June 29, 2016

If I had just one dollar for every fundraiser who has told me that their CEO or Chair of the Board is afraid to ask, I could afford, well, a lot of stuff!

I bring this up because I was reminded recently of a leader of a well-known nonprofit in the Midwest who only wanted to go on “An Ask” if he was assured the answer would be “Yes.” As we all know, it doesn’t quite work that way, does it?

This aversion to “No” does create a certain opportunity, however.

If you happen to work under a CEO who is of a similar mind set, I’d like to suggest that you have a conversation with your prospective major donor that would go something like this:

You know my CEO/boss and I know you and he agree on many issu...

January 8, 2016

I’ve thought about the membership vs. donor debate for a long time and from many angles. Most of the organizations I’m familiar with have members who receive your services or donors who give you money. There’s not a lot of crossover.


Fundraisers usually don’t want to muddy the waters of the more transactional side of giving. We all know that it’s more than a transaction, but let’s be practical. A donation is a 100% taxable benefit—which membership isn’t. Membership fees are usually low and not upgradable (you can get a $50 donor to give $100, but a $20 membership is a $20 membership).


Members are tied to the nonprofit’s cause differently than donors are. For example, membership at a local...

November 23, 2015

I’m sure your nonprofit has a great mission and a story that's endearing and in need of being shared with the masses. Does your board feel the same way you do?


The fact is that enthusiastic board members are worth a great deal!


Here are 3 factors we stress with leaders of nonprofits when we speak with them about engaging their boards:

  1. Get them excited, even passionate about your core values. This will have a trickle-down effect on others. One way to ensure this is to recruit people that have passion and then let them know what the expectations are – up-front,  in terms of time commitment, fundraising responsibilities, attendance at events and, of course, board meetings. You can better...

October 26, 2015

So often when I ask executive directors about their relationships with board members what I get is, “Well, we meet quarterly and I have about 75-80% attendance, so that’s pretty good.”


Have you ever thought about your board meetings as opportunities to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders (your board) while also building your reputation?


If you’d like to better leverage your board’s network and influence in the future to benefit your nonprofit, try these 3 strategies during board meetings:

  1. If you want success when it comes to asking your board to invest energy and connections, you must build a foundation of trust. You’ve probably already started this process with a transparen...

October 19, 2015

How’s your board fundraising committee doing? They’re struggling? You’re not alone, believe me. BoardSource 2012 Governance Index reported that 46% of nonprofit CEOs gave their boards D’s or F’s for their fundraising efforts.

Here’s what I think about this issue: fundraising committees aren’t always necessary for effective fund raising. Really! When a committee is doing a poor job, it’s probably best to cultivate and support the few board members who do a good job.

It is important though to have board member involvement. Fundraising is supposed to be a joint responsibility of the board and management. It can’t simply be put on you and your staff. At the minimum, foundation proposals usually...

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