How to Avoid a Host Committee Mutiny

It’s not that often that a muggle (a non-fundraiser) tells me about a really great fundraising encounter. It’s much more likely that I will hear about an organization that sends too much mail, a boring gala, annoying dinnertime solicitations, etc. The most recent gripe came from someone who was asked to serve on the host committee for a large fundraising event and ended up feeling a little resentful of the process. Given that I am currently working with a host committee of people I do not yet know very well, I was happy to have some insight into the volunteer’s experience.

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How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways…

I recently had a conversation with someone who commented that a nonprofit he used to be very involved with only ever reaches out to him when they want him to buy tickets to a major fundraiser.  Actually, I’ve had variations on this conversation with many people.  And this is an area where I am fully committed to making significant improvements in my new position.  With the recent launch of a major giving society, I have mapped out an annual communications plan will be applied to each major donor.  The overarching premise is that, in addition to the standard phone call and official acknowledgment upon receipt of the gift, we will reach out to them a minimum of four times over the course of a year where we are not asking for any type of support – and that we must do this before another request is made.    And so, this will require us to come up with some creative ways to share updates and give thanks.

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Notes From the Field

You may recall my professional New Year’s resolution to attend 12 fundraising events in 12 months as a way of forcing myself to push through the burnout. While I have been silent on the topic, rest assured that I have been making good on my promise. I have been thinking about the best way to report back on these experiences, and I have decided to take off my fundraising hat and just reflect on the guest experience. First up is Of Course, a benefit for Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Continue reading

As they say in the Church business, “That’ll preach!”

Wow.  Dan Pallotta basically sums up every thought I have had in the last week as I: A. spent a day problem-solving with MBA students at BU’s Link Day a few days after sitting on a nonprofit career panel in which an MBA student voiced an assumption that there is not a place for her in the nonprofit sector, B. launched a search for an entry-level position with an entry-level nonprofit salary, and C. began work on a $250,000 project proposal that won’t cover overhead.  Excuse my run-on sentence, but if this was a revival I would have stood on my chair and shouted AMEN at least 5 times. This is a must-watch for anyone who believes that nonprofit staff deserve rewarding salaries, fundraising and marketing are necessary investments, and overhead is a fact of life. Of course, you will be the proverbial choir to which he is preaching, but you will be left with a sense of affirmation and some well articulated arguments.