A band camp story

Suppose your niece asked you for money to help send her to band camp. You would give — as much as you could — and hopefully, she’d be on her way. What if — three months later — you never heard what happened? Did she even go? Did she change her instrument to percussion after… Read more

Your donors care more about “why”

Many staff in non profits, including Executive Directors, focus on what the organization does and how it does it. Your donors care more about why. Mark and I have been training a group of Executive Directors from children’s advocacy groups around the country on individual fundraising. During one of our day-long workshops, we asked them… Read more

Fundraiser Kudos Week

That’s right. I’m declaring this week Fundraiser Kudos Week. I made it up, but with holidays like International Bacon Day and Make a Hat Day, I think Fundraiser Kudos Week passes the laugh test and more. Why? Because according to a recent Sea Change survey, fundraisers feel under appreciated and misunderstood. We feel like most… Read more

The bounty hunter thing, again

Small wonder that the average tenure of a development director is only slightly longer than the lifespan of a fruit fly. If donors are walking ATMs to many executive directors, then development directors are bounty hunters. And too often, scapegoats. Great piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week succinctly titled “Development Directors are not… Read more

All the feels: Emotion is an output

You are in the emotion business. Emotion should be an output for everything you put in front of your donor. Do you want her to feel passionate, angry, relieved, grateful, joyous or sad? You need to know what you want her to feel. So before you write your next letter, email or Facebook post, think… Read more

When intuition fails

As an aspiring storyteller I love the Flannery O’Connor quote “I find everyone thinks they know what a story is until they sit down to write one.” It’s hard and there’s so much more to it than you think. And much of it is not intuitively obvious. I’ve come to realize that the same can… Read more

Do you have a great relationship with your CEO or ED?

We’re about to release a study that we hope will get tongues wagging. The thesis? That in most organizations fundraising is limited more by internal structural and cultural issues than by lack of strategic or tactical know-how. Inspired by studies by the Haas Jr. Foundation,  we aim to solve this problem by helping organizations build a culture… Read more

Surprise and wow

I spent the weekend at MD Anderson in Houston. My dad has cancer and my mom and I spent some sleepless hours in the waiting room while the surgeon removed his tumorous prostate and several equally tumorous lymph nodes. As she and I were on our last legs, this cheerful group of volunteers passed through… Read more