Smartideas

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

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


How transactional donor relationships kill generosity

In nature, giving to unrelated others can be sustainable. But it requires some form of reciprocity. This need not be immediate. It need not be… Read More


How to Respond Effectively to This Common Objection and Secure More Major Gifts

Have you heard this objection before? “I’ve been giving for 20 years. There’s nothing you can tell me I don’t already know.” This is an… Read More


Dr. James explains why sustainable giving starts by answering, “Do we have a shared future?”

It starts with a question In nature, sustainable giving to unrelated others does occur. But it happens only with reciprocal alliances. These alliances start by… Read More


9 Secrets for Success in Major Gifts Fundraising

Here are Nine Things I Wish I Knew My First Year in Major Gifts 1. Stop talking so much. Ask Good questions and listen. 2…. Read More


6 Reasons Pausing the Solicitation Process Can Increase the Amount of a Major