Working Large

All advancement programs have finite resources, both human and financial. The idea that you can spend whatever you wish to accomplish your goals and aims is not reality.  Sure, advancement budgets at some institutions are larger than at others, but there is always a limit.  And, over the last few years – regardless of the…

Blah, Better, Best

Ineffective gift officers will (perhaps) spend time with prospective donors; Better gift officers will spend time with prospective donors.  And they, also, will invite the gift; The best gift officers will spend time with prospective donors.  They, also, will invite the gift.  And they will utilize the influence of others to increase the chances that…

Time and Money

Most every institutional and advancement leader will say they want to raise more money in the future.  In fact, most will say adamantly that they need to raise more money in the future. However, many leaders will also say in the very next breath, “but we don’t have money to add a new gift officer position.” Or,…

Fear, Anger, and Hate

You can raise a lot of money very quickly appealing to negative emotions. Humans are hard-wired to respond physically to negativity.  When we are fearful, or angered, or bitter, our bodies release stress hormones that prepare us to fight or flight. Our physical and psychological responses to negativity are powerful motivators.  In the short term, we will act when scared…

5 Lessons Dogs Teach Us About Fundraising

Pay more attention to others, less to yourself.  Dogs don’t care about what they are doing.  They care about what you are doing.  And that makes us feel good. Don’t let a “no” derail your efforts.  Sure, your dog might pout or cower if told “no” forcefully.  But dogs don’t stay in that negative emotional…

The Donor Awareness Matrix

A key aim of our advancement work should be to gain deeper awareness of our donors (and prospective donors). What do they believe about our institution?  What is their motivation to volunteer?  To give?  What are their specific reasons for engaging with us?  How would they describe their values? What other organizations do they support…

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…