Jason McNeal, Ph.D., Gonser Gerber partner, has provided advancement leadership to non-profit organizations for more than 20 years. Having served as the chief advancement officer at East Georgia College and Maryville College (TN), he also has consulted with institutions throughout the U.S. and Canada. Dr. McNeal has written extensively on key issues in non-profit fundraising and leadership including his blog that you can find at http://www.jasonmcneal.com.

Distracting Ourselves

If a menacing alien lifeform wanted to take over our world by systematically distracting us, I’m relatively certain they could not hatch a more effective plan than to introduce email into our lives. They would sell us on the ease, cost-efficiency, and instantaneous nature of the communication. And, used to only phones, snail mail, and…

Being Open To A Different Answer

Recently, I gave a 20-minute presentation designed to address the question, “when should you go public with your campaign?” The core of my response to this important question was (I admit unsatisfyingly), “it depends.” Simply put, there are no specific points of progress, no formula, nor definitive alignment of variables which would consistently forecast, for every nonprofit,…

Describing before Prescribing

Gift officers put tremendous time and energy into identifying the best possible gift ask amounts for each of the donors they engage.  They also focus a great deal of attention on identifying the area or purpose of the proposed gift.  In other words, gift officers spend a lot of time prescribing gifts to donors. “We are asking…

Point Of View

Without a point of view, any strategy that sounds good is worth trying. Without a point of view, it becomes exceptionally difficult to choose what to do and, (more) importantly, what not to do. Without a point of view, the annual calendar quickly devolves into a hodge-podge of activities without a general theme or purpose. Without a…

Engaging Board Members

Advancement leaders tend to fall into 3 categories when it comes to their approach to Board member engagement: Keep Board members at arm’s length as much as possible because they are more nuisance than helpmate; Engage Board members as needed, primarily on their governance and fiduciary roles; Appreciate Board members and engage each in various…

It’s Never Too Late

. . . to better engage your Board; . . . to reinvigorate your institution’s social media presence; . . . to make your direct mail solicitations more compelling; . . . to do something about climate change; . . . to get on the road and visit with donors more; . . . to…

Building Trust vs. Promising Specifics

If you ask a conference full of major gift officers how to best motivate major gifts from new donors or how best to encourage increased giving from already generous donors, a significant number likely will respond that communicating how their major gift will make an impact is the way to go. The conventional wisdom is…

The N=Me Fallacy

Here are some potentially less helpful starting points when brainstorming new advancement strategies with colleagues: “I wouldn’t go to that event . . .” “I don’t respond to direct mail . . .” “I’m not seeing that much at all on my social media . . .” There are 2 potential problems with these strategy-setting…

Motivations

We regularly discuss donor motivations, why people give and get involved, and how to appeal to their interests. What’s far less common are discussions focused on why we ask donors to give, why we invite volunteers to get involved, or how to appeal to our own motivating factors. If you are an advancement leader and…

Asking Questions

If your aim is to be a high-quality, effective leader, ask your questions early.  Be genuinely curious.  Gather information.  Listen to understand perspectives and positions.  Empathize with different experiences.  Learn what you don’t know. And then, use what you’ve learned from others and their realities to offer solutions. Waiting until after a solution is offered…