Author Archives: Abigail Harmon

The Latest and Greatest Appeal Letter Essentials

Even though I write and edit appeal letters every year — often for multiple organizations — I still think it is important to make sure I know the Latest and Greatest appeal letter trends.

Yes, I did mean trends.

There was a point in time that fundraisers regularly:

  • Showed people looking their worst
  • Sent a coin or stamp with the appeal in hopes of guilting someone into giving (you can decide if the calendars and return address labels do the same thing)
  • Told how desperate the nonprofit is and how they might not survive without this gift
  • Explained every detail about the nonprofit in the appeal
  • Talked only about the nonprofit’s needs
  • Mailed to thousands of people they never previously had contact with

In my 19 years of fundraising, I have seen the theories change about what will work in an appeal. I’m not sure if that is because fundraising has changed, or the world has changed. Either way, I do research at the start of every Appeal season to make sure I will help my clients get the best results.

I have compiled my thoughts into two lists:

  • Show impact that the prospective donor can have on your nonprofit’s beneficiaries — tangible results that will only happen with the donor’s support.
  • Use “you” twice as much as “us” or “we.” This is about the donor — not the nonprofit.
  • Call to Action with multiple asks spread throughout your annual appeal letter, call outs, and in a P.S. This is not a donor update — this is an annual APPEAL letter. Remind the prospective donor of the need and the impact that they can provide right now.
  • Why now? That is a question that should be easily answered by the reader. If there is no sense of urgency, there is no need to give now.
  • Use bullets, bolded wordselements in color, and/or italicized. Even if you don’t want to read this whole article today, you can skim it to get the gist. The same is true of your annual appeal letter.
  • Don’t forget the P.S. That is the most read element of your letter, so make it count with a call to action.
  • Have a segmentation strategy that will allow you to speak to different constituents in different ways. This could be members / non-members, parents / alumni / students, non-donors / current donors / lapsed donors / first-time donors, New Englanders/West Coasters/Midwesterners/Southerners, or whatever makes sense for your organization. The more personal it feels, the more likely someone will see themselves in the role of the donor making the impact.
  • Be grateful for previous gifts. Thankful for future gifts. And send many thank you’s in between.

Strategies for Your Appeal Letter That Never Grow Old

  • Have a strong, compelling case for giving. Non-negotiable. If you can’t clearly articulate why someone should give to you this December/Spring/Summer, they won’t think to give to you at this time.
  • Remind people why they are involved in your organization and want to give. This letter is going to your mailing list which means you don’t have to explain your mission and vision. But you do have to tell them why they should give to you at this time.
  • Tell a story. The type of story changes over time from sad to happy to impactful, but being able to show who the donor is helping and why is always important. This also gives you a head start on what data to provide in your donor updates and thank you notes.
  • Start strong. The first few words will captivate a reader and encourage them to continue or have them skipping down to the bullets, bold, and italicized words.
  • Limit the ideas introduced. This is not the opportunity to describe every program and the needs. That can be explained in the annual or impact report.
  • Ask directly. This is not the time to use flowery, descriptive language. This is the time to ask if the donor will consider a gift of $X,XXX to help 134 teenagers learn how to respond to antisemitism this coming summer.
  • Include a goal, if possible.
  • Show your appreciation for previous support. It’s easy to do and helps donors feel like you know and care about them.
  • Personalize. This has not always been the case (Dear Friend), but it has been enough years that you should know who you are asking if they are on your list.
  • Make it easy to reply. Online, response slips, QR codes, URL, check, credit card, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, contact information for the office, and any other option that will make it easy for someone to give a gift.

One last piece of advice. Start now. It will take you a few versions, your colleagues or boss will want to review it, the designer will need time, and the mailing always takes longer than you would like.

If you ever want to talk about your donor strategies and what you can do to improve them, click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us.

Craft Your Major Donor Stewardship Strategy

A few years ago I wrote an article, “What Would You Do With 1,000 New Donors?”I think this is the time to write a follow up. The more I talk to people now the more I start to question what would you do with 10 new major donors? Or even five.

Everyone wants more major donors. And everyone talks about wanting additional major donors.

Many organizations now use technology to uncover prospective major donors from their current list. But I have realized that if you are not at a large nonprofit with staff dedicated to stewardship like a university or hospital, you might not know what do with those new major donors.

I don’t mean the money, I’m sure you have 15 ways that you could spend it. I mean the stewardship plan. How would you keep in touch with those five people?

