Author Archives: David Mersky

Reignite Your Lapsed Supporters

By David A. Mersky

You just finished your year-end rush and have begun planning for 2023. But before you turn the calendar page to February, one important question remains: Who were the people, no matter how many times you asked, who gave in 2021 but did not give again in 2022?

These people — your lapsed supporters — represent an enormous fundraising opportunity for your nonprofit … provided you can understand what happened and reawaken their support for your organization.

Some suggestions…

#1. Know who your lapsed donors are.

Identify them by the date and amount of their most recent gift and by the date and amount of their largest gift to your organization. Then do your research to understand their philanthropic capacity. 

Electronic vetting of both donors and prospects will provide a deep understanding of where these individuals sit in terms of their publicly acknowledged gifts, political participation, compensation, board memberships, place(s) of residence, and overall wealth. You may not be able to speak with all lapsed donors; this type of analysis allows you to focus on those who represent the greatest potential.

Further, if you received a five-hundred-dollar donation in the past but see that this same individual gifted five thousand to another nonprofit, you know that there is an opportunity to win some of that love for your organization.

#2. Be ready with an apology.

As you begin the process of reconnecting, be prepared to apologize, especially if you discover that the reason this person did not renew their support was because they were upset about something you did or did not do (such as failing to thank them properly).

“I’m so sorry we did not connect last year. I would really like to understand why such a faithful supporter of our organization as you, who gave $X for Y years, did not do so last year. I want to make sure it was nothing we did so we can be certain it does not happen again.”

#3. Bring them up to date. 

Remind them that at one point they were among your valued supporters, whether through their time, talent, or treasure.

Then share how their contribution in the past has enabled you to … serve 500 kids in your mental health clinic; help 250 people find new jobs or get trained on new skills; enable 600 inner-city kids to go to summer camp.

In other words, reconnect them to the “Why” behind their past giving.Help them rediscover the affinity they felt for your organization. You might ask a series of open-ended questions:

“What do you remember about your time with us?”

“What past achievement of our organization are you most proud of?”

“What did you find most inspiring?”

These questions are intended to help restart a two-way conversation.

#4. Regain their trust. 

This first reconnection is not the time to ask for money. Instead, engage them with future-oriented questions: 

“What do you think about the fact that we sent so many kids to summer camp?”

“What do you think we could have done differently (if there were problems)?”

“How might we improve program X or deliver it more effectively?”

Are they optimistic about the future? Do they share fond memories about the past? Are they energized about your recent achievements and generally satisfied with the direction of your organization?

Ask for their opinion (which they are generally happy to share) and listen, listen, listen.

#5. Determine the next step. 

If you feel that the embers have been reignited, it may be time to engage them in a straightforward way: Come to an event. Join us in volunteering at our foodbank. Consider mentoring one of our young people.

When you reengage them in activity, their money will follow.

That said, if none of the steps you have taken have been successful, at some point you have to bless and release them. As a former client of mine, a Jesuit priest, used to say to me: “After I have done everything I possibly can to engage with a donor, I wish them well. I tell them our work will continue and we hope they will resume their support. Above all, I wish them all the best in whatever they do.”

You want to leave them not with a sense that you feel resentment, but that you recognize them as valued members of the community who are choosing to do other things with their resources. All of this serves to give you positive buzz in the community.

Start 2023 Strong

After current donors, your most ideal prospects are your lapsed supporters. They are familiar with your organization and have already demonstrated a willingness to support your goals and purpose. Often, all it takes to bring them back is your sincere outreach and attention.

The beginning of your 2023 plan should be to focus on as many of these promising individuals as possible.  

What to Do As the Year Winds Down

By David A. Mersky

The year is nearly over. At this point, you have done absolutely everything you can for your direct response and mid-range donors. 

So, what do most organizations do? They send everybody home between Christmas and New Year’s.

Yes, you may still be calling some of your most important supporters. But everything else that will enable you to finish 2022 successfully is fully baked. 

Or is it? Remember that 50% (not a typo) of all online giving happens in the last week of the year; 21% occurs on the very last day.

