Are you chasing unicorns or building your future donor base?

Roger Craver likes to say, “Don’t chase unicorns.” He taught me a ton about fundraising and he’s right on here. The ALS ice bucket challenge, the Barack Obama fundraising success of 2008 and 2012, Invisible Children’s Joseph Kony viral video… these are all unicorns. They are strikes of lightning that are close to impossible to… Read more

The Rule of One

Check out this inspiring Chronicle of Philanthropy piece on the evolution of AARP’s social media strategy. We have long taken the position that social media is important, but not necessarily in the ways we expected. Both the process AARP followed (lots of experimentation) and the resulting “AARP Studios” are worthy of emulation. I’m especially enamored… Read more

Asking Shouldn’t Make You Cringe

Here’s how an Executive Director went from magic to misstep in 10 seconds flat. Last week, I spent a full day in community with the membership of my meditation center — my spiritual home — and met the leader and teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, a rare treat. It was transformational. After the event, the Executive… Read more

Not Dead Yet

If I wasn’t a baby boomer myself, I’d probably hate us too. But the reality is, the era of boomer-dominated philanthropy has just begun. Consider this — the youngest of us is still in their 40s. The last baby boomer will turn 50 next month. Buckle up. It’s gonna be a long ride.

Direct marketers are from Mars: Executive Directors are from Venus

Direct marketers tend to love tests and numbers. Executive Directors tend to love big pictures and anecdotes. Combine them — and it’s like two world’s colliding.  Simply put, direct marketers are from Mars. and executive directors are from Venus. A tip: Direct marketers, learn to speak Venusian. Here’s how: (1) What’s your theme for the year?… Read more

How the Big Boys Blow It

Newsflash – fundraising is hard. So hard that even a corporate behemoth like the New York Times can’t get it right. Here’s how they bungled a recent attempted gift: I have for years, read the Times’ “neediest cases” stories, which apparently have been going on for more than 100 years. Today, as I was looking… Read more

Results they need to see

When you write fundraising copy for a living, you learn that the proof is always in the results. It used to irk me (now it just humors me) when non fundraisers talk philosophically about what messages will raise more money.  They love to bandy about terms like “theory of change” and “educate people about what… Read more