5 Advancement Beliefs In Need of Improvement

Belief #1:  “It’s all about relationships.” Improvement:  “It’s all about purposeful relationships.” Belief #2:  “You should listen far more than you speak.” Improvement:  “You should ask far more questions than you make statements.” Belief #3:  “Our donors have giving fatigue.” Improvement:  “Our donors are tired of giving for visionless purposes.” Belief #4:  “Our Board should be more generous.” Improvement: “Our Board…

What We Know

The most knowledgeable mechanical engineer may have very little to say about the complex dynamics of intimate human relationships. The most advanced scholar in the humanities may have very little to offer when the topic of agriculture technology comes up. The most gifted and successful surgeon may be of very little help when it comes…

Scaling Results

When most advancement leaders are asked what they need to raise more money or engage more alumni, or do more of anything, the answer usually has something to do with hiring more people. But, when presidents, Board members, engaged donors, and other non-advancement leaders are asked the same question, they usually start by assessing if…

The Advancement Errors We Love

Our institution needs more money . . . “we need to hold a gala!” Our major donors aren’t giving as generously as they could . . . “we need more donor relations staff!” Our Board members don’t engage meaningfully with fundraising . . . “we are a working Board!” The fundamental problem with the most ineffective solutions…

Pieces and Purposes

When we think about our work, it’s easy to get caught up in the pieces.  For instance: the specific steps we have to complete to get the next direct mail package to the printer; or, the tasks we agreed to implement to plan our next special event; or, the visits we need to confirm to…

Potential vs. Willingness

In advancement, we focus a great deal of energy and time on the financial potential of donors.  Their capacity to give. We spend valuable resources on electronic wealth screens.  We organize donor lists based on wealth screening scores.  We plan meetings around strategies based on the financial capacity of donors and prospects. We rarely spend anything close to the…

“It would be interesting to know. . .”

This seemingly helpful set-up to a question (usually posed by a well-meaning volunteer or an ally to your institution’s mission or cause), is actually one of the more strategically-derailing phrases that can be uttered. “It would be interesting to know how many of our donors are under 35.” “It would be interesting to know how…