Friday Inspirations, Episode 3 :)

Feb 02, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

We're just back from CASE VI, where we got all jazzed up about our work and yours. Advancement peeps are awesome! Thank you, thank you for all you do!

Quote we're digging: 

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."                                                                           - Theodore Roosevelt (and others!)

We're inspired by: Martin Leifeld, Vice Chancellor for Advancement at the University of Missouri, St Louis. Martin has spent a career truly seeking to lift others up. He sees advancement work as "ennobling souls...bringing wonderful people into life as philanthropists." When we asked the secret to good management, he started with authenticity ("let people know who you are") and trust ("you have to fully...

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Friday Inspirations, Episode 2 :)

Jan 26, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

A few thoughts as you finish up your work week...

Quote we're digging: Seems we're all struggling with work/life balance these days. Here's a nice little reminder:

"Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you."                                                                                         - Carl Sandberg

Tricky, but transformative, to remember that you own your time and only you can give it away. We may or may not be great at this, but we're working on it!

We're wowed by:'s collaboration with Stella Artois. Buy a specially designed Stella chalice on Amazon for $13, and Stella makes a donation that provides clean water for someone in the developing world for five...

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Work-Life Balance

Jan 23, 2018

Millie's got work-life balance all figured out.

When she's working, she's all business.

Her best business skills:

Listening - Millie hears everything (especially "walk" and "go get your leash"). She's got great eye contact and reads body language like nobody's business (like all great fundraisers).


Energy - Millie works harder than anyone I know. She runs for miles, hikes, takes long bike rides, chews bones, chases squirrels (and rabbits and opossums and birds), fetches tennis balls, & destroys stuffed animals. And, even after a hard day's work, if you asked her to take a run at midnight, she'd be ready and waiting by the door. She also looks great on camera...

Drive - Millie never does anything half-way. She's all-in. She's got killer focus and ambition.

For all of her amazing work habits, Millie still knows how to relax.

Like, really relax...


Hard work deserves guilt-free relaxation.

As a new fundraiser, work-life balance was one of the hardest things for me.


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Friday Inspirations, Episode 1 :)

Jan 19, 2018

Happy Friday, Generous Changers!

We're about to add a new video, "63 Ways to Thank Your Donor," to Fundraisers' Monthly.

Which got us thinking that we'd like to thank you.

THANK YOU AMAZING CHANGEMAKERS!!. We appreciate you so much.

So we thought we'd begin to celebrate Fridays by sharing a few things that make us happy-dance every week. (We're shamelessly ripping off Tim Ferriss's Five Bullet Friday here, which, btw, we highly recommend.)

Here's what we're celebrating, pondering, fascinated by this week.

We're celebrating the late Maya Angelou's gorgeous quote: 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Making people - donors, colleagues, friends, strangers - feel terrific is a pretty great goal every single day!

We're admiring  Pencils of Promise's outstanding tag-line:

250 MILLION KIDS CAN'T READ THIS | Let's change that

Any doubt about their mission? Try to get that brief,...

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Those Awkward Silences...

Jan 18, 2018

Do you feel like you have to fill every single silence in a donor conversation? 

Do you end up saying weird things, like:

“Woo, it sure is sunny outside. This weather, right?!” or
“Whew, I sure have had a lot of coffee today. Do you like coffee? I really like coffee. A little too much actually. Is it hot in here?”

I’ve used the restroom in the middle of a few donor visits just to talk to myself in the mirror:

“Calm down, crazy. You’re scaring the nice person.”

When you talk to a stranger, there are always awkward moments.

A donor once told me that the person who came to visit him a few years ago was really great, but I seemed nervous.

Which, um, made me nervous!

If you have these moments, try a few things that have helped me (almost) get over it:

  • 80/20 - Listen 80% of the time. Talk 20%. If you’re an extrovert this will be tough, but for my fellow introverts, this can lift the glorious burden of talking and put the emphasis...
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From the Heart - Tips from a (REAL) Donor

Jan 09, 2018

I see you.

Not in a creepy way - but in a great way - like:

I know you.

You're my people.

This is how a donor wants to feel when they get a thank you from you.

How do I know?

I asked a real donor - Kathleen - an amazing, generous woman who gives a lot to a lot of unique causes.

