Sister Jean’s Seven Secrets to a Long and Happy Life

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“Cent’anni!” is an Italian toast that translates “to a hundred years!” I imagine if someone offered that toast to Sister Jean today she would smile and think to herself, “Been there, done that.” Sister Jean’s 100th birthday was reported this morning on news outlets from HLN to ESPN.  She is universally beloved, admired and respected. Do we ever wonder why that is so?  There’s really no “wonder” to it.  Sister Jean’s secrets to a long and happy life are right there for all the world to see: Smile.  As often and long as you possibly can.  A smile makes those

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Reunions as a Window to Human Nature

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According to his website, “William Zinsser is a lifelong journalist and nonfiction writer—he began his career on the New York Herald Tribune in 1946—and is also a teacher, best known for his book On Writing Well, a companion held in affection by three generations of writers, reporters, editors, teachers and students.” I first read this essay more than 25 years ago.  I regret I don’t know where it was published and believe me, I looked.  Please enjoy William Zinsser’s “On Reunions, Friendship, and Survival.” — Reunions.  The very word sends anxiety through the populace.  To go or not to go? 

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Gift Vehicles that Donors Love

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“Rob, your choice of words sometimes.  The Great Recession scared the ‘what’ out of people?” The bejeebers.  The Great Recession scared the bejeebers out of a great many people and they still remember it. Seriously.  Making an outright current gift in cash to charity has lost a bit of its luster these past few years in favor of remembering causes important to the donor in their will or estate plan, or via other gift vehicles I call “The Big Three.” What to do about that? The first thing I suggest is to turn to page Six of The Weekday Blog. 

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The Granddaddy of Charitable Giving Research

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To fully appreciate Giving USA it helps to know where it came from. 65 years ago, a consortium of fundraising consulting firms was known as the AAFRC – the American Association of Fundraising Counsel.  They decided it would be a good idea to figure out who in America was giving money to what.  And from those humble beginnings was born the granddaddy of research publications we know today. https://givingusa.org/about/ The most frequent use of the Giving USA data is the quick snapshot we give to board members, trying to explain that individual donors (now and through their estates) give the

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A Huge New Fundraising Resource

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I do not think it’s exaggerating to say this is the biggest news in fundraising research in the last five years: https://www.propublica.org/nerds/new-search-full-text-of-3-million-nonprofit-tax-records-for-free I will let the article and the resource speak for itself. Suffice to say that if researching other nonprofits, and nonprofits that support them, leaders and board members at those nonprofits, you’d be wise to get familiar with this immense new contribution from ProPublica.

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A Lesson for the Ages

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11 years ago Tiger Woods was on top of the world.  He was the best golfer of his time.  Wealthy beyond imagination.  A beautiful wife, homes, boats, friends, you name it. He was also smug, cocky, abrupt and a serial cheater. Then he got his comeuppance. When Tiger would swing a golf club the twisting, or torque, was more than his back could endure.  It gave out.  He would swing a club and literally collapse on the ground.  His golf game evaporated as had his marriage. Conventional wisdom held Tiger would never again make a cut in a golf tournament,

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Getting Your Heart Broken

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I was thinking this past week about the biggest gift I never got. He was a very successful investor and an equally successful philanthropist. What I remember most is that he was a very nice man. He lived on the priciest block of real estate in Chicago.  Going to lunch with him was an “invigorating experience.”  Believe me when tell you, he was in the big leagues. One of the smartest people I ever met, he was not particularly intimidating, yet somehow you felt the need to be at your best.  I won’t be so intrusive of his memory to

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What is a Gift?

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Has anyone ever asked you what a gift is? One morning I was having breakfast with the late Jimmie Alford who, by the way, was a very nice man.  I asked him, “We talk about gifts all the time, but how exactly would you define a gift?” “Rob, that’s a very good question, actually.  No one’s every asked me that before, I confess.  Can you give me some time to think about it?” Here’s what Jimmie sent me: “We define a gift as any asset conveyed by the donor to the ownership of the organization that can be applied to

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The Fundraising Trifecta

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I was at a conference and got to know a talented development professional who was new to our field.  During a break from the morning session, this young man turned to me and said, “You know, Rob, the very best thing about development is that everybody wins. “The donor wins. “The institution wins. “And the development officer wins.  I love that about our work.” I told him and I will tell you, those are profound words.

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