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…

Confusing Brand With Effectiveness

You may work at a prestigious and nationally (or even internationally) known educational, healthcare, or social service nonprofit. Or, you may work at a local, small organization without a lot of general brand recognition. Neither of those settings help predict the effectiveness or sophistication of your advancement program. Institutions with strong brand recognition, larger teams…

The Test Invitation

Scenario:  A major gift officer has set up a Discovery visit with a prospective major gift donor.  This prospect either has never given to your institution or she has given infrequently and modestly to annual appeals or giving days (i.e. all gifts well under $1,000). During the Discovery visit, the gift officer realizes that the…