Would you send different or additional acknowledgements to those new major donors? Would they get a personal call from someone? Who would that be? Do you have a way to track their interests and send them articles that may interest them? Or personally invite them to an event?

Are you thinking something like:

  • “We will cross that bridge when we get to it.” 
  • “From your mouth to God’s ear.” 
  • “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.” 

You are not alone. But those responses are all indicators that you are not stewarding the donors you already have. And that you have probably squandered more than one potential donor in the past.

You should have an acknowledgement and stewardship plan for each type of donor you have and whom you hope to have.

  • Will someone who gives $1,000 or $10,000 get a phone call from the President of the board? A handwritten note from the Executive Director? An offer for lunch from the senior development professional?
  • Did the donor that just told you they put you into their estate plan receive a special thank you note or additional recognition somewhere?
  • If someone told you their friend — also a donor to the nonprofit — was talking about a prospective donation — would you reach out? Would you know what to say?

While you can cross that bridge when you get to it, your excitement may overshadow the work that has to be done to gain that donor. The conversation of where and when to announce the huge gift(s) and how to tell every board member takes over. And that can lead to a lack of stewardship for the donor. And that, in turn, leads to fewer gift renewals.

Here is the advice. Plan ahead with a formal, disciplined, detailed stewardship plan. And if you would like counsel on how to create your stewardship plan, sign up for a free, 30-minute consultation. Our goal at MJA is to make sure you are prepared for an $18 or a $1,000,000 gift.

Why He Joined This Board (AKA The Importance of Time, Talent, and Treasure)

Board MemberI was in a meeting recently promoting 100% board participation in the annual fund when a board member stated, in no uncertain terms, that the board benefits from his expertise, he doesn’t also have to give financially. He doesn’t believe you have to give time, talent, and treasure.

I can think of multiple arguments as to why this is an incorrect view of the situation:

  • Board members should offer both financial support and thoughful counsel to a nonprofit – providing only one and not the other is only fulfilling half of a board member’s responsibility.
  • Organizations are asked about the percentage of board giving – if board members won’t fully commit financially – why should a foundation?
  • The member who only gives advice is relying on others to financially support the ideas he provides, implying that he doesn’t believe in them sufficiently to invest his own money in the vision.

But, in truth, I was left wondering, why he joined this board in the first place.

Anyone who works with nonprofits as staff or in a volunteer capacity knows that nonprofits are always encouraging and cultivating volunteers to serve on their board. This person, we’ll call him Joe, opted onto this board. Was it because he is passionate about the mission? Maybe his friends encouraged him? Or, possibly, he likes the way it rounds out his resume as someone who gives back?

Whatever the reason – passion, peer pressure, or prestige – he is rewarded for his participation. The idea that he thinks that his expertise is enough presumes that he is better suited, more of an expert, or simply more valuable than other members of the board. And while there may be extremely unique situations in which this is true, more often than not, even though the expertise and point of view are valuable additions, it is unlikely that his input would make or break an organization. There are other attorneys, financial experts, childcare professionals, social workers, or even nonprofit consultants to replace Joe.

If, on the other hand, the whole board decides to follow his lead and give only time and talent, it can break an institution. Nonprofits need philanthropic investment—the treasure—especially from every board member to do the good work they do.

So, the next time someone explains that their time and talent are enough of a gift, ask them if they really want to be on this board at this time. Explain that “one of the priorities of this board is 100% annual fund participation and I hope you can join me in supporting this organization that means so much to both of us. Indeed, one of the reasons I joined this board was to do and support its good work. And that takes money. Money that cannot be supported by membership or dues, money that comes for individual donors like the two of us.”

And, if you want to want to ensure every volunteer understands this from the start, make sure you list, “donor of meaningful gift” in your job description. Or a specific amount if that is what your board requires.

If you feel that you have no choice but to keep this person on, consider that there may be other reasons people are hesitant to join your board. And give us a call so we can help.

Originally published in 2016

Did You See My Thank You Video?

It was also an example of how easy it is to do a quick thank you video for donors. And I am hoping YOU will make one of your own today.

Film a thank you video

This article is not going to teach you how to set up formal acknowledgments. Hopefully, you have that set. Now is the time to start stewardship.

According to a report from Kindful and the NextAfter Institute, the first 45 days after a donation is when you are most likely to have the highest open, read and click rates. And, donors are most likely to give a 2nd gift or upgrade to become a recurring donor.  If you want to be remembered, here is an easy way to be grateful, stand out from other nonprofits, and maybe even get a 2nd gift.

