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Straight talk about major, mid-level and legacy gift fundraising to help you be a better fundraiser

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Why you may need to reframe the donor’s hero story

Reframing the hero story The Hero is a high-ego character. It is at one extreme of the ego-social axis. For those at the opposite end,… Read More


Why fundraisers must understand the 6 common elements of every donor’s hero story

As fundraisers, what exactly do we have to offer donors? Their gift goes away. Even if we call it an “investment,” it doesn’t give them… Read More


How to make your fundraising ask more effective — according to research, not hearsay

Story review A story progresses through Backstory and setting These establish motivation from the main character’s original identity. The inciting incident This is the main… Read More


Top 10 Reasons to Enroll in the Donor Story: Epic Fundraising Ecourse with Dr. Russell James

Need help convincing the ‘powers that be’ to pony up the cash for the best and most valuable online fundraising eCourse on the planet? Even… Read More


How to help your donors score a victory and make an impact

What’s it about? An effective fundraising story isn’t just a good story. It must do something. It must lead to a gift. This means the… Read More


3 Big Reasons Why An ‘Ask’ Is Mostly About Your Donor’s Hero Story (Not Your Organization’s)

The narrative arc Story moves through a narrative arc. This includes: Backstory and setting These establish motivation from the main character’s original identity. The inciting… Read More


The 3 Key Elements of a Good Fundraising Story

What’s it about? Many stories can be good stories. But a good fundraising story must do something specific. It must lead to a gift. This… Read More


Restricted vs Unrestricted Gifts: Why Donors Love Restricted Gifts and (Some) Nonprofits Hate Them

A debate has been growing in recent years regarding the practice of offering major donors the option of giving restricted gifts. A restricted gift is… Read More


At last, the Not-So-Secret Formula for Raising Major Gifts

If you’re in the business of raising money for a cause, some on your staff (or your board) may have probably wondered, “What really leads… Read More


How Restricted Gifts Can Actually Be a GOOD Thing — And Why You Should Embrace Them

Fundraising is story world Lab experiments, field experiments, and academic theory agree: Fundraising lives in “story world,” not “commerce world.” Social-emotional story is the engine… Read More


Why people who say your non-profit should operate like a for-profit are wrong

Giving is different from buying Charitable giving comes from “story world.” Effective fundraising story triggers visualization producing social emotion. This is the engine that drives… Read More


Why Simple Words Work When Telling a Fundraising Story

Use your words Story starts with words. Word choice matters. It matters for fundraising story. For example, Simple, conversational, family words work. They match the… Read More


5 Reasons Why You Should Focus Your Fundraising On Foundations, Funds, Trusts, and Endowments

Many fundraisers don’t understand the world of big philanthropy. Why not? Because they don’t understand wealth. They don’t understand charitable instruments. So, let’s start with… Read More


How to make sure the experience you deliver to donors makes their giving feel worthwhile

Charity managers’ perspective How should a gift be structured? For charity managers, the answer is easy. The donor should just write a check. Write it… Read More


How to Reduce the ‘Cost’ of Philanthropy So Major Donors Give More

Teen Talk Barbie famously stated, “Math is hard.”[1] This may be particularly true in fundraising. Giving is motivated by social emotion. Triggering math, logic, error-detection thoughts can hurt. It… Read More


Why You Should Focus Your Fundraising Efforts on Generating Gifts of Wealth (from Assets) Not on Disposable Income (from Credit Cards, Checks, or Cash)

Gifts of wealth A donation comes from the intersection of motivation and cost. Most of this series focuses on the motivation side. But often the… Read More


6 Things Your Donors Don’t Care About (That You Assumed They Did)

This news can be shocking to hear and might even make some fundraisers and nonprofit administrators fall out of their seats. But it’s true. Donors… Read More


How to Lower the ‘Cost’ of Philanthropy So Your Supporters Donate Major Gifts of Assets

In fundraising, a gift results when motivation overcomes cost. Increasing motivation helps. So does lowering cost. These make the gift easier. But sometimes, these two processes conflict. Number problems… Read More


How To Use Numbers To Inspire More Giving (and How You Should NOT Use Them)

Numbers For nonprofit managers, numbers are important. Numbers define success or failure. Numbers keep the lights on or off. Numbers can show impact. But numbers,… Read More


How to develop a ‘character’ in your fundraising stories in 3 steps — according to Dr. Russell James

At the heart of philanthropy is story. Story starts with character. Without a relatable character, the fundraising story is dead. To be relatable, the donor… Read More


4 big ideas Dr. Russell James got from scanning donor brains with neuroimaging equipment

Philanthropy originates in story. In the earliest foundations of human social cooperation, story is at the center.[1] In empathy development of preschool children, story is… Read More


Finally, the story behind Dr. Russell James’ research on fundraising stories

My journey My career has always focused on charitable giving. This was true in my practice experience, my research, and my teaching. But I’ll admit… Read More


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