August 6, 2015

As fundraisers, I know that you are often overwhelmed with opportunities to learn more about your craft in seminars, workshops, and training sessions, for example.  And when it comes to annual giving, major gifts, and planned giving very smart people talk about cultivation. They tell you about primary and secondary contacts, board involvement, software, stewardship and many other things.


All of the above are necessary for success, it’s true.  But, in my opinion, at the core of all of this is one simple word — trust. It’s really the one reason why donors give and give again to your nonprofit.




Yes, they believe in your mission, have respect for your staff, board and management. But t...

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...

June 5, 2015



A basic maxim of the work you do is that fundraising is about more than getting a gift. It’s really all about building relationships with individuals.  Let’s be clear: it’s not about being best friends with every donor.

Successful development programs are not built off of one-time transactions, but rather by long-term relationships. These relationships are important not only when seeking major gifts, planned giving, or even the smallest annual gifts from individual donors. they also have a sort of ripple effect in the pursuit of corporate and foundation support.


You see? No matter what fundraising challenge you’re facing,  it’s people who decide whether or not to support your organi...

May 25, 2015

It’s the time of year when nonprofits often look to evaluate their donor base – how many donors have renewed from this time last year and how many have taken that all-important initial step to make their first gift.


The fact is that how well your organization retains and increases its current supporters and how many new supporters it has been able to acquire over the same period directly relates to how sustainable and expandable your organization is.


The key in renewing and enlarging your donor data base is really very simple: to excel, as with so much in fundraising, is consistency in your efforts. It’s not good enough to do the right thing or things–you need to do the right things again...

May 18, 2015

Though I’m certainly no Henry David Thoreau, who urged his readers to ‘Simplify, Simplify, Simplify’ their lives over 150 years ago, leaders who cultivate healthy organizations do so by striving to create clarity or or simplify things.. We see that these are the leaders who are the most successful.


Is it just a coincidence that unhealthy organizations – those with a poor culture and minimal results – got that way because of a lack of clarity around their vision, mission, guiding principles, goals and objectives? I don’t think so.


If you’re interested in your organization’s health, here are 6 specific Points of Clarity that I think you should be talking to your staff about:

  1. Why do we ex...

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