Is your organization living hand-to-mouth?

Is your organization living hand-to-mouth?

Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
 Many years ago, I met with with a senior citizen organization.  Early on in our meeting, I asked the executive director, Adele Wilkins, a delightful sexagenarian, how much money...
8 Reasons development directors leave

8 Reasons development directors leave

“It seems that development positions continue to be an 18 month cycle? Is it organizations not giving them enough time to gain traction or development professionals not as strong as their resumes?” I’ve been following this particular AFP “On Fundraising” LinkedIn group topic  for the past...
From interest to commitment | 7 key drivers

From interest to commitment | 7 key drivers

You know you need to thank your donors promptly.  You know that it costs more (as much as 10 times) to bring in new donors than to retain your current donors. But beyond thanking ‘em how do you create that special relationship with a donor?  How do you go from interest and mild liking to full-fledged...
5 Simple Solutions to 5 Troubling Nonprofit Statistics

5 Simple Solutions to 5 Troubling Nonprofit Statistics

Blackbaud’s Connections Blog by Steve MacLaughlin recently came out with 5 Troubling Nonprofit Statistics, another “gloom and doom” report on the state of nonprofit fundraising. Fundraising has always been challenging.  After all, you’re not selling a service or a physical product.  But...
How can you be donor-centric if you don’t know who your donor is?

How can you be donor-centric if you don’t know who your donor is?

As the thousands of gifts poured in following a membership appeal I prepared a few years back for a local nonprofit agency going to approximately 70,000 individuals, one donation in particular stood out. It wasn’t the largest donation our organization received, not by a long-shot.  No, it was the...
5 Tips to Maintain Your Enthusiasm as a Fundraiser

5 Tips to Maintain Your Enthusiasm as a Fundraiser

Several weeks ago I was chatting with a board president of an educational organization over lunch.  I’d been brought in for an hour long fundraising training scheduled during the organization’s retreat. “Well,” he remarked with more than a touch of resignation in his voice, “we really don’t...
Three Big Ideas to Take Your Relationships with Foundations to the Next Level

Three Big Ideas to Take Your Relationships with Foundations to the Next Level

Foundation folks are constantly being pitched, talked at, “worked.” How easy might it be to stand out from the crowd by taking a completely different approach? Here are three big ideas to get you started. 1. Connect without an agenda. Some years ago, the head of a major foundation spoke at...
These 7 Copywriting Secrets Can Make You a Fundraising Hero

These 7 Copywriting Secrets Can Make You a Fundraising Hero

Regular readers know that I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe, of all of the skills a good nonprofit marketing and development person needs, copy-writing tops the list. Why? Start collecting the nonprofit annual appeal letters that arrive in your mailbox.  Read through a few nonprofit websites. ...
What’s Paula Deen Got To Do With Your Nonprofit Marketing?

What’s Paula Deen Got To Do With Your Nonprofit Marketing?

I’m a Food Network junkie and one of my favorite Food Network Stars has always been Paula Deen.  Paula’s the Southern charmer who begins every recipe with either stick of butter or a cup of mayonnaise, throwing in plenty of “ya’alls” for good measure. Why am I telling...
Let’s Get Engaged, Honey

Let’s Get Engaged, Honey

Let’s just say it: engagement is a buzzword. I spent a few years in the educational publishing business, and it was a word I saw trotted out again and again, to describe every latest and every greatest. Engaging resources. Engage your students with this product. It’s all about engagement. After...
5 Down & Dirty Tips to Ramp up Your End-of-Year Appeal

5 Down & Dirty Tips to Ramp up Your End-of-Year Appeal

It’s already November, and, if you’re working for an understaffed agency with too much to do and not enough time or resources, think twice before you regurgitate last year’s annual appeal letter and call it a day. First off, ask yourself a few questions: Will you be mailing out your letters in-house...
It’s just emotion that’s taken me over … Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul

It’s just emotion that’s taken me over … Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul

(With apologies to the Bee Gees …) For six years I worked for a regional private family foundation. It was an amazing learning experience on so many levels, including teaching me how donors respond. In a recent post on Kivi’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog, Kivi notes that people’s hearts tend to...
Behind the Scenes at a Grantmaking Foundation

Behind the Scenes at a Grantmaking Foundation

Have you ever wondered just exactly what goes on behind the scenes at a private, grantmaking foundation once your proposal is delivered? I was fortunate for the opportunity to work at a private, family foundation for seven years. I worked for them during their early days, when they were just beginning...
Be a Fearless Grantseeker!

Be a Fearless Grantseeker!

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. Eleanor Roosevelt Awhile back I did a poll on the biggest fears grantwriters face in writing a grant proposal. Not surprisingly approaching...
Foundation Prospect Research – On a Shoestring

Foundation Prospect Research – On a Shoestring

Back in the day when I was running an entire development department alone on a tight budget, I recognized the importance of regular foundation prospecting research. Once a month or so I would trek into Philadelphia to spend a day at the public library researching funders on using Foundation Center,...
What to do When Your Proposal is Declined.  (Hint:  It’s the Beginning, Not the End!)

What to do When Your Proposal is Declined. (Hint: It’s the Beginning, Not the End!)

It’s always frustrating to have your grant proposal rejected, but it’s absolutely essential to stay optimistic and to persevere. The fact is that most grant proposals do get rejected, but learning from the experience—examining why your proposal was turned down—will benefit you by making future...
How to Build Relationships with Foundation Funders

How to Build Relationships with Foundation Funders

When it comes to foundation grants, the biggest question seems to be “how do we get our foot in the door?” How can our nascent grassroots arts organization quickly build relationships with the regional foundations that will help make our programming happen? Generally speaking, I’ve always believed...

Fundraising in a Recession – 7 Tips

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Unfortunately, the world of nonprofit development can be notoriously fickle and unfocused. Clearly we are in a major recession with no end in sight. The trick is not to...