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.

The Donors We Inherit

Every advancement team inherits most of its donors.  You may be new to your role, or you may have been at your institution for years.  But the bulk of the donors you will engage have a giving history with your institution that precedes you. Percentage wise, a few of these inherited donors are exceptionally generous…

Becoming Better With Major Gifts

One reason it’s difficult to teach someone how to be a better major gifts professional is because it’s not about teaching specific words or phrases to use during an ask.  It’s not about teaching a particular process or formula to follow in order to prepare for asking a prospect for a major gift.  It’s not…

The Strategy Or The Board

In poker, the “board” is the context of the community cards (the cards dealt face-up in the middle of the table and available for any player to use in putting together her hand) during any given hand. A “dry board,” for instance, occurs when the community cards do not have much connection or relationship with…

Listening To The Critic

Listening to the critic can help you get better. That special event reception was too short, perhaps.  Or, that annual report did contain too few pictures that emphasize diversity.  Or, our phonathon callers probably could be more engaging. But, there are times when listening to the critic is wrong-headed. When the critic sends back your…

Who Owns The Success Of Your Advancement Program?

Advancement leaders are good at setting goals. We have dollar goals, donor number goals, annual giving, major giving, planned giving, and campaign goals.  We have stewardship goals, constituent event goals, and database health and hygiene goals. In fact, because the outputs of our work are so easily quantifiable, there can be a problem at times…

Do This Before You Ask

It’s quite common for advancement professionals and volunteers to want the “silver bullet language” around asking for gifts.  Surely there must be phrases, individual words, and conversation transitions which, when deftly strung together, will unlock the giving motivations in humans. There must be a process, a formula, a blueprint that makes the asking easier and…

The 3 Most Important “Case For Support” Questions

Too many institutions start the draft of their “Case For Support” by focusing on the “support” part of that phrase. These are typical questions asked first: Project:  What do we need money for? Priority:  Is this project/initiative/building our most important priority? Details:  How will we specifically spend the money? And while these are, ultimately important questions…

It Didn’t Work

“It didn’t work, so we aren’t planning to do it again.” I’ve heard this statement from advancement professionals after phonathons, direct mail solicitations, donor surveys, and even, social media-focused giving days. But, when probing just a bit further, there are almost always two separate misunderstandings that are driving this statement. First, there usually is low…

What The Donor Wants

The practice of donor-centrism has morphed into a wholly-disconnected concept from its original intent. Gone is the admonition that donors and philanthropy should be embraced and celebrated as an important thread making up the fabric of an institution’s culture – that institutions should actually care about donors.  In it’s place is the widespread misunderstanding that…

The Intelligent Donor. . .

. . . seeks to learn more about your institution’s strategic plan. . . . asks if a 5-year pledge schedule is acceptable. . . . expects to sign a pledge document or gift agreement. . . . asks how many other donors are giving at the level they are. . . . asks how…