Smartideas

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

5 Essential Tips and Strategies for Improving How You Make Outreach to Major Donor Prospects

Making outreach to major donor prospects requires a set of skills that too often get shoved to the back burner. And yet, outreach is one… Read More


Why I Don’t Like Recommended Ask Amounts

For the record, I don’t like the idea of using SUGGESTED ASK AMOUNTS. Do you? I don’t believe in presupposing what amount someone might give… Read More


What Happens When We Don’t Understand the Why of Giving

Not as many people give according to our “strategic pillars” as we would like to believe or as our fundraising reports suggest. In fact, we… Read More


Yes, you have to spend money to raise money, but…

A lot of money spent on fundraising has little or no effect on fundraising results. And when you spend money on the wrong things, you… Read More


6 Reasons Why Donor Surveys Work at Engaging Wealthy Supporters and Prospects

Getting that initial engagement from a major donor prospect is a big hurdle. Yes, we all want to meet with donors, have great conversations, build… Read More


How Balanced or Imbalanced is Your Fundraising?

Fundraising should be as comfortable as two people exploring possibilities. If done wisely and well, fundraising is nothing more than two people exploring possibilities. That… Read More


Dr. James explains why identifying with others is so powerful in a donor’s hero story

Effective fundraising starts with identity. Compelling fundraising story connects the donation story with the donor’s story. When does a story become the donor’s story? When… Read More


How Enhancing a Donor’s Moral Identity Can Advance their Donor Hero Story

Effective fundraising can deliver real value to donors. For example, it can enhance public reputation. This external identity has tangible economic value.[1] But fundraising can… Read More


Dr. James explains why the feeling “People like me make gifts like this” is so powerful in major gifts fundraising

Verba docent, exempla trahunt. “Words teach people, examples compel them.” – Latin proverb[1] It’s simple. We want the donor to say, “Yes.” But how? How… Read More


Fundraising Requires A Great Deal of Courage – Not Just the Courage to Ask

I hear it often. I ask an advancement leader how a particular fundraiser is doing or ask a president how an advancement leader is doing… Read More


Why Propensity Fails at Helping You Pre-Qualify Major Donors for Outreach

Here’s the situation: You’ve been tasked with finding a fresh batch of potential major donors to engage. You’ve been given an arbitrary and unreasonably short… Read More


How Predictive Analytics in Fundraising Fails to Deliver Accurate Caseloads

Every industry loves to predict the future. We predict stock markets, sports outcomes, educational outcomes, climate change, weather, and performance in just about any business… Read More


Giving vs. Sharing: The Power of Community in Major Gifts Fundraising

Giving vs. sharing Are we asking people to give? Or are we asking them to share? This might feel like a trivial choice of synonyms…. Read More


Transforming Average Major Gift Officers into Great Major Gift Officers

❌ Average MGO: Shares lots of great information. ✅ Great MGO: Asks important questions and listens.   ❌ Average MGO: Has a 10 day outlook…. Read More


The Unmeasurable Impact of Human Connection in Advancement

The most important part of advancement is something we can’t measure. It’s the problem with all fundraising systems and process charts. They depict human decision-making… Read More


The Art of the Ask: How to Get the Full Amount from Your Donors

❗ THE DONOR BEAT YOU TO THE ASK ❗ We’ve all been there. You’re in the visit. You’ve been planning this for months. It’s finally… 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


Dr. James explains how to harness friendship reciprocity to unlock heroic donations

Biologists model sustainable giving in nature with a simple game.[1] The heroic donation comes from an extreme version of this game. The numbers game In… Read More


Debunked Fundraising Myth: The #1 Reason People Don’t Give Is Because They Weren’t Asked

It gets posted all over social media. Featured in books. Heard at seminars. Repeated on webinars. It’s hard to work very long in fundraising without… Read More


The importance of expressing impact and gratitude in fundraising

The “one big thing” in fundraising is this: Advance the donor’s hero story. The previous article set in this series explored this in detail. The… Read More


Dr. James explains the power of giving: why leading with a gift always wins

Lead with a gift: The primal-giving game Biologists model sustainable giving in nature with a game.[1] This primal-giving game models reciprocal altruism.[2] What’s the best… Read More


The Power of Follow Up: The One Question Every Major Gift Fundraiser Should Ask

I didn’t know I should be asking this one question when talking to donors: “When would be a good time for me to follow up?”… Read More


Why Standard Fundraising Practices Are Hurting Your Philanthropic Partnerships

So much of standard fundraising practice is inconsistent with philanthropic partnership building. Would you enter into, feel comfortable with, or stay in a partnership if… Read More


Why reciprocity must be an essential tool in your fundraising toolbox

Every single human being in every single society on earth subscribes to an unspoken rule when it comes to reciprocation as follows: If someone does… Read More


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