Now is the time to be especially vigilant — making sure that online forms are functioning, checks are deposited, records are updated, and acknowledgments are sent with a personal note that tells the donor how valued they are. 

The mail and email may be scheduled (at least three emails should be sent on the last two days of the year), but this is the time to be sure the mail is opened, online gifts are processed, deposits are made, the CRM is updated, and acknowledgements are processed for those who make their gifts as the final page of the calendar turns.

A Time for Planning

The close of the year is also the time to start planning for the next. What will you track?:

  • Who gave in 2022 who had not given in 2021? Did an action you took trigger the gifts (e.g., a match, an impact report)?  
  • How can we increase the number of people who have supported us in the past, skipped a year, and then came back?
  • Who increased their gift in 2022 from what they had given previously? How can we get them to do it again and encourage more to join them?
  • Who did not give in 2022 but had given in 2021? How do we revive their affection and dedication to the work that we do?
  • Who gave for the very first time in 2022? How do we ensure that we retain their support and get them to give again?

Segmentation

In fundraising, as in marketing, the ultimate objective is to create segments of more and more homogeneous groups. Doing so allows you to develop what will feel like deeply customized approaches that connect with your donors and that encourage them to invest in your community generously and continually.

Resume your analysis with a review of the tactics used this year and the results realized:

  • Who responded to your snail mail solicitations?
  • Who was invited to join your sustainers society and became a monthly donor?
  • Who was asked to consider a legacy and informed you that they had made provisions for your organization in their estate plan?
  • Who came to a special event — a small wine and cheese in a home, a major gala in a hotel ballroom, etc. — and how did they behave philanthropically differently than they had previously?

These are just a few examples of questions that you should prepare to ask after all the results for the year are received. Overall, your objective is to understand which tactics had the highest return on investment with which segments, in order to do more of what worked in 2023.

As you sit in your office these next two weeks considering all that you and your hardworking staff have accomplished in 2022, keep in mind that it ain’t over ‘till it’s over and next year is just around the corner.

Follow-Up: Fundraising’s Essential Action

By David A. Mersky

Recently, a colleague of mine was working with a nonprofit group to convene a gateway event. Gateways are used to introduce prospective, new major donors to the organization. The chosen venue was wonderful and RSVPs in the affirmative exceeded expectations.

Attendance was another matter— there was a 50% drop off from those who said they would attend to those who actually did. Further, there was no plan in place for reaching out to invitees in the days following.

Establishing a clear plan for follow-up* — to leverage the experience of those who attended and to continue engaging the group in the organization’s mission and goals — is vital for success.

The “Big Event” is Just the Beginning

When organizing a gala or gateway event, it’s understandable that the early focus is on the event itself. But from a long term, fundraising perspective, the occasion is just step one. It is the opening gambit in a process of engagement, relationship-building, and stewardship, all of which will ultimately yield the greatest philanthropic investment.

Consistent and effective follow-up is what makes all of this happen. That’s because when you make the effort to reach out to another person, you are saying, “You are important to me and our relationship matters.”

With that in mind, I offer three suggestions…

#1. Move Quickly

A follow-up call to attendees and non-attendees should occur within 48 hours. You want to make contact while the event is still fresh in their minds and before they have moved on to other things on their plate.

And yes, I am unapologetically old school in my belief that a phone call — not an email and certainly not a text — is the best medium for this task. The objective is an open-ended conversation in which you can hear the tone and emotion in the voice of the other person.

#2. Think Strategically

Who within your organization is best equipped to manage the relationship going forward? This is the person who should make the call. This may be a peer, board member, committee member, or member of the senior staff (hint: it’s not a summer intern!).

Remember that your list of invitees consists of key accounts — people who you hope will provide a meaningful gift at some point. It may or may not happen right away, so think strategically about who can best shepherd that personal connection over time.

#3. Act Deliberately

Every person on your invitee list was put there for a reason; each represents a future opportunity. So follow up with everyone, regardless of whether or not they attended. 

For those who did not attend, let them know that you were sorry to have missed them and that you hope they can join you at another event in the future.

For everyone else, ask:

What was your experience? 

