New Years Resolution, Round 3

I am happy to report that once again I made good on my resolution, to improve my handwriting in 2014. Now that my position has advanced to include a lot more cultivation and stewardship, I appreciate the ability to write notes that don’t look like ransoms.

This year, my professional resolution is to end the year speaking more Spanish than I did when I started.  Personally, I am planning to run more, read more books, and eat more chocolate.


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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Building a Better Appeal Letter

A few weeks ago I wrote about annual appeals, specifically the packaging, and have been meaning to followup with my thoughts on content. I have seen increasing success with this effort over the past few years. This year I am thrilled to say that our goal was exceeded by about 10%, and the number continues to rise  There are many approaches one can take, but at the end of the day this is an exercise in persuasive writing and there are some common elements that will make your letter more effective. Continue reading

Well played, Jimmy Fund!


This campaign seems to fall in line with the age-old wisdom that “if you ask for money you get advice, and if you ask for advice you get money.” Good for them for killing two birds with one stone by asking for advice about raising money! I do not envy the extreme amount of work it will take to adsorb all of the interest that will be generated, but I have no doubt that if I could find a way to scale this to fit my own organization there would be a bountiful harvest of volunteers, board candidates, and donor prospects.


If you host it, will I come?

A wise man once said, “If you build it, they will come.” That man does not plan fundraising events.

You may recall my recent post about fundraising events, my burnout, and my pledge to seek inspiration. This is a topic that has been weighing on my mind lately. One of the challenges of fundraising events is that it is just so darn hard to get people to attend. And, honestly, I can’t blame them. If you invite me to an event, if I receive, read, and remember the invitation, and if I think it sounds like a great event – there is about a 25% chance that I will attend.

If I think about my own motivations, it helps me think about how to frame an invitation.

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