August 18, 2016

If you want to energize a board and other volunteers  that are less than, shall we say, impassioned, here are some recommendations to give them a good, old kick (I mean jumpstart):

  • Offer regular reports on major initiatives that are being funded;

  • Present campaign updates often;

  • Explain budget and funding needs more completely;

  • Clarify what you need them to do…don’t make them guess;

  • Don’t focus only on fundraising;

  • Communicate and have more contact with board members between meetings and in different ways;

  • Acknowledge and give feedback to volunteers who introduce prospects;

  • Understand board and volunteer preferences and their experience;

  • Create a...

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 10, 2015

Last night, right in the middle of a Chicago Bears Monday Night Football game, I got a call that offers a teaching moment.


Here’s how the call went:


(me): “Hello”


(Male voice on the other end of phone): “Uh, hello? Um?”


(Me): “Yes, hello. What can I do for you?”


(Male voice): “Is Mr. or Mrs. Raskagno available?”


(Me): “This is Ron Rescigno.”


(Male voice): “This is [unintelligible] calling for [large university nonprofit]. I’m not calling to ask you for money, but to ask you to write about 10-15 letters [he then went on for another minute or so].


(Me): “Thanks, but that’s not how we participate in the nonprofits we su…”


He hung up on me as soon as he understood that I was saying no. 


I too...

October 13, 2015



A missed opportunity for

many nonprofits is the way donors like to be engaged. For the most part, organizations offer a variety of ways for donors to engage, including sending a check in the mail to monthly giving to advocacy actions they can take.


However, many organizations don’t offer donors the option to donate goods and services, show support by buying products, or add a donation at checkout.


Additional ways you might engage donors in your cause:

  • Emails or e-newsletters

  • Option to “follow” on social media

  • Volunteering time

  • Volunteering leadership role

  • Donation in honor or tribute

  • Shared information on social media

  • Fundraising events


Extending thi...

June 29, 2015

You always have a goal of growing your donor base and there are many ways of doing that which include marketing, social media, and special events. However, I find that many organizations overlook a source of donations that’s staring them in the face.


These are the people who organize your auctions or drive senior citizens to doctor’s appointments or load delivery vans or work in your thrift store or…by now, I’m sure you get the picture. Your best potential donors are your current volunteers.


Yes, volunteers are natural donors and 2 recent studies highlighted the connection between volunteering for and donating to an organization:


a 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy...

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