Category Archives: Fundraising Q&A

Working Effectively with a Board of Directors

I’ve served on my fair share of boards. Some are better than others, whether for-profit … Read More

Fundraising Q&A: I am being told that we need to take a completely different approach with millennial donors. Do you agree?

Well, yes and no. There is a great deal of hype in the media about Millennials so I am not surprised that you are feeling some pressure to reassess your fundraising methods. Each generation has its own culture, reflective of the world it has inherited and shaped, so perhaps it is a healthy exercise. Read More

Fundraising Q&A: Your blog on the importance of communications was very helpful. Any new tips?

I recently attended the board meeting of a community hospital that I admire for its good management and was embarking on a fundraising campaign. The Development Director presented a list of “identified areas for philanthropic support” intended for use with major donors, for discussion.

In reviewing the hospital’s list, it occurred to me that another problem is that needs lists – and fundraising communications in general – all too often fail to explain the why’s and the how’s, in terms that are meaningful to donors. Read More

Annual Report Suggestions

First of all, allow me to congratulate you in having an annual report at all; many nonprofits don’t! Those that do make the effort often produce something with lots of pictures and few facts, or take a limited (often internal) perspective. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) offers what I consider to be a much better model for annual reporting. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: We want to rename a building but are concerned about alienating the donor it was originally named after. Suggestions?

Naming a building after a major benefactor is a time-honored tradition and one way to express the institution’s gratitude. It is almost, inevitable, however, that the building will outlive its usefulness and be torn down or radically altered (probably with the assistance of another donor) eventually. So, start “being careful” from the start, when you are crafting the gift agreement. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: Any new learnings about how to advance the causes you care about?

I am increasingly convinced that while the cause may be important, communications about the cause are even more important. One piece of new philanthropic research points to a perhaps obvious but often overlooked truth: If potential donors and volunteers are not aware of existing needs, they will be less likely to engage in philanthropic behavior. Also, more often than not people respond to a perceived need, rather than an objective need. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: What advice can you offer an entrepreneur on how to be philanthropic from the beginning?

As an entrepreneur, you will be building and leading an enterprise. That gives you an opportunity – if not a responsibility – to encourage all members of the organization to contribute to the community and broader society. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: Is Reputational Risk Something Nonprofits Should Worry About?

The recent Volkswagen meltdown is a chilling corporate example of Buffet’s warning. It also illustrates this oft-heard advice: “Better to be proactive than reactive.” (Or, as the Chinese proverb goes, “Build the well before you are thirsty.”) Nonprofits are not immune.
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Fundraising Q/A: What are your views on professional telemarketing?

Many universities engage their students in fundraising, to reach out to alumni for donations and/or send letters of thanks for gifts. That tradition, however, seems to be changing and perhaps not for the better. We thought you might appreciate this (disguised!) letter from one donor to his university alma mater. Read More

Fundraising Q/A: Are restricted gifts an effective philanthropic vehicle, or an unnecessary drain on organizational resources?

The CFO of a social service nonprofit wrote to make the point that restricted gifts are not an effective vehicle. “My rule of thumb,” she said, “is that adding restrictions to gifts is like adding a 7% tax since we have to spend a significant amount of time managing those restrictions.” “What do you think?” she asked. My short answer: Restricted gifts clearly are a two-edged sword. Read More