Smartideas

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

MarketSmart characters
MarketSmart lightbulb icon
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


This Research-Backed Legacy Giving Strategy Avoids the Topic of Death

What’s the hardest thing about bringing up legacy giving with an aging and loyal donor or supporter? Death. Focusing on that tends to trigger the… 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


The Zoology of Fundraising: More Chameleons, Fewer Peacocks

The Education Advisory Board, after analyzing donations to 1,217 major-gift officers at 89 colleges and universities in the United States and Britain, concluded the most… Read More


Restricted Giving: Why Your Organization Should Offer More Options

Restricted giving doesn’t sound like a good thing, just from the sound of it. The idea of restricting anything, especially giving, doesn’t seem like it… 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


3 Things You Must Define to Receive a $5 Million Gift

A friend of mine recently asked for a $5 Million gift. THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY! But in terms of the money required to make… Read More


Why public gratitude and admiration are key to the donor’s hero story

Monomyth ending The universal hero story (monomyth) ends with the hero’s return. The hero returns to his original world. The return confirms his new heroic… Read More


The Pathway to a Significant Philanthropic Investment is Not Paved With Just “Visits”

A common KPI used to evaluate fundraisers is the number of visits they pay on prospects in their portfolios. It should be replaced by PPIs… Read More


How gratitude completes the donor hero story

“In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it.” – Carl Jung[1] Monomyth resolution In… 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


6 Ways to Reframe or Lower the Costs of Giving a Major Gift

Like any other donors, wealthy donors want to give. But when wealthy donors give, it’s usually a major gift, meaning it’s a big number. And… Read More


How blockbuster movies can help you make the perfect fundraising ask

Universal challenge Let’s go to the movies! And when we go, what will we see? If it’s a blockbuster, we’ll often see a similar underlying… Read More


How to Find A Good Advancement Leader: Ask the Right Questions

You’ve had a least one bad boss or worked in at least one depleting advancement operation. Now you’re interviewing for a job and want to… Read More


Why Tax Deductions for Major Gifts Matter to Wealthy Donors

A basic marketing precept is to “know your audience.” As a major gifts officer or fundraiser, your audience is wealthy donors. How well do you… Read More


Top 10 Ways You Can Benefit from Conducting a Donor Survey

First, it’s important to recognize that there are two reasons to conduct a donor survey: To conduct research To raise money Generally, you must pick one… Read More


To Visit or Not to Visit: Choose Wisely

It doesn’t really matter if you go on a visit TODAY. It also doesn’t really matter if you DON’T go on a visit TODAY. But… 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


How to be an authentic guiding sage for your donors

The guiding sage The hero’s journey is a universal story. In that universal story, the guiding sage plays a powerful archetypal role. This role can… Read More


Tips for hiring major gift fundraisers

“Let’s hire Johnny… He knows everybody!” Here’s the problem: Johnny is an idiot. Let me explain. So many times, organizations want to hire major gift… 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


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


Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

Subscribe to our blog today and get actionable fundraising ideas delivered straight to your inbox!