Did you learn anything that was worthwhile? Was there anything that felt off target? What could we do to improve your experience in the future? Again, the key is to initiate a meaningful conversation.

Is there any way that you could see yourself becoming more involved with us?

You are looking to see if they have the time and if you have stimulated them to volunteer.

A common response to this question is for the other person to ask, “What would becoming more involved look like?” So make sure you have two or three specific things in mind that might advance the objectives of your organization. Would you be willing to host an event in your home or at your office? Would you be willing to serve on one of our committees? Would you come and speak to a group of our students (if the organization were a school)?

We know that those who become more involved end up making a greater financial contribution. This can be the point at which that involvement begins.

Can you recommend anyone else that we should invite to future events like this?

We must always be working to expand the size of our respective lists. People tend to know and socialize with others like themselves, so by making this inquiry, you are likely to be referred to other promising individuals.

Make Follow-Up an Organizational Imperative

When you follow up with a potential donor, you are validating the other person while improving the long-term giving potential for your organization. 

Done well, it is a win-win for everyone involved and an important habit to develop for yourself and your colleagues.


*You may be wondering why “follow-up” sometimes takes a hyphen and sometimes not. Well, as my children and grandchildren will tell you, I am a stickler for proper grammar in writing and speech. “Follow-up” is an unusual phrase in that it should be hyphenated when used as a noun or adjective, but not when used as a verb.

Before You Approach a Major Donor

By David A. Mersky

Before You Approach a Major Donor

I had coffee yesterday with a long-time client. His nonprofit organization is beginning to plan for the construction of a substantial new facility, and they have begun engaging with architects, contractors, and such.

Naturally, thoughts of fundraising for this endeavor are already on the table. With that in mind, he shared with me his plans to fly to Los Angeles next week and talk to a major donor about providing a very substantial naming gift for the project.

I implored him not to take this step. After asking several questions, it was clear to me that this action at this time would be premature.

Why? Several reasons, which I explain in more depth below. But in short, effective fundraising is about much more than just “ask and they will give.”

Well Begun is Half Done

Nonprofit fundraisers are often in a rush to gain commitments for anticipated projects. That’s understandable. After all, without those funds, the projects will not get underway.

However, to achieve maximum effectiveness, a great deal of preparation is required. Critical questions must be answered prior to arriving at the door of a major donor. Some of these include…

What will be the outcome to the organization if a major gift is secured?

Sophisticated, thoughtful donors want to know what the vision is for the project at hand. What will the organization be able to do that it cannot do without their philanthropic support?

Are you trying to reinvigorate a youth development center replacing an old building in disrepair with a modern facility, providing children who deserve more with a safe, comfortable, and welcoming structure?

Are you planning to build an inner-city charter schoolto address the dearth of quality educational facilities in communities that don’t have the wherewithal to invest on their own?

Whatever the specifics, you need to help the prospective donor envision how the world will be a better place once you have completed the project for which this gift is the foundation.

How much money do you need?

In the eyes of many donors, this is an investment. It’s a business deal, not a blank check. Regardless of the degree to which they are in support of your organization, or the size of their bank account, they want to know that you have got your ducks in a row.

This means that you need to be much further down the planning road than just, “We want to build X.” How much will the project cost? How much money can you raise in the aggregate? What portion of the overall cost are you asking them to contribute?

You wouldn’t approach a bank for a loan without knowing how much you need and how the funds will be used. The same preparation is required when approaching a donor.

How will you leverage this gift to raise more money?

With rare exception, no single donor wants to fund a multimillion-dollar project on their own. Typically, they are attracted to the idea of collaborating with others of similar philanthropic interests and financial capacity. They want partnership and alliance.

Often, donors want to offer their money as a challenge: “I will contribute X if you can secure an equal amount from others.” They want you to succeed and this can help you to leverage their offer as a way to bring others on board.

Keep in mind as well that it can be risky to be overly dependent on one donor for a given project, should the donor have a change of heart or circumstance. That’s why we recommend a “pyramid approach,” with a few major donors atop a foundation of many other contributors at varying levels beneath.

Relationship First, Money Second

Above all, always remember that fundraising is about people.

