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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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The Three Characteristics That Distinguish the Best Advancement Practitioners

What are the three characteristics that distinguish the best advancement practitioners? Integrity, Curiosity, and Discipline. Of the three, integrity is the most important. It entails… Read More


Dr. James explains what happens when fundraising metrics go bad

Fightin’ words Want to start a fight in a fundraising comment section? That’s easy. Start talking metrics. Opinions are often passionate. And they often conflict…. Read More


The Worst Way to Start a Major Gifts Fundraising Call

“Is now a good time to talk?” This is one of the worst ways to start a call to schedule a visit (unless you know… Read More


5 Questions to Help Identify Your Best (and Potentially Most Transformative) Major Donors in a Sea of Prospects

Some gift officers have dozens of prospects in their caseloads. Others have over a hundred. Dunbar’s number aside, we all know it’s impossible to maintain… Read More


What Dr. James means when he recommends you harness the power of storytelling in major gifts fundraising

Monomyth steps The “one big thing” in fundraising is always the same: Advance the donor’s hero story. The universal hero story, called the monomyth, includes… Read More


Unlock Bigger Gifts – 3 Types of Questions that Position Major Donors for Maximum Generosity

Why do too many major donor prospects not give, or give far less than their giving capacity? One of the main reasons is because they… Read More


“I’ve never told anyone this before.”

If you’re working in major gifts and you’ve never heard this, you might need to alter your approach. Many of you reading this will be… Read More


The Greatest Worry of Newly Wealthy Families – and How Major Gift Officers Can Help

Newly Wealthy Donors Aren’t Anything Like Donors Who Come from Families with Generational Wealth They have different world views, different perspectives about money, work, and… Read More


How I leave voicemail messages that get returned

Generally here’s how I leave messages that get returned: APPRECIATION: I say ‘thank you’ (and I get sort of ’emotional and gracious’ in my tone……. Read More


What happens when you change your mindset

“I don’t want to waste your time.” Here is another common objection you will hear when trying to schedule visits. The donor will tell you… Read More


The 4 Core Values of First-Generation Wealthy Donors You Need to Understand

Wealth is becoming more concentrated among fewer people. You probably know that already. But what you may not understand is that first-generation wealthy people are… Read More


Introducing the Most Effective Legacy Gift Fundraising Strategy You’ve Never Heard Before

Imagine the following two scenarios. Scenario 1: You have 100 donors who have capacity to give a five-figure legacy gift, and they have a fairly… Read More


How to ask for a gift: Do you really have to ask?

When it comes to ‘how to ask for a gift,’ you’ll see there’s a parallel between how we conduct sales here at MarketSmart and how… Read More


3 Simple Ways to Start Major Donor Conversations Off on the Right Foot

“I’m interested in your story” Beginning a donor conversation by showing interest in their story works very well because people desperately want to be heard…. Read More


Why your greatest enemy in major gifts fundraising is the status quo

This challenge had me angry for more than a week… “Pharmaceutical sales reps have 15 meetings per day. Why can’t you?” Many years ago, I… 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


Better Fundraising Begins With Better Terminology

Words matter. They shape our thoughts. Our thoughts shape our actions and influence our decisions. The lexicon of fundraising is full of one-way terms, as… Read More


How to Respond When a Major Gifts Prospect Says ‘No’ to Making a Gift

No matter how well your major gifts conversation goes, sometimes the prospect still turns down the opportunity to make a transformational gift. The question for… Read More


What’s wrong with fundraising job titles?

Your job title as a fundraiser is part of the first impression you make with a donor. Of course, you might be wondering, “Come on…… Read More


12 Keys to Conducting Effective Donor Interviews

Curiosity is a fundraisers greatest asset. Yet even the most curious must learn to ask questions that yield the most insight into donor motivation and… Read More


The 6 Core Elements of a Well-Told, Well-Executed Donor Fundraising Story

Before you think this is another post about how to tell great fundraising stories, read this: This article is not about the elements of how… Read More


5 Strategies for Turning Smaller Major Gifts into Larger Ones

What’s the only thing better in fundraising than a major gift? A bigger major gift. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you… 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


4 Reasons Why Fundraisers Think Storytelling Matters

In case you missed my last post… I wrote about my unease with the storytelling surge in our sector. It made me uncomfortable because I… Read More


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