Tag Archives: non-profit leadership

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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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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CULTURE OF PHILANTHROPY: What Nonprofit Leaders Can Learn from the Industry-leading Customer-service Company

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Over the last few years, there’s been lot of discussion among organizational leaders about the culture of philanthropy. Many have asked, “How do we create a culture in which people will want to give to our organization?” The question, however, is fundamentally misdirected. What organizational leaders should be asking is, “How do we create a cultural of philanthropy within and among our own organizational staff and stakeholders?” 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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FAITH-BASED PHILANTHROPY: Appealing to the Devout Affluent

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Through the years, my observation has been that people of faith are extremely consistent and usually very generous givers. This article focuses on one particular group of faith-based donors with two main characteristics: 1) those who are very devout and very serious about their relationship with God, and 2) those who have very high giving capacity. I call these the “devout affluent.” Below are a few the unique concerns that these donors bring to the table and what fundraisers need to keep in mind when appealing to them 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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NOBLE OCCUPATION: A Little Bit of Don Quixote in All the Best Fundraisers

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Don Quixote perceived himself as a man on a mission, a knightly quest to become the champion and defender of all who were in need. Like the fictional hero of the Spanish novel, the most effective nonprofit leaders I’ve known are those who have been able to maintain a kind of romanticized ideal about their occupation. But that’s not always easy to do. Contending with unrelenting needs as well as the occasional setback can wear down your idealism and enthusiasm over time. Continue reading

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