November 28, 2017

For some time now, we’ve been seeing the signs of steady decline in small gifts.

If you’re a fundraiser for an organization that relies heavily on gifts under $250 through direct mail, you need to be thinking seriously about this. Very seriously.

How has this come to be? According to the Institute of Policy Studies, American households earning $100,000+ increased their donation budgets by 40% between 2003 and 2013 while households earning less than $100,000 decreased their donation budgets by 34%.

If you’re saying to yourself, “So what? Year after year Americans give more money. What’s the big deal?” Here’s what this 34% drop in small gifts should mean to you: attracting donors means work an...

September 18, 2017

Picture this: a scruffy man is seated on the sidewalk next to a busy expressway. He has been loading empty beer cans into a plastic bag. After loading four of the cans, the bag breaks open and one of the cans rolls out. And then another.

The man starts yelling profanities as he begins to reload cans into the top. I witnessed this incident from across a parking lot several weeks ago What I saw next was another man offering the poor soul his spare plastic bag. I thought about my own reaction. In short, I didn’t want to get involved. I’ve had bags break on me before, so I know how maddening that can be.

The good Samaritan then spends some time with the man who is still muttering under his brea...

September 15, 2017

If you’ve ever gotten into a conversation about ways to use data to enhance your major and planned giving efforts, the conclusion you came to may well have been that you can take your top-ranked donors, do a wealth screening on them and simply hand them off to a major gifts officer.

Bang! On second thought, bring more TNT!

Wealth screening DOES NOT mean that you can stop mailing and calling your top-ranked donors.


Because it’s not a good indicator

of an individual’s likelihood to make a major gift.

Put bluntly, if you choose to do away with traditional annual fund mail, phone, and email contacts, it’s our experience that you’re going to end up with fewer gifts.

Let’s put this still another...

May 15, 2017

How long have you been in your current position? A year or two, three at the most, I’ll bet. People outside of the development profession are often amazed at the short tenure in this profession.

There have been scores and scores of hard working development staff who have been summarily knocked to their collective knees by those who aren’t knowledgeable about the work you do.

There may be a few good reasons for short stays, but overwhelmingly, the #1 reason is ineffective evaluation. In the 25 years  I’ve worked in this field, I’ve met very few people who are lazy or incompetent. Mostly, the profession has effective, hard-working fundraisers trying to do good work.

Here are my solutions:


October 26, 2016

Especially when it comes to your donors, at least, one size does not fit all. For example, if you’re mailing an impersonal $300 ask to someone you know is capab

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