How do you film a video to thank donors?

Just do it. You can decide if you want to do one for all new donors welcoming them with a new fact. One for major donors reminding them of some of the things you have been able to accomplish thanks to their donations. Or, one for your whole organization.

Decide, and then:

  1. find the best cell phone in the office/house
  2. find a decent background that does not distract (the viewer should not be able to read book titles)
  3. figure out how to prop up the phone (you can DIY it or buy something on Amazon)
  4. make the space as light as possible by adding warm lights (table lamps can help)
  5. start “filming”
  6. Macs have software to edit clips but try not to spend too much time doing it – it is an easy way to delay getting it out.  
  7. send it out

Here is what I learned when I did my video:

  1. I bought a ring light for $35 on Amazon. I like that it makes propping up the phone easy and has a remote to turn on and off the camera, but the ring light doesn’t work well if you wear glasses. I think my glasses-free kids will use it in the future for fun things. 
  2. It will not be perfect – so don’t try for that. I can pick out 6 things that I would have liked to be different in my video. I am guessing you didn’t notice most of them. And if you did, I am betting that it didn’t change the impact.
  3. I gave myself one hour to film. I did do it a bunch of times because it takes me awhile to get comfortable and not flub what I want to say
  4. I had a script that I turned into bullet points and put it up right next to the phone so that I could glance at that. (One of the things that bothers me is that I am looking in a strange direction but I think that is because of how I placed the camera and will change it next time). Keep it simple. This is a thank you with maybe one fact.
  5. I spent less than 10 minutes editing it.
  6. I felt really good when I hit send on the blog with it! You will too!

If you create a thank you video, please send me a copy at or tag me on social media (LinkedIn or Facebook). I love seeing them and learning from all of you. I promise not to notice any flaws.

Originally published in January, 2021

How to Ask Someone to Donate $1,000,000

Rejection Proof

A few years ago I have become aware of a theory called rejection therapy. The idea is that to overcome the fear of rejection you ask for seemingly preposterous things and eventually, you will be immune to the rejection and focused on how to turn the “no” into a “yes.” But can you use this theory if the idea is not preposterous but just scary? What if you want to ask someone to go on date or, since this is a fundraising and development blog, want to ask someone to donate $1,000,000 to your capital campaign? Can you make these asks feel less like you are asking for them to climb a ladder and get you the moon?

A Bit of Backstory

It all started with a TEDx talk given by Jia Jiang. I became a bit obsessed with his idea of rejection therapy that was only fueled when I saw him speak at a conference. He turned around his fear of rejection by spending 100 days asking for things that seemed just beyond his reach. Not surprisingly, he was rejected when he asked for a burger-refill to go with his drink refill and when he asked a stranger to borrow $100. But he was shocked when the flight attendant let him make the welcome announcement (it was illegal for him to give the safety announcement as all passengers need to be in their seats), Krispy Kreme made a complicated, customized donut for him, and a police officer let him drive his car – lights and all.

When I heard his story I realized this is exactly what we talk to our clients about.

Rejection Therapy in Fundraising

If you go out and ask each and every one of your nonprofit’s prospects to donate $1,000,000 and you would probably not get a single positive response. If there is no way for them to say yes (finances won’t allow it), you will not be learning about rejection therapy, you will simply get used to being rejected. By the time you reach the person(s) who could give $1,000,000, you would be asking with the assumption that you will get rejected. The “therapy” implies that you will grow from the experience not just ask for the same thing from different people in the same way.

What you can learn from Mr. Jiang, and other experienced solicitors, is that the right ask, to the right person, in the right way, with the ability to see the possibilities will help you find success.

Consider a campaign in which you have 350 rated individuals/couples. There are a few $1,000,000 and $500,000 prospects included, but the majority range from $5,000 to $250,000. You work with a committee to consider the ratings and determine appropriate asks for each. Then, you know that you have the right ask to the right person. You are not asking a $5,000 donor for $500,000 or asking a Krispy Kreme employee to let you give a flight announcement.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice getting rejected within the safe confines of your development committee. Everyone gets a little nervous when asking for a meaningful donation and that is what keeps it exciting for some and terrifying for others. Practicing within your committee will help you overcome some of the fear and help you frame what is the right way to ask for the donation. It will help you consider how you would ask someone differently if he or she is close to retirement or has children who are about to start college. And how you would answer the inevitable questions that will arise. Getting rejected by your fellow committee members –and learning what worked or didn’t work–will help you ask differently the next time.