Our first responsibility is to serve the donor well – to make sure the request is within the realm of possibility given their wealth, that it reflects their personal vision and the impact they wish to have in the world, and that it strengthens the bond between organization and individual.

Only through preparation and due diligence will you be equipped to take that cross-country flight, knock on that door, and come away with a commitment that improves the lives of all involved.

How Do You Raise Money If You Are Not Providing COVID 19-Related Services?

Raise Money If You Are Not Providing COVID 19-Related Services

Are you asking yourself how you can raise funds at a time of pandemic, economic dislocation, and social unrest when your organization’s mission is not related to any of those issues?

Many of our clients have been raising this concern with us in the past few months. Recently, Michael Jaffe facilitated a program for the staff of a national communal organization that recently utilized our executive search services. 

The goal was to get everyone in the room to answer the question:

“How do nonprofits raise money if you are not providing COVID 19-related services?” 

A question so many organizations face. And Mersky, Jaffe & Associates wants to help you answer. (Click here if you would like to talk to one of us about how we can provide a one-hour brainstorming session for your organization.)

What did this nonprofit learn about raising money if you are not providing COVID 19-related services?

  • Whether or not to relate your organization to current issues depends on the donor. 
  • Fundraisers must be sensitive to their donors as well as transparent, passionate, and sincere when making the case and asking for a commitment. 
  • It is critical, now more than ever, to stay in touch with donors by all and any means of communication that the donor employs. Another national organization, has made 30,000 phone calls to its donors since late March. Organizations should reach out to every donor in their data base in a prioritized, systematic way to create a caring community. The purpose of the call can be to check in, say thank you, and ask questions to engage donors.
  • Stewardship is essential. Everyone, including staff, is dealing with the effects of COVID 19 and the social unrest, but it is critical that staff relate to donors.
  • Virtual solicitations work. Utilize Zoom to engage donors. It is the best option now. Giving is as emotional as it is financial. People are giving, so do not be reluctant to solicit donors now.
  • Many people are looking at their estate plans. Now is a good time to focus on planned giving efforts.
  • Look at donors who give through Donor Advised Funds. They still have money to give away since it has already been set aside for this exact purpose.

Your organization has an important message.  Now is not the time to pull back on fundraising.  If you want to hold a motivating, inspiring program for your staff and/or volunteer leadership, email me or click here to set an appointment to talk about what Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can do for you and your mission.

Does Your Organization Have an Emergency Leadership Transition Management Plan?

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.Dby David A. Mersky

Emergency leadership transition management has been on my mind ever since the tragic, untimely death last month of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l, may his memory be for a blessing, the 12th  president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  As soon as shiva—the seven days of mourning—had passed the leadership of the College-Institute named Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., its Chancellor Emeritus as the Interim President.  Dr. Ellenson had served the College-Institute as its 11th president from 2001 – 2013.  There is no one who knows the institution, its faculty, administration, leaders, donors, funders and students better than he.  He could bear the sad burden of enabling the College-Institute to carry on under extremely trying circumstances.

But, how many organizations, when confronted with any unexpected, unsettling change in leadership, can have such an elegant a solution and the ability to turn to a trusted, valued former leader?  What would happen to your organization if a key employee could no longer serve?

I believe that every organization should have an emergency transition plan in place.

An effective plan provides clarity on who will do what in the event of the God forbid.  The essential elements of such a plan are key to an orderly transition.  There are three things that must be in place to manage any succession plan, especially an unexpected one. And, by creating such a plan and having it ready to be executed, you may avoid additional anxiety in a time of great stress. In the case of the need to replace an organization’s leader, it is vital that:

  1. the board understands the job of the chief professional of the organization. The most basic component is a current written job description that clearly spells out the responsibilities of the position and the person who occupies it.
  2. the board and CEO/ED communicate regularly and transparently about mutual expectations. As a principal develops and asserts leadership, the organization simultaneously undergoes changes in institutional strategy, staff and environmental conditions. Good governance is the result of a constructive, interdependent partnership based upon a shared vision of their respective roles and responsibilities.
  3. there is a constructive process for self-assessment and evaluation of the CEO, the board, and its individual members. These annual processes should be well-defined, based upon mutually agreed upon expectations and clear, measurable objectives. And, while an annual, written review is at minimum what should be expected, a structured program of feedback at regular intervals is better still.

