Fundraising Q/A: “Youth philanthropy” seems to be a new buzzword. Do you have any experience with or thoughts about it?


I am a strong believer in raising children to feel a sense of responsibility to the community. That’s how I was raised, and that’s an attitude and behavior that I have tried to model for my children. It can start early, in small ways. Read More

The Fenn School: A Youth In Philanthropy Case Study


The Fenn School, located in Concord MA, is a private, independent day school for boys in grades 4-9. In 2006, the Foundation for MetroWest brought its signature Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program to the Fenn School. (Prior to that, it had been running a privately-funded giving program.) Read More

Fundraising Q&A: Do you have any suggestions for raising funds to build a new charter school in a low income area?


I will be doing some private fundraising for a tax supported charter school in a low income area. Do you have any suggestions as to our best approach to potential donors including foundations? The primary objective is to build a new neighborhood school, for which about $3M in private funds will be required.
I should start by saying that I don’t think foundations are a good target. Many don’t like capital projects because they don’t directly serve a nonprofit’s purpose. Read More

How-to: Questions for fundraising leadership


Why do it and how can you do it better? In our experience, fundraising can be an extremely rewarding – yes, even fun! – experience. So, how can you do it better? Making sure you can answer the “four big questions” is essential, but so are donor-centered and entrepreneurial perspective, and attention to fundraising leadership. Read More

Fundraising Q&A: I’ve been reading negative press about challenge gifts. What do you think?


You may (or may not!) be referring to the hype around Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s $500 million challenge gift to Oregon Health & Science University. Some people seem to see it as a positive thing; it will boost philanthropy as a whole and attract new donors to a variety of causes, they say. But, others are worried. Personally, I think that fear of major donor poaching to be a little suspect, even whiny. How committed are they, if they’ll jump ship at the drop of a hat (or a few bucks)? How engaged are they in your work in general, and the work that their dollars are funding in particular? Are you communicating (remember – show and tell) the impact that your organization and their funds are having? Do they have concerns about management, or feel less than satisfied with their experience? The onus is on you to build and sustain the relationship. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: What is “crowdfunding,” and do you recommend it for nonprofit fundraising?


Crowdfunding basically involves collecting money from backers – the “crowd” – for a for- profit or nonprofit initiative, usually on an Internet platform.

There’s no denying that crowdfunding is hot. There are a variety of flavor of crowdfunding out there, and a lot of hype. In the nonprofit world, crowdfunding is more useful for a participative fundraising strategy (i.e., getting a lot of people to give a little something) than significant gift fundraising, I believe. I also must state the obvious: It ain’t free. As with any approach, you have to weigh the costs and the benefits. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: How can we raise money faster?


Faster isn’t always better, especially when it comes to soliciting major gifts. But, by sharpening your focus, you can improve your results and make your donors happier. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: What do you think about debt as a funding source?


A lot of organizations borrow money, but don’t forget – you have to pay it back! You’re just postponing the day of reckoning. You also have to be careful what you’re doing it for. Read More

How to Seal the Deal


It’s not a sexy topic, but the nitty-gritty of formalizing gift agreements is important. As the saying goes: “Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done, and even then it’s not done.” Don’t assume you have a deal until the prospect has actually signed the contract and the check clears. Only then does she officially become a “donor.” Read More

Fundraising Q/A: What has your experience been with family philanthropy?


I can talk about that from both sides of the equation: the giving and the getting. Especially when it comes to a significant gift, a spouse and/or other family member often is involved. If there’s a family foundation, its staff will come into play as well. The fundraiser needs to determine who the real decision makers are, and be especially aware of who has veto power. Read More