Tag Archives: Thompson & Associates

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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PLUGGING THE LEAKS: The True Impact of a 1% Increase in Your Donor Retention Rate

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Trying to fill a bucket that leaked as quickly as you could pour water into it would be a frustrating way to spend your day—or your career. That’s how many fundraising professionals feel when all the gains they make in donor acquisition are lost in the next year to donor attrition. Below is a summary of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2016 report along with a few of my own comments about strategy and the true impact of an increased donor retention rate. 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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THE FAMILY STORY: Recognizing Our Opportunities for Legacy Gifts

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For ages on end, people have derived their sense of place and purpose in the context of multi-generational family stories. Unfortunately and for various reasons, fewer and fewer have that experience today. In this blog I talk about my 12-year involvement in the gatherings of one exceptional family of donors and about one important lesson for planned giving executives.  Continue reading

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BEATING THE ODDS: Five Donor-Relations Strategies That Impact Bequest Fulfillments

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In the previous blog I explained why the fulfillment rate of donor bequests was either good news or bad news, depending primarily on whether or not organizational leaders truly believe they can have a positive influence on revocable commitments. I want to finish my thoughts about bequest retention with a few practical suggestions on how the best fund-development departments beat the odds and prove that the negative statistics do not apply to them. Continue reading

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