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....

June 11, 2015

A few years back, right around the time the Chicago Blackhawks were beginning their renaissance as a meaningful sports franchise in Chicago, their head coach at the time, Hall of Famer, Dennis Savard, in a fit of pique after a particularly poor performance, said to the assembled press, “If they (the players) don’t want to commit to the indian, we can go upstairs and get them out of here.”  The slogan spread like wild fire throughout the city of Chicago. It is still a popular rallying cry today.


I’m reminded of that saying today as I consider the increasingly important role of yearly donor acquisition to any fundraising program.


Back just a few short years ago boards of directors, hesitant...

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...

April 29, 2015

Today, while returning from a visit to a customer in the NW suburbs of Chicago, Sue and I stopped at one of our favorite places to enjoy a hot dog for lunch. If you’re from Chicago chances are strong you’ve had a Gene & Jude’s hot dog. To say that they are a bastion of Chicago style fast food is an understatement. Steamed bun, relish, and yellow mustard– yummmm!


I’m telling you about this because after we had placed our order for 2 hot dogs, Sue innocently asked if there was any ketchup.  You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone looked at us like we were from a far-away planet. Sheepishly, Sue said, “I meant do you have any ketchup for the fries.“


Now you can walk into this joint any day...

April 23, 2015









Donor milestones are important.  Recognizing them is a powerful way to nurture and strengthen relationships with your donors.  Acknowledging these times helps to turn milestones into a real pathway to donor cultivation.  Think of the following as stepping stones:


  • Lifetime Giving Revenue

  • Annual Giving Club

  • Lifetime # of Gifts

  • # of Years Giving

  • # of Consecutive Years of Giving

Identifying and recognizing these milestones is critical.  For example, you can recognize the donor who is just $100 away from $5,000 in lifetime giving or 2 gifts away from his 50th gift to your nonprofit (and encourage him to reach the next plateau or milestone).


3 keys to...

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