Tag Archives: non-profit leadership

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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ACCOUNTABILITY CULTURES: Toxic vs. Empowering Systems and the Effect on Fundraising Staff

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I used to keep a file in my desk drawer on the positive and negative lessons I learned from leaders—some great, others less than great. Eventually, the file was misplaced but many of the ideas were sticky enough to remain with me through the years. Below are a few of those leadership lessons on the importance of creating a culture of accountability that is both empowering and productive. Continue reading

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THE CASE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY: Why I Love It and Would Feel Lost Without It

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As unusual as it sounds to say, I love personal accountability. Consequently, I’m committed to a process of carefully tracking and analyzing where I’ve invested my time, talent, and resources. Without that process, I’d feel a bit lost. In fact, the more accountable I am, the more secure I feel in relationships with God, family, and friends; with clients and donors; with Thompson & Associates’ staff and associates. Realize it or not—believe it or not, your private and professional relationships are defined and sustained in the context of accountability. Continue reading

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PARADIGM SHIFTS: Inspiring Philanthropic Awakenings Among the Already-Generous

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In 2006 Warren Buffet made his Philanthropic Pledge, the decision to leave 99% of his wealth to charity during his lifetime or at his death. Bill and Melinda Gates have made a similar commitment (95% to charity). Together with Buffet, the Gateses are challenging their billionaire friends to make “The Giving Pledge,” a commitment to give at least half of their total assets to charity. Instead of asking, “How much do we really need to give,” the question becomes, “How much do we really need to keep?” That subtle change in wording represents the most radical change in perceptions about wealth, inheritance, and legacy.
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CREATING MARGIN: First Step Toward a Systematic Cultivation of Planned Giving Opportunities

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There’s an irrefutable law of nonprofit leadership: Consistent growth and long-term sustainability are largely dependent on an organization’s ability to monitor and maintain a healthy balance between 1) solicitation of gifts from discretionary income and 2) solicitation of planned gifts from net worth. It’s the latter that usually lags far behind the former. Last month I talked about the reasons for that gap. This month I will offer a few common sense suggestions on closing it. Continue reading

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