In sum, here is a checklist of key elements of a leadership transition plan to have in place long before it would be necessary:

  1. An up-to-date job description for the position
  2. Clear, written annual performance expectations
  3. Measurable benchmarks for the performance of the organization and each of its divisions
  4. Regular check-ins to determine that the organization is proceeding in the right direction and that the staff person has the appropriate qualities for the tasks at hand
  5. An emergency leadership transition management plan
  6. A process for hiring a new key employee
  7. Maintaining the unity of the leadership—professional and volunteer—and assuring focus on the future.

As in the case of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the sadness of the death of a beloved CEO is incomparable.  We reach out to all our friends and colleagues at the College-Institute with our heartfelt hope that time and memory will provide them with the healing and blessing they so richly merit.

For the rest of us, should we ever be confronted with an unexpected transition of leadership, our stress and anxiety will be alleviated and the future well-being of the enterprise and those who depend upon it will be assured through thoughtful succession planning now.

Food Justice and Sustainability – From KAM Isaiah Israel to Your Nonprofit

KAM Isaiah Israel Farming ImageEven as we anticipate the beginning of summer, I am thinking back to this past Sunday, May 20, 2018.  In the Jewish liturgical calendar, the day marked Shavuot, when in ancient times, Jews were gathered up to Jerusalem for the Festival of First Fruits.  In the Christian calendar, the day is known as Whitsunday—Pentecost—the day that marks when the church was first gathered.

These holy days, however, share much earlier roots, a pagan, agrarian festival marking the first harvest of the year. Our ancestors—and we who observe these festive rites—fifty days after Passover and Easter, are ever reminded of how dependent we are upon the land and its bounty.  Food was never to be taken for granted in the Biblical era. And, regrettably, for far too many in our own time and in our own country, food insecurity is a reality.

KAM Isaiah Israel

Recently, we have engaged with a client who is doing something about it.  A 170-year-old congregation, KAM Isaiah Israel, is a city-wide Reform Jewish community in the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood. The congregation was founded by the founders of Jewish life in Chicago.  It is known for its dedication to intellectual inquiry and the pursuit of social justice through action, knowledge, and advocacy.  We have been engaged with this historic community to re-envision its future and raise the funds to achieve it.

Food Justice and Sustainability

A hallmark of the congregation’s social justice program is its award-winning, nationally-recognized Food Justice and Sustainability Program begun in 2009.  Through these efforts, KAM Isaiah Israel members address basic human needs and rights—access to nourishing, wholesome food, clean air and water, healthy soil—through urban farming. They have transformed the synagogue’s lawns and others around the neighborhood into food producing micro-farms, growing fruits and vegetables while distributing the harvests to those in need.

The members of the congregation not only grow and distribute food. They also teach urban agriculture and sustainability skills and advocate for healthy, local food systems and responsible energy, land and water use. This group utilizes an annual mid-January MLK Food Justice and Sustainability Weekend, annual mid-summer Farm and Food Forest School, and new Elementary School Environmental Education Initiative to create awareness, make an impact and share their knowledge.

In addition to all the good that it does, the program is a magnificent engagement tool for the congregation and has attracted people of all ages to the synagogue.  Since 2009 more than 500 people have been involved with the program. They have educated, advocated, planned, organized, planted, tended, harvested, and delivered more 12 tons of fresh produce. The work is done by an extraordinary group of individuals—members and non, interfaith, younger and older. Consequently, the program enjoys a high retention rate and a steady, annual influx of new participants.

What can you do at your nonprofit?

Aspects of the KAM Isaiah Isreal’s program are within the ability of any community to do. While a farm may be beyond your reach, it’s not difficult to establish gleaning programs or plant trees.

With an emphasis on climate change, imagine if every congregation stopped flying in cut flowers for the bimah. Instead, they could decorate with crops they had grown or gleaned, and then donated the food to a meal program. That alone would have a big impact on energy consumption. But, this community demonstrates every day the power we all have to effect change and action.

