“I don’t know.”

I enjoy watching Denzel Washington act.  His character range is staggering and I can’t recall a character he’s played that I found unbelievable. Recently I watched, “The Equalizer 3,” where he stars as Robert McCall, a retired special operations officer turned vigilante righting wrongs against evil across the globe on behalf of the innocent and the bullied.…

5 Advancement Basics

Annual Giving – consistently invite donors to give in support of your cause/mission comprehensively; Constituent Relations – consistently engage volunteers to get others more involved with your cause/mission; Advancement Services – consistently produce standing reports that have clear and important purposes; Major Giving – consistently send creative and compelling messages that encourage donors to visit…

The Question of Fear

Fear in the workplace is a corrosive, anti-productive emotion. It prompts us to assume bad motivations in others without evidence. It prompts us to tell others about our value/experience instead of listening for ways we can learn from them. It prompts us to remove ourselves when we should lean in and be heard. It prompts…

The Agenda Or Bust!

Employing a well-planned, written meeting agenda is critical to making progress, staying focused, and, making people feel valued enough not to waste their time. However, in some circumstances, deviating from a well-planned agenda is warranted. If a governing board is discussing the potential of moving forward with a major fundraising campaign, that topic is probably…

Our Donors Don’t. . .

. . . give to the annual fund. . . . care about giving levels or giving societies. . . . attend events. . . . respond to phone calls. . . . agree to face-to-face visits. It may, indeed, be true that, “our donors don’t,” do this or that.  The data may support our…

Mission, Vision, and Values

The words of our mission statement are less important than how consistently we use our mission to make budgetary decisions. The directions described in our vision statement are less important than how enthusiastically we use our vision to invite donors to give. The specific virtues expressed in our values statement are less important than how…

The Decision-Making Process

Leaders have 3 types of decision-making approaches from which they can choose.  They can be: Leaders who allow others to make the decision. Leaders who make the decision without listening to the perspectives of others. Leaders who make the decision after listening to the perspectives of others. Let’s use the hiring of a gift officer as a decision-making example.…

The Un-Asked Question About Campaign Readiness Studies

Our firm regularly helps institutions prepare for major, multi-year fundraising campaigns.  One of the most requested services we provide is what we call our Campaign Readiness Study. These studies are comprehensive, thorough, and typically include anywhere from 50-75 confidential interviews with the client’s most capable and engaged donors.  In addition, we review all kinds of…

“You Should Run Your Business More Like a Nonprofit!”

It is fairly common to have smart, engaged volunteer Board members complain that our institutions should be “run more like a business!”  You may have even heard colleagues and administrative leaders at your institution sharing similar sentiments. Perhaps that sentiment has merit. But, the reverse is also worth exploring.  What if a business was “run…

Can I Be Better?

In most instances, the objective answer is, “yes.” I can be better at understanding and acknowledging my biases. I can be better at listening to others. I can be better at my job from a technical standpoint. I can be better with staying consistent with productive habits and minimizing unproductive ones. I can be better.…