Do We Forget to Ask?

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

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

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Being Strategically Selfish

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

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. 

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

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

“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

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

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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Should Board Members “Give and Get”?

By Rob Cummings Briefing Emails

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

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Gift Vehicles that Donors Love

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

“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

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

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

By Rob Cummings Featured Content

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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Gifts of Mutual Fund Shares

By Rob Cummings Gifts in kind

Many more Americans these days own shares in mutual funds than own individual stock.  So you’d think gifts to nonprofits of mutual fund shares would be much more commonplace than gifts of stock. You’d think so, and I thought so once, but that is not the case.  The typical development shop will see stock gifts every so often (if you let your donors know you accept them, and how to convey that gift).  Gifts of mutual fund shares are somewhat rare, actually. Here’s what to do when you receive that gift of mutual fund shares. I’m sorry to say it

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