As a result, at this season when we have just marked Shavuot—the time of the giving of the Torah—the core of our values—and Pentecost—when the church was first gathered, I think back to the shared, ancient agrarian roots of these great days.  I think about how we can address the issue of food insecurity in our own communities.  And most noteworthy, I see how we can bring people together in common cause for the good of all.

We are proud of our association with the people of KAM Isaiah Israel.  If you would like to learn more about this program and how you can start something similar in your community, contact me and I will connect you with the leaders of this great social justice engagement program.

What Motivates Donors to Give by David A. Mersky

I got an email from a client earlier today.  He wrote:

I saw an article in the Washington Post yesterday. It discusses that, with the new tax law, many people will lose the deductibility of charitable contributions because they will become subject to the standard deduction. For individuals 70.5 and older who are subject to “required minimum distributions” from their retirement accounts, the article describes that charitable deductions can still be taken by directing the brokerage firm to contribute directly to a charitable entity.

I wonder whether we could send a letter to our donors who are 70+ telling them about this strategy, perhaps linking to an article, or providing specific language they can direct to their accountants or investment advisors.

Let me know what you think.

Do tax refunds motivate a donor to give?Well, I think that it is an interesting strategy.  And, you might want to consider sending such a letter, or if you are of an age to take required minimum distributions from ERISA-qualified funds—i.e., retirement accounts like 401 (k), profit-sharing, defined contribution pension plans, IRA Rollovers, and the like—then you might want to think about this for yourself.

But what about all the rest of the population who do not have such a benefit.  How do they “claw back” the value of a charitable gift deduction if they no longer can itemize their deductions?

The media—and most especially the press which reports about the nonprofit world—has been filled with hand-wringing articles about how contributions will go way down because of the unintended consequence of the increase in the standard deduction.

This contrarian is not going to pile on and issue another doom and gloom set of warnings in light of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.  Instead let me share the data with you that describes the key factors driving donations.  We know that some people give to support the fundraising efforts of a family member, friend, or neighbor.  Others like to create a philanthropic image for themselves or their company.  Still others feel guilty saying no to someone expressing a need.  These reasons for giving often are understated and certainly under-reported in the research.

The 2016 US Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy conducted in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy looked at factors driving charitable giving among wealthy households.  This biennial study found that donors primary stated motivations for giving were much as they had always been.  They were as follows:

  • Believing in the mission of organizations (54%)
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference (44%)
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment, or fulfillment (39%)
  • Supporting the same causes annually (36%)
  • Giving back to the community (27%)
  • Adhering to religious beliefs (23%)

By the way, 18% of wealthy donors in the same study say they gave because of tax benefits which is a drop form 34% in the 2014 study.

Our firm’s prescription for our clients, particularly those who fear the impact of the new tax law, is to communicate effectively and genuinely with donors, express appreciation and let donors know what heroes they are.

In the weeks and months ahead, we are going to focus our efforts on helping clients consider what motivates donors to give and how to:

  • Acquire new, first time donors who believe in the cause
  • Tell their new donors that they really make a difference
  • Convey joy in the gift to the giver

If you want to be part of our new initiative, send me an email to set up a call.  In a 30 minute no obligation call, we can begin you down a path of growth in your donor community, upgraded gifts from your existing donors, enhanced retention of donors, and increased lifetime value of each one of your contributors.  Write directly to me by clicking here and we will help you focus your efforts on what motivates donors to give.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Getting Ready for the New YearOn the first day of the New Year, I found a few things that gave me pause for thought as I clear the decks and begin getting ready for the New Year.

