Tag Archives: donor relations

“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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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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CLOSING ON MAJOR GIFTS: Classic Sales Training Techniques Applied (or not) to Nonprofit Solicitations

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Historically, nonprofit executives (including fundraisers) emerged from the ranks of financial professionals, business leaders, academic faculty, or the nonprofit’s most experienced program staff. In contrast, a relatively small number make the transition from direct sales to fundraising. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because many of the best salesmen don’t make great fundraisers. It’s bad because fundraisers coming from other professions don’t have the background to determine if and when traditional sales tactics are appropriate. Below are a few observations about traditional sales training, closing techniques, and major-gift solicitations. Continue reading

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