She told me what keeps her giving and what doesn't.

What works:

  • Personal Stories - Kathleen's gifts are emotional and from the heart. She's motivated by individual, micro-level stories about a person (or an animal) who needs help.
  • Heartfelt Thanks - Handwritten notes from staff with just a quick word about how and when her gift was or will be used makes all the difference to Kathleen. She believes even big organizations can do this well, if "they write something that feels like they know you - like they see you."

  • A Real Difference - After she gives, Kathleen wants to feel confident that the organization will use her gift for the purpose they said they would. She doesn't get bogged down in the details or...
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The First Step Toward the Next Gift

Jan 03, 2018

Why do most donors say they've stopped giving to an organization?

They weren't thanked. In multiple studies, from 20% to over 70% of donors say they were never thanked.

We suspect many actually were (most of us send acknowledgement letters or emails) - but the thanks wasn't meaningful or memorable.

How can you be sure your donors feel thanked?

This month, in Fundraisers' Monthly, Nancy and I walk through how to thank your donors so powerfully, they'll want to give again & again, more & more.

Stewardship may seem like someone else's job, but the very best fundraisers know great thanks is the first step toward the next gift.

In fact, great thanks is the 1st through the 7th step toward the next gift.

In his book, Mega Gifts, Jerald Panas states the "Rule of Seven" - thank a donor 7 times before asking again.

Why spend so much time thanking donors?

  • Your best donors are your best donors. The people who already give to you are more likely to give to you. In one study, donors who...
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Phrases to Help Turn the Conversation to Money from the First Visit

Dec 26, 2017

Have you ever neared the end of an amazing conversation with a potential donor and found it awkward to just ask?

It can be so hard to turn the conversation to money. You don't want to feel presumptuous or rude - you don't want to hurry this person along or alienate them. 

But - reminder - if this lovely person is alienated by talking about giving to your org, they're probably not your donor. And you, successful fundraiser, want to spend your precious time with people who are your donors. 

So we want to share a few phrases that have made turning the conversation to money so much easier for us.

  • (Nice person), thanks so much for taking the time to chat. You've mentioned a few of your favorite causes. Can I ask where (our awesome cause) falls on your priority list for giving
  • This has been wonderful - I've loved catching up and hearing about your time at (excellent university). And of course you know it's my job to raise money to...
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Getting the visit. Tip #3. Be brief.

Dec 19, 2017

If you wish more donors would respond to your emails, we are here for you!

Here's tip #3 to write an email to get more visits.
(If you missed the first tips - Look for the Hook and Connect vs. Convince, you can find them here on the blog.)

When you write your next email:

Get to the Point: Be super brief. Say what you mean.

That's it.

But brevity is not easy.

In school, I added ridiculous amounts of redundant sentences and adjectives to essays to beef them up to the "1000-word" mark.

Donor emails are the anti-essay!

Make it phone-readable: More than half of all email is read on a phone.

If you're like me, you scroll to see how long an email is before you even read it.

Less scroll means it'll take less time to read, which boosts your chances of getting a response.

Here's your challenge for less scroll:
Use 4 sentences.

1. Intro: Hello from KU, Susan!
2. The Hook: Your 25-year career at Microsoft is inspiring!
3. Connect: I'd love to learn more about your journey from Lawrence to Seattle...

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Getting the visit. Tip #2. Connect vs. Convince.

Dec 11, 2017

If you wish more donors would respond to your emails, we are here for you!

This is tip #2 to write an email to get more visits.
If you missed the first tip - Look for the Hook - you can find it here.

Think about this when you write your next email:

Connect vs. Convince: It can be so easy to fall into the trap of including links, facts, figures and stats in the hope of educating someone into meeting with you.

But, what are the chances someone will actually click on those links?

Will they actually read an attached one-pager or brochure?

If they do click on a link, will they come back to your email and actually respond?

For years, as a higher-ed fundraiser, I wrote email novels.

I included quotes from faculty, links to student stories and bulleted "fun facts" about new programs.

I labored over those emails. The results? 1 visit for every 10 emails.

When I finally realized, I would never respond to one of my own damn emails - why would anyone else?

I refocused with the goal...

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