The list of possible reasons someone may say “no” when you ask them to donate may be long, but the ability to see the possibilities will help you realize that many times a “no” is a, “not now,” “I have to think about it,” or “wow, I couldn’t do that, could I?” Maybe the ask is too high or your information about their ability to give was wrong, but that is not a rejection of you. That is a rejection of the information and you can move past that to find the amount that will help the donor feel good about their gift. Consider how you can make this a “yes,” now or in a future meeting. Is it a lower amount? Is it a family gift? Is it a gift pledged over 5 years? A portion as a legacy gift? If you can see the possibilities, you can help the donor see the path forward.

By the time you ask that next prospect to donate $1,000,000, you will start the same way you would for $5,000. Without the fear of rejection.

Want to learn more about this theory? Watch the webinar by clicking here

Want to read more about how you can improve your capital campaign success?

Capital Campaign Success – Should You Measure Dollars or Donors?

Keeping Optimistic During a Capital Campaign

The Timing of a Capital Campaign

Attention Board Members: 2 of 3 W’s Is Not Enough

Attention Board MembersLast week, in a meeting with a prospective board member, the person was surprised at the minimum I had mentioned as the suggested donation for her to join the board. In the past, nonprofits had said that as long as she was giving 2 of the the three W’s – Wisdom and Work, she often wasn’t asked to give the third – Wealth.

For many years that was the theory but here are 5 reasons to change that thinking.

  1. A small board. If your board has twelve members and four don’t give that is at the least a loss of income and at worst a demoralizer. I can hear the calls now, “I thought you said we were trying to get to 100% participation. Why don’t they have to give a board gift?” “Why do you expect me to give at that level when so many other board members don’t give at all?”

    Keep it simple and explain why board donations are essential. And then explain the essentials of why they should be giving a meaningful gift.

  2. If you want to engage the board in asking others for money. It is always easier to ask people to join you in your gift to the organization. It shows you have the commitment and hope they will too. In fact, you should not ask someone to do something that you, yourself, are not willing to do.
  3. It is proof that the nonprofit is a priority. Not everyone can give at the same level. And you do want certain people for skills beyond their wealth, but a meaningful gift – one that is a bit of a stretch – shows they understand how important the organization is and want to show their support.
  4. Foundations ask for board participation levels. The reason they ask for that information is for reasons 1-3. They understand that money is often the sign of board commitment and an understanding of the importance of the necessary funding for the nonprofit. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to have less than 100% participation for a board. A token gift may be appropriate from time to time, (but not because the person thinks they already give enough in wisdom and work).
  5. To create a culture of giving. Nonprofits need funding to survive. They need annual gifts and capital/endowment gifts from time to time. If everyone is used to donating, it will not feel like a task – it will feel like the right thing to do for the community that benefits from the organization. It will be a no-brainer that feels good.

The support of the board – in the form of the three W’s is important. But try not to trade any two for the third – it will never be in the best interest of your organization.

Updated from a previous article

How Many Letters Should I Send?

The “how many letters should I send” debate is back in session.

If you are like most organizations, you continually have the same conversation every year. It’s summer, when you take the time to plan your ”End of Year” Appeal Calendar, and someone will ask, “How many letters should I send at year-end?” Then the question is, “how many emails?” Followed closely by, “is that too many emails?”

Let’s answer the question, “how many letters should I send?”

We know, when budgets are tight, two letters can seem extremely expensive. Sometimes the conversation changes from, “how many letters should I send?” to “how few letters can I send?” A lot of organizations are shifting to one letter, but more important is to see the letter as one element in the year-end appeal calendar. Before you eliminate one or all letters, consider what else you can change in the overall calendar.

If the decision is purely cost-based, ways to reduce costs on a letter include sending:

  • One letter to everyone in your database and one postcard to non-responders who gave by post last year
  • One letter to everyone 
  • One letter only to donors and LYBUNTs who gave by post last year
  • Would one response card be less expensive than a tear off? 
  • Can it be two colors instead of multi-color? 

Then include emails and social media for the balance of the campaign.

If the decision is based on time or staff constraints, there are other strategies I would implement. Email me and let me know your concerns. From there I can write you back with suggestions and/or write another article focusing on those issues.

How did your donors give last year?

I am a believer that letters encourage gifts – even online gifts. I believe that because I save the letters of the nonprofits I will donate to this year, bring them to my computer, and give online. However, that is a reminder mechanism for me, and not the reason I give. If an organization I want to support only sends me an email, I still give.

