Smartideas

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

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Stop making assumptions about your donors

“Major donors like to give in their backyard.” I call BS! One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that many people think that major… Read More


How Confident Is Your Fundraising Posture?

Put the proposition in human terms.  Imagine two people that you observe on multiple occasions: One seems to be playing a role, the other seems comfortable… Read More


Do you have a job or do you have a mission?

“I was on a mission from God.” I met John the first year I started working in major gifts. John was a retired financial advisor… Read More


How Stereotyping Wealth Leads to Missed Fundraising Opportunities

When you think about the wealthiest of earners in the U.S., those who fall into the top 0.1 percent, who comes to mind? For most,… 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 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


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


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


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


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


13 Reasons Why Donor Prospects Say ‘No’ to Major Gifts Proposals

Why Do Major Gifts Prospects Decide Not To Give? In the vast majority of situations where this happens, the reason is because the fundraiser failed… 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


The 12 Donor Archetypes – How to Tap into Donor Identities and Generate Bigger Gifts

You Might Be Wondering Why a Fundraiser Needs to Care About Archetypes. Fundraising is all about storytelling (and story listening). Sometimes a fundraising story will… Read More


6 Simple Reasons Some Fundraisers are More Effective than Others

One of my clients raised over $1 Million in the last 30 days in major gifts. Here are some of the reasons they have been… Read More


7 ‘Hire Me Now’ Traits of Highly Effective Major Gifts Officers

Hiring major gifts officers is hard. First, it’s just not an easy position to fill because there is a lot of turnover. But more than… 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


Don’t Give Up!

“I’ve already made all of my giving decisions for this year, so there’s no reason for us to meet.” Here is another common objection that… Read More


The Next-Gen Major Gifts Fundraising Metrics Your Nonprofit Should Be Measuring

If you looked up suggestions for which major gifts metrics and KPIs your organization should be measuring, most of what you’d find would seem fairly… 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


The Most Important Lessons Learned by Retail Clothes Stores: With Obvious Parallels to Fundraising

If customers don’t see themselves in what you offer, they won’t come in the store. Those that come in are often “just looking’. If a… Read More


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