Things I wish Boards knew #1

A “prospect” is not “someone we’ve heard has money.”

Here are some things I’ve been told as a consultant:
  • We have a portfolio of prospects, we just need someone to manage the relationships.
  • We have more than 100 local prospects who are waiting to be contacted.
  • Each of our board members has provided a list of 10 prospects, but our development staff hasn’t been able to close a single gift.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation on this theme…and not once has it been what I would call “true.” Read more

Don’t forget to laugh

Someone forwarded me an article yesterday on sleep deprivation and mothers of young children.  A sweet and hilarious personal essay recounting great stories like “I walked into a wall and sent my kid to school with an onion instead of an apple” and “that time when I almost fell asleep while walking a couple of blocks with my kid in a baby carrier.”  When you truly love the best parts of your job (yes, being a mom is a job – though it won’t pay the bills and it’s *really* hard to quit), you can laugh at the ridiculous bits.  You know, the ridiculous bits that test your every limit and make you want to cry or hit something; the ridiculous bits that might make someone who’s never experienced such a thing smile, but makes instant compatriots out of those who share the experience and gives members of the sister/brotherhood a chance to laugh loudly and deeply, with real guffaws.  I personally laugh in the face of utter exhaustion. Read more

Housekeeping and apologies

Fridays for You – this week on Monday.  Alas, I am having trouble with the auto-publish feature on this blog.

It’s probably me.  Safe money is that I’m doing something wrong.  But still, for the next week, bear with me as I publish irregularly.  I have a consulting practice that will take most of my time for a few days.

I’ll do my best!!!

And hey – this is a great opportunity to rename my personal development/leadership posts.  Any ideas?

Article Review: For Academics

There is a strange thing that happens in Academia.  Scholars who get promoted into high enough administrative positions suddenly find themselves with fundraising duties.

Here’s a great essay from one such gentleman, David D. Perlmutter, who found himself the Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa, and reflects on how he learned to fundraise.

The title says it all: Don’t Fear Fundraising.   Read more

Quick Tips: Shake up your mailing calendar

A lot of folks use the summer to plan their full calendar of mailings.  Are you still sending two big mailings a year, once in December, to capitalize on the tax year ending, and once in the late Spring, before the summer but a reasonable distance from that holiday mailing?

You’ve got plenty of company, which may offer some comfort…but a lot of folks in nonprofit management positions (including development) tend to be very risk averse, so “best practices” and “wisdom of the masses” tend to get conflated.

You don’t NEED to shake things up.  But maybe you should.   Read more

Article Review: Millenials matter – here’s why

Alana Ramo wrote a nice piece over at Policymic about the philanthropic power of today’s young adults: Millenials Aren’t Millionaires, But We’re Great Philanthropists.

She’s right.  There’s a lot of giving power in today’s 20-30 year olds, and they’re breaking a lot of “rules” when it comes to supporting causes and missions.  That scares a lot of people, who are uncomfortable having to learn new ways of doing business.  You don’t have that luxury.   Read more

Back to Basics: What is Cultivation?

When I was thinking of starting this blog, I asked friends and clients for questions that they’d like me to answer – anonymously (for them) so no one would think they were stupid.  This is the second most frequent question I got.  And since I put up some posts describing the very basics of major gift fundraising, I’ve been getting variations on this theme – now that I’ve met with a prospective donor, I know that I’m supposed to “cultivate” them and then “solicit” them…but what does cultivation really mean?  What am I supposed to be doing???  How will I know when I’m done cultivating and it’s time to solicit?

So let’s pick up where we left off: You get a meeting, you psych yourself up, you go, and you rock it out with confidence and good listening skills.  Congrats!  You are now in the cultivation phase. Read more