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

A Culture of Philanthropy: Further Reading

For attendees at Rachel Muir’s and my AFP Presentation, and for anyone who is interested, here are the links to the two documents I cited: Haas Foundation Report on Culture of Philanthropy Transforming Organizations

Don’t educate your donors

Don’t try to educate your donors. The refrain of “we have to educate the donors” typically comes from a perfectly reasonable but utterly flawed notion: That if you, the donor, knew what I knew, you’d care about the things I care about. So instead of caring about furry animals with big eyes, I’m going to… Read more

Pick up the damn phone

Full disclosure: I generally hate the phone. I’d mostly be happier in an all-text, all-email world. But that’s just me. And it’s almost certainly not the case for most of your donors. We’ve been helping with thank you calls for a number of organizations and the donors never fail to be surprised and delighted that someone… Read more

Trump bump? Clean out your idle queue

You likely have 100 tasks that take a back seat to your immediate goal of bringing in revenue. But if you are lucky enough to be experiencing a lift in fundraising because of the radical shift in political climate, take this opportunity to clean out your idle queue. That’s right. Plow through those tasks. Look… Read more

Treating donors like $hit is bad fundraising

Why am I telling you something you already know??? Because chances are, you’re treating your donors like $hit. Here’s the problem: knowing and doing are two different things. Before you get all triggered, if you are treating your donors like $hit, it’s largely due to forces beyond your control. If there’s one thing we’ve learned… Read more