How to Embrace a Challenge Gift

I think we can all agree that a challenge gift is both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that the gift will most likely leverage new money from new donors.  Challenge gifts can also be a much needed jolt for a board of directors that needs to step up their efforts.  The curse is that the process will be an awful lot of work.  When the challenge comes from a foundation, you can expect a lengthy set of guidelines that give a clear understanding of what is expected.  However, when the challenge comes from an individual donor, the details can get a little murky.  I have worked with several donors on pledges ranging from 2k to 20K and many lessons have been learned.

(This is what raising 20K from new funders in one night feels like.)

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Well Played, ZUMIX and Artists for Humanity!

Early on I wrote a post about how to get your annual appeal opened, which I consider to be a sizable hurdle in any direct mail campaign.  Basically, the appeal package should be interesting in both look and feel and also have some personal touches.  As an example of a mailer that does every single thing right, check out this appeal from ZUMIX: Continue reading

New Year’s Resolution, Round 2

writingLast year my professional resolution was to volunteer or attend 12 fundraising events in an effort to overcome my events burnout.  I am happy to report that I was successful, and that a new job has given me a new outlook.

This year I am resolving to improve my handwriting.  At its best, my writing is legible.  At its worst, it would be mistaken for that of a 6 year old.  As a fundraiser I firmly believe in the power of the (hand)written word.  I address envelopes and postcards whenever it is practical.  I send tickets with handwritten invitations.  I write a note on pretty much everything I can. And yet, practice has not made perfect.

I recognize that my handwriting, in this context, is a reflection of who I am, the quality of my work, and the brand of my organization.  When people flip through their mail and see an envelope I addressed I want them to think “hmm, looks fancy, I wonder what this is” – not, “oh my God it’s a ransom note!”

And so, very soon, I will be taking a calligraphy workshop and selecting my professional script.  While it will certainly take time to make the new style flow, I am committed to shaping up and I will share my progress along the way.