We were having coffee and my friend looked panicky. “What’s the matter?” “Rob, it’s nearly September and I’m not getting out. I haven’t made a visit in a month. My plate is so full right now I can’t imagine finding the time to get a visit. I need a whole day, but it’s not going to happen.” “Do you have ten minutes? “What do you mean? You can’t do major gift fundraising in ten minutes!” As gently as I could, I looked my friend in the eye and said, “Of course you can.” Pay yourself first. For fundraisers that means
“Stories” are all the rage now in fundraising. As they should be. Every nonprofit I know works hard at telling their stories to their donors. But do we ever think about asking our donors to tell us THEIR stories? I was channel-surfing the other night and happened upon one of those “vintage music” shows on PBS. They find old rock-and-roll groups, have a concert, film it, and intersperse the footage with lots of requests for donations to your local PBS station. I know you’ve seen them. It must work, because there’s a raft of those shows. The one I happened
Who would ever imagine I’d be talking about Arianna Huffington? The founder of the Huffington Post never brings a cell phone or tablet or computer of any kind into her bedroom. She “tunes out” 7-8 hours a day. Arianna makes a point of saying that email can be a great liability to us, not an asset. She suggests that we all become slaves to our email, that we often spend the majority of our day reacting to others, rather than proactively pursuing our own ideas and our own agenda for the day. — Here’s an excerpt from the blog, The
It was the best T-shirt I ever saw. Not the color. Not the fit. What it said. “Work at Simple.” Oh, if we only would do that! Fundraising shops work very hard at being complicated. One fundraising software dominates the market. It requires the attention of a full time staff person. That’s common knowledge. Development shops associate “sophisticated” or “advanced” with the most complicated schematics and plans. Ask what’s going on and it can make your head spin! The most brilliant fundraising management philosophy I’ve ever heard: “We believe our job is to remove the roadblocks, the speed bumps that
Kasie Ambrose sat in her parked car, a few doors down the street from Joan Gillespie’s house. It was five minutes to ten in the morning. Kasie knew the drill. Be on time, but don’t be early. She was doing two things at once; trying to breathe, and trying to get the palms of her hands to stop sweating. “Why am I nervous?” she demanded of herself. “This is our third visit! She knows me. The last two went pretty well. I don’t get it.” But Kasie did get it. This visit was supposed to be an ask. Kasie was
I wish I paid more attention to Mr. Rogers when he was alive. The older I get, the more I find myself in awe of the man. Call him a visionary, a quiet voice of reason, or the most sensible person in the room. Fred was all of those. A few weeks ago a very smart, intelligent guy asked me, “Did you ever see Fred Rogers’ testimony to Congress? It helped save public television.” 6 minutes. I beg you to read the article and watch the clip. It will be the single best thing you do today. https://bit.ly/2v91e2i Fred Rogers
I’ve been thinking about Jerry Panas this week. He passed away last Saturday night, the 14th, at age 90. What a full life he lead, and how busy he was! Jerry lived in northwest Connecticut, and yet the office for his consulting firm was in Chicago. I asked him about that once. “Rob, I’m on a plane so much, it just made sense to put the office in the middle!” Do you know that Jerry Panas wrote the best-selling fundraising book of all time, “Asking,” when he was 74? His last book, actually a collection of works by Sy Seymour,
Are you passionate about your job? No? That’s okay. Passion is an overused word. Do you love your job? No? That’s okay, too. Love is a pretty strong word. Can you represent your organization to donors with pride and enthusiasm? No? Houston, we have a problem.
What’s in my fundraising tool kit: National Car Rental’s Emerald Club. The shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car lot. Ever wonder why half the folks on the bus hop out where National’s cars are parked? Because just like the commercial says, they pick any car – and go. A handwritten note with a handwritten envelope and a live stamp. Irresistible to a donor. Guaranteed to be remembered. Like the doctor says, “Two, every day.” Binder clips. If you have paper clips attaching papers in your hard files, the day will come when a crucial piece of paper
Things I like? They come in all shapes and sizes. Summer. And not for the reason you’re thinking! You bet, summer is a great time to recharge the battery but it is also a wonderful time to try something counter-intuitive. Submit grant proposals in the summer. No one else is. Try a creative direct mail campaign. How many other appeals are in the summer mailboxes? And forget about visiting Florida and Arizona donors in January! Everyone else is doing the same thing! Visit them when those donors are dying for company! Trust me, I’ve done it, and it works!