However, if your donor took the time to write a check or squeeze their credit card information onto those tiny lines on the response form, the letter may impact their gift. And no matter the size of that gift, their gift matters.

What if there are only 100 people who gave by mail last year?

There are still more ways to save. If a small number of people gave by mail over the past few years, you might be able to print your appeals in your office. It should still look professionally designed (or at least Canva-designed), including a printed response mechanism with a unique, personalized set of asks, and a return envelope. They do not need to know that you are printing them in-house. But, they should see the personal handwritten notes that you can write if you are printing appeals in-house.

What does all this mean? Stop procrastinating and create a:

  • Calendar (include cost estimates/budget constraints)
  • Theme for your year-end appeal (this makes every step easier to write)
  • Write each element including the letters, emails, response mechanism, etc. (you can edit them later but do it asap, so you avoid the stress of last-minute writing)
  • Thank you notes for online gift auto-response, online gift personalized note, mailed thank you note, letter from board president, and any other thank you notes you will send

Really, stop procrastinating and get to it. If you don’t know where to start, or even if you do, use AI to write stronger, clearer letters. I wrote this article about AI early in February, which seems like a lifetime ago (look for an update soon). The NYT had a great series on how to use it with guidance on prompts. Tom Ahern recently wrote an article about how he used AI in fundraising. Now you have no excuse not to get those letters done.

And speaking of letters, don’t forget to write the emails. Write more than you think you will use – at least 10 over 3 months. You can always reduce the number you use – but you won’t want to write more in crunch time.

You will feel so much better by tomorrow when you have a calendar and drafts done. Then the questions will not be “how many letters should I send?” but what other strategic elements can I add to improve the end-of-year appeal. 

Capital Campaign Success – Should You Measure Dollars or Donors?

Measuring success by using the scales shown here

We are often asked, which is more important – community participation or the total amount raised before we “go public” in our capital campaign? This is not surprising – no organization would want to take on a large-scale project without the support of the community. But, no new building or renovations could come to fruition unless the financial support of the community is in hand.

I think it is a question akin to the chicken or the egg.

Capital Campaign Participation

At Mersky, Jaffe & Associates we have counseled many clients about the 80/20 or now often the 90/10 rule. Yes, 90% of the donations to a capital campaign may come from 10% of donors. However, we also add that the campaign would be a failure if you only raised money from a 10% of your community. The idea of a capital campaign is not to ensure that the wealthy members and major donors choose the future for the organization. It is simply that their meaningful gifts–thanks to their income, assets, family money, or other factors–allow them to make the financially impactful gifts that help put shovels in the ground.

With the encouragement of everyone to participate in the public phase at any level, you can reach 85% of program participant’s parents or 90% of all members. High participation level from the community shows that the capital campaign plan is one that the entire community supports.

It all starts with 100% participation from the capital campaign committee and the board. Sophisticated major donors often ask if there is 100% participation by the board of trustees or the participation rate for members or alumni. Even if these prospective funders are not intimate with the beneficiaries of the building – they know they can equate high leadership participation with excitement about the plans. Without the board participation – you may lose donors whose gifts will make the dream a reality. 

Please note: If you are asking someone for a seven-figure gift, you are probably not their first capital or endowment campaign ask. And that means they are sophisticated enough to know to question participation rates. 

Capital Campaign Dollars

The financial support of major donors signals that they think the capital campaign is the correct path for the community. But a high overall participation rate shows that this is supported by the community. But, without major donors, it would not allow you to move forward. You need funds to hire the architect and builder, secure additional financing and bridge loans, or have confidence that the project could be completed.

In addition, most organizations don’t even announce their campaign or “go public” until a certain percentage of the fundraising goal has been reached – usually 60-70%. For a $13 million dollar campaign, that is somewhere in the $8-9 million dollar range. But even if you could raise that $9 million from 3 donors – what does that say about your organizational priorities? Does anyone else think this is a good idea for the organization?

However, just like the chicken and the egg – timing matters. Early on, dollars reign. It is essential to get to the public phase to give confidence that this campaign will move forward and succeed. But once public – participation from everyone should be just as important.

Originally published in 2014

Nonprofits Are Asking: Will We Reach Our End-of-Year Goals? 

Crystal ball to answer " Reach Our End-of-Year Goals"

Way, way back in 2019, we could predict fundraising trends for individual nonprofits. 