    1. At the end of the year, most organizations judge their success by one question: Did we meet our budget goal?But growing future giving means investing in activities that may not generate revenue now, but will make a difference in the years to come. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself: What things do I want to make sure happen in 2018 as a result of my organization’s fundraising plan, assuming, of course, that you have a written, highly focused plan with clearly measurable objectives? Example Focus Areas:
      • Engage donors early and often to learn about what interests them.
      • Find one more Board member interested in becoming involved in fundraising.
      • Start a monthly giving program.
      • Improve our database practices so that our donor reports are consistently correct
    2. Congress has passed a new tax bill which the president has signed into law.The last year ended with a steady stream of advice from nonprofits, accountants, financial advisors, and the like to increase deductions and defer income. Now, I am not an accountant nor the son of an accountant, to paraphrase the prophet Amos (Amos 7:14). I am not here to give anyone tax advice. Anyway, it is too late as 2017 has passed.However, I think all my friends in nonprofit development shops ought to beware of the law of unintended consequences. As we watched results mount for 2017’s year-end giving because of the “bundling” of gifts or multi-year pledge payments, should we begin to think about what the impact of such riches now will mean for 2018 and beyond. Just sayin’.
    3. I am always thinking about leadership talent—acquisition, management, and transition. Are you or your organization confronting a potential transition in the coming year?Nonprofits require high-impact leaders who are audacious, visionary, bold, and results-oriented. This is the type of leadership we all need, and it’s the type of professional we will help you find or the volunteer whom we will help you develop.
      This past year, we added two outstanding leaders to our firm, Howard Charish and Kerry Olitzky, who are already making a difference.
      We understand that executive search is not just a recruitment activity, but an opportunity to define your organization and the change it will drive for years to come. Our executive search process is collaborative and focused. With your organization’s specific goals in mind, we work in partnership with you to find the best, most qualified executives to lead your mission. We serve both nonprofit executives and the organizations who need them to pave the way to the future. In this coming year, I want to focus on your leadership talent needs.

    Watch this space for a new series on managing transitions and finding the right person to make the change you envision.

  1. For now, all of us at Mersky, Jaffe & Associates wish you the very best for 2018, a year
    • without any unintended consequences
    • in which your focused plans are executed to a tee, and
    • your volunteer and professional leadership exceed your aspirations.

The Role of the Executive Director in Nonprofit Governance

Book that includes The Role of the Executive Director in Nonprofit GovernanceManaging relationships among lay leadership and staff.

Navigating the relationships between senior staff and lay leadership is critical to mission driven work and seamless operations.  We believe this so strongly that we even wrote a book about it.  You can get your own copy—either electronic or print—of How to Engage New Board Members: Strengthening Your Nonprofit Organization by clicking here.  It will provide you with tools to help clarify roles and move the needle to benefit the goals of your organization and those you serve.

Not sure you need this book?  Then let me ask you does this sound like YOUR organization’s board?

  • “They say they will do anything EXCEPT raise money (despite signing a give and get pledge).”
  • “They don’t know how to fundraise…but they want to tell US what we need to do to fundraise!”
  • “They do not follow through. They say they will do something and then they do not do it.”
  • “They say they want to move the organization forward but then do next to nothing outside of the one board meeting a month they attend.”
  • “Our board lacks the knowledge or interest to fundraise. And it wasn’t even anything that they were told about or encouraged to do when they joined the board.”

Imagine what it would look like, instead, to have a passionate board, eager to be your organization’s best fundraisers and ambassadors. Happy to fundraise — together. It’s time to understand the role of the executive director in nonprofit governance.

Is this what you want?

Whether you are an organization in the early stages of building your board, or you are mired in dysfunction, you are sure to develop a foolproof plan for building your board and enhancing your organization’s successful fundraising program.

And, once you have built a knowledgeable, dedicated board who understands what their role is and promises to do what they say they are going to do, then we can provide you with the skill development for each of them individually and the board collectively to become passionate, pervasively optimistic advocates, ambassadors and, above all, great fundraisers for your organization.

If that is what you want, buy the book, contact me for a personal thirty-minute, no obligation consultation about its implementation, and schedule a solicitor development workshop for you, your staff, and every member of your board.  We will provide you with a program that will revolutionize how you engage your donors and a set of tools to reinforce your board members skills and motivation that you can deploy every single month. Start to understand the role of the executive director in nonprofit governance today.

You can reach me by clicking here.  I promise to get back to you in 24 hours.

And, if you will be at the NATA conference in December, come see my session that will offer you ways to improve the relationships between your nonprofit’s leadership.