Q: What are the basic rules for maintaining tight and effective messaging? How long should appeal letters be? How often can you quote your group’s mission before it’s over-used? How do you get the average reader to care enough to get involved?

A: There are a lot of questions, but as the answers are relatively short, I will answer them all: What are the basic rules for maintaining tight and effective messaging? How long should appeal letters be? Short, sweet and to the point.  Personally, I think a letter that is longer than a page … [Read more...]

Q. What goes into long-term cultivation of prospective donors over time, when the expected ‘pay-off’ may be far into the future?

  A. Long-term cultivation is indeed the ideal path to enhanced relationships and, ultimately, larger donations. And just as each donation may be independent of others yet part of a larger campaign, each cultivation should be tailored to the individual yet part of an overall … [Read more...]

Q: How can one person cultivate, solicit and steward prospects and donors as well as run a series of major fundraising events?

A. We have received quite a few questions in our annual survey on this topic. Let’s face it, there are fewer people having to do more and more every day. The simple answer is time management and prioritization. The more complicated answer is that there is no way to meet, let alone exceed, all … [Read more...]

Q. What do I need to consider when fundraising during a recession?

A. Recently, my husband and I decided to sell our condominium. While it is tempting to use this forum for a sales pitch (MLS#: 70749691), the truth is that our place is ideal for first time buyers. The general consensus on first-time buyers in the current economic climate is that sellers need … [Read more...]

Q. How can I get lay leaders to participate in training for both governance and solicitation?

A. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?” Unfortunately, I am only half kidding. Getting lay leaders to participate is a matter of changing the culture of the organization. And without letting the lay leaders off of the hook – there must be … [Read more...]

How Do You Motivate Volunteers?

Q. How do you stimulate volunteers who offered themselves to be active leaders but who are not behaving that way? In other words: how to do you motivate volunteers? A. The inherent problem in the volunteer relationship to an organization is that it is a volunteer relationship. Speaking from … [Read more...]

Q. What goes into long-term cultivation of prospective donors over time, when the expected ‘pay-off’ may be far into the future?

A. Long-term cultivation is indeed the ideal path to enhanced relationships and, ultimately, larger donations.  And just as each donation may be independent of others yet part of a larger campaign, each cultivation should be tailored to the individual yet part of an overall strategy. Look at each … [Read more...]

Q. Can we run multiple campaigns simultaneously without cannibalizing the annual campaign effort?

A. The biggest problem with running simultaneous campaigns is the potential for confusion. The Donor If a donor is asked to donate to 3 different campaigns from the same organization, he/she is unlikely to give to all of them – or at least not at a meaningful level. If you announce all of the … [Read more...]

Q. What’s so special about the University model of fundraising and fundraising via Friends’ associations?

A. University-based fundraising requires the same planning and diligence as other nonprofits. However, the university model has some amazing advantages. With a continually growing alumni base (read: funding source) who enjoy a shared experience the memory of which becomes better with each passing … [Read more...]

Q. How do we do fundraising without too much exertion?

A. At first look, this question is the epitome of stereotypical American culture. So much so, that I almost took it as a joke and deleted it. And then, I decided that if it was intended to be heard with a bit of sarcasm, it was too common a question and deserved an answer. Sometimes it is stated … [Read more...]