Using the standard KPIs like previous giving history, the number of donors, and retention rates for various donors, helped form a reliable path to your goal. There was always testing to determine if your timing was right or if you should send a letter and five emails or two  letters and eight emails. But the basics were set if you knew where to look. 

Cut to 2023. There are a lot of people asking, “Will we reach our end-of-year goals?”

Development staff openings remain unfilled. Inflation is higher and faith in the markets is lower. And past performance is difficult to analyze when you include the pandemic-inspired giving in 2020 and 2021. Can you rely on 2022 giving data as the core predictor for 2023? Especially when costs continue to climb and your staff positions remain vacant.

I find my crystal ball a little cloudy today. But let me offer you some advice to give you the best possible outcome.

  1. Continue to ask. This may seem obvious, but the Donor Giving Days in the spring, extra NPR drives in June, and plans to start asking an extra time in August are ways organizations are looking to make up the shortfall this year.
  2. If you are short staffed, get creative with your hires. In the past few weeks, I have heard of three new hires with zero fundraising experience. They just found a really smart person and decided the organization could train them. Or hire someone like us to train them. Which, coincidentally, is how I heard about them.
  3. Understand the realities of the situation. If you are down three people in a department of six, there is no way for you to do the work of six. And that is true if you are down two or even one. If you want to retain the remaining employees you have, don’t assume they will absorb all the work. That’s a formula for disaster.
  4. Make sure your fall appeal is calendared – and even written – in the summer. How many letters, postcards, emails will you send? You don’t want to be annoying and at the same time, prospects who unsubscribe from your list were probably not going to continue to give and grow their gifts. I believe that because I don’t unsubscribe from the organizations I love. I may ask for a different cadence or opt out of emails, but if I care about the work, I will stay involved.*
  5. Worry less about new donors and worry more about donor retention. If your overall donor retention is less than 50%, you will lose one in two donors who you acquire each and every year. Work on keeping the donors you have. It is less expensive and easier to do.
  6. Pick a segment to focus on for your end-of-year goals. If you can’t choose everyone, choose wisely. Let’s say you choose your mid-level donors. (What a good idea!) This is the group of donors who have been giving to you for years at an amount that is above entry level but below that major donor threshold. Remember that in the past couple of years, donor retention is down but average gift is up. Can you:
  • Create an incentive for them to become major donors?  
  • Ask your volunteers to check in with them this summer and see how they are feeling about the nonprofit?  
  • Send a personalized postcard just to that group? Segmentation strategies are essential to help a donor feel connected.

I could keep going but we all know how hard it is to get through a long article these days. Even if the topic is as interesting as reaching your end-of-year goals. As always, if you would like organization specific help, email me or schedule a time on my Calendly.

*Really, even I, who love seeing what my colleagues are sending out, unsubscribe when it gets to be too much. But never to an organization I want to support. And definitely not my top philanthropies.

Care About a Nonprofit? Make Sure You Update Your CRM

Make Sure You Update Your CRM

If I asked you to list five facts about each of your top 20 donors, could you do it? Could anyone in your organization list five facts about those donors? If not, it’s time to start putting your notes and update your CRM*.

Caring about a nonprofit and the mission you serve should transcend your time with the organization. And documenting a donor’s affinities, interests, and contact preferences are ways to ensure the future.

Your job — whether you are an Executive Director, Development professional, or passionate volunteer, is to help the organization thrive. One can assume you are motivated to spend your time to help fulfill a mission and vision that you believe in. Maybe you even fill your days dreaming of how to raise more money and achieve more. Then ensure continuity and update your CRM after every meeting.

Is updating your CRM as sexy as sharing your three recent successful solicitations with your team? No. Is it as important, if not essential, to put detailed notes into a place everyone can see? Yes.

While you may think you will be there forever, things happen. People suddenly leave their position, decide to retire, or realize it is time to move on. And nowhere in your two weeks — or even two months — notice is updating your CRM notes going to take priority. Having lunch with colleagues is much more fun.

But, if you want to support the nonprofit into the future, use your CRM for more than tracking gifts. Notes will help the nonprofit succeed in the future. Which, I am hoping, is also part of the reason you work for the greater good each day.

*CRM stands for Constituent Relationship Management and is the term used for the software nonprofits and for-profits use to track relationships. KindfulShulCloudRaiser’s Edge NXT, and DonorPerfect are all currently being used by our clients to great success. If you want to discuss your needs, email me.