How To Decide

The most important part of leadership is deciding. Deciding which direction to go.  Deciding which choice to make.  Deciding what project not to put resources behind.  Deciding what idea not to pursue. But making decisions isn’t the most difficult part of deciding.  Each of us make decisions every day.  We have preferences.  We have interests.  We make…

Diffusion of Responsibility and Inviting a Gift

In the sociopsychology world, the concept of diffusion of responsibility is well studied and researched.  Basically, diffusion of responsibility suggests that when individuals are confronted with an emergency, they are less likely to help when there are more people around.  This diminution of helping behavior occurs because each of us believes others in the group will or…

Marketing Your Annual Fund

Development leaders often make the case that donors aren’t eager to give to the annual fund because its not compelling to support “keeping the lights on.” But, donors aren’t ceasing their giving to your annual fund because they want to, “give to something specific” instead.  Or, because your annual fund, “is a black hole.”  Or,…

Helping Donors Make Exceptions

“Young people today don’t love our country and they don’t want to work.” This statement was made by a major gifts donor I interviewed a couple years ago. The interesting thing about this quote is not that an older, white, U.S. citizen made such a statement.  These types of statements from folks in this demographic…

Setting The Table

Most institutions understand the concept of marketing – offer an attractive opportunity along with an easy way for people to respond. We market programs, special events, activities, athletics, ticket sales, annual giving opportunities, naming opportunities, planned giving, etc. But what comes before marketing – public relations – is at least as important as the marketing…

Practicing Gratia

What is the purpose of giving? If I were to answer that question by analyzing the appeals for charitable gifts from a variety of nonprofits, I’d come up with a clear answer: The purpose of giving is to meet the important and various needs of others. Students need a robust education.  Communities need the best…

A Higher Education ‘Feel Good’ Story With a Moral

Recently, I read a news story about a woman who posted on social media about potentially missing out on a substantial scholarship offer from Maryville College in Tennessee. If you have yet to read the story, the basics are that student was going to need significant financial assistance to go the traditional 4-year college route.  After applying…

Attracting and Keeping Great Team Members

When thinking about hiring and retaining productive and positive team members, its easy to lean on 3 employee-centric decisions: 1. Higher pay; 2. Better title; 3. More flexibility with schedule. While most advancement leaders would relish the opportunity to be able to pay team members more, to promote people consistently, and to add more flexibility…

“Yes” and “No” Are Overrated

“I’m writing to let you know that we will make the gift of $50,000.” “Unfortunately, we aren’t going to be able to give this year.” The first quote represents the wonderful news that the donor will give.  Yes!  This is a fantastic message to receive and we rejoice in receiving it. The second quote, on…

Receiving and Inviting

Many advancement teams have a primary culture of receiving gifts. In general, these teams spend the bulk of their time, energy, and resources after gifts have been made.  They are really good at responding, thanking, stewarding, and showing gratitude. Some advancement teams have a primary culture of inviting gifts. These teams spend more time, energy, and resources before gifts…