” LEADERSHIP: Beginning with the End in Mind

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Through the years, we’ve worked with hundreds nonprofits digging deeply into the inner workings of their mission, vision, and values. I’ve noticed that though they all have a vision for the organization’s program, it’s rare for a nonprofit to have an equally clear vision for donor relations. Visionary leadership is not just promoting ideas; it’s instilling, managing, and maintaining “ideals.” Nonprofit leaders should begin with a clearly defined vision of what donor relations would look like in the ideal expression of their organization. As Steven Covey puts it, “beginning with the end in mind”. Continue reading

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DONOR VISITS: Setting Up Those Relationship-Building Conversations

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Imagine having a long list of major donors just waiting for the chance to spend a little time with you. They all want to tell you about themselves, hear about your cause, and hope to build a long-term relationship… Early in my career, I dreamed often of such a job but unfortunately would wake up and return to the reality that there was nothing unusually interesting about me that would attract attention. I was just a regular guy who felt great compassion for those his organization served. As excited as I was about the organization, it was very difficult to find people willing to meet with me to talk about it. “Maybe,” I periodically said to myself, “I was not cut out for this kind of work.” 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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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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