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...

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...

August 17, 2015

It’s kind of lonely at the top, isn’t it? Admit it. Who’s missing from the image that accompanies this blog? That’s right the CEO or executive director or president. The person who takes the responsibility when things go wrong and shares the credit when times are good.

Today, I’d like to talk about an issue that helps to build leaders at various levels of your organization – accountability.


True leaders have many great qualities such as the ability to:

  • have perspective

  • accept risk

  • adapt to situations

  • sort through details

  • know the business

  • and know how to solve problems.

Accountability is acknowledging responsibility for your actions, judgments, and policies....

August 4, 2015

Whether you’re a director of advancement, major gifts, or an executive director, you’re a leader. I wonder, though, how many directors of development or major gift directors view themselves that way.


A lot of times what I see is nonprofit development people waiting for someone (anyone) to lead.  It’s sort of like a Saturday morning at the Rescigno house. I usually look around and think everything is fine until I see the expression on Sue’s face: it says, “Hey Bucko, if we want to have a nice weekend, let’s do some straightening up, then we’ll both be able to relax.” Now I may not always like it, but that’s leadership! So I usually end up saying, “Just tell me what you’d like me to do, and...

June 15, 2015

Tonight may prove to be the night. All of Chicago waits for day to turn to evening as the Chicago Blackhawks will play Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning needing only one more victory to hoist the legendary Cup for the 3rd time in the last 6 years.


Leading the charge for the Hawks, as he always does, will be their 27 year-old captain, Jonathan Toews.  Toews is the subject of our leadership session today because he’s earned the respect and recognition of his peers as a true leader.


If you’re not familiar with his story, it bears a short re-telling. He came into the league as a first round draft choice of the Blackhawks at the tender age of 19 and was immediately na...

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