An excerpt from “Winning: The Five Truths of Fundraising:” I was having coffee with a friend of mine. She’s the director of development for a wonderful nonprofit. Among other things we were talking about our year-end totals and all the thank-you letters those gifts precipitate. My friend had a sad look on her face. I asked if anything was the matter. “No, sorry. We had a really great year end. Very fortunate. A lot of hard work by our team. I just had a personal experience with a thank you that wasn’t so great.” I asked, if it wasn’t prying,
In “Winning: The Five Truths of Fundraising,” we write that every development professional makes a decision about the kind of fundraiser he or she wants to be. Do I permit the “stuff” that appears every day to dictate how I spend my time? Or do I make visits, growing relationships and inviting investment my priority? Do I wallow in endless events and direct mail because “we don’t have any major donors,” or do I invest the effort to begin those relationships? How many times do we hear, “You can be whoever you want to be?” We just have to decide
You’re not going to like this very much. In fact, it might upset you. Why? Because many fundraisers believe it is their responsibility, their duty, to be stressed at this time of year. In just the same way as many nonprofit organizations and their CEOs believe it is their duty to be “doomed to struggle.” They like struggling. Revel in it. More about that tomorrow. For right now, do you feel stressed? It is the worst thing you can do. Stop it. Three very bad things happen when you allow stress to take over. And yes, being stressed is a
From the Foreword to “Winning: The Five Truths of Fundraising:” “‘Rob, there’s a book in there somewhere.’ “In 11 years of writing the Weekend Briefing I heard that gentle nudge from many of my heroes in our profession. “So I set out to find that book. It took a while, but I did. ‘Winning’ brings together the best of the Weekend Briefing with the most important fundraising lessons I’ve learned in the last four decades.” From the moment I typed the first story to the last edit I kept nodding my head and saying to myself, “Yep. This is it.
Are you a student of philanthropy? Or a student of fundraising? There’s a difference. Students of philanthropy discover WHY donors feel motivated to support a cause. Students of fundraising learn HOW the invitation is extended to do that. Either way, every so often we students need to do more than give it a passing glance or a quick read. Being a student calls us to hunker down and actually study. We can study the elements of a transformational gift and, when we do, discover the similarities in most leadership gifts. It’s remarkable how often the same things are evident. We
6:45AM. The first seriously cold morning of the fall. Nursing a cup of coffee that really hit the spot and channel-surfing the news shows. I came upon the Bloomberg Business Channel. The guest was Michelle Seitz, CEO of Russell Investments, $300 billion under management. I thought it might be good to listen. She said all the things you’d expect about her profession but the “moment” came at the very end. Seitz was musing for a bit, talking about women in the finance industry and she said, “Women in our business need to learn how to be strategically selfish.” Strategically selfish.
“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
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?
Earlier today a subscriber to the Briefing wrote me with this question: “Should board members be expected to ‘give and get?’ From last night’s Weekend Briefing, I’m not sure about your thoughts on this. We have new leadership on our board and trying to get our board more engaged in fundraising. Everyone I know at other nonprofits tells me ‘give and get’ is a must. “What do you think?” That’s actually a very good question. Here are a few things to consider. If you have a specific number for both “give” and “get” you may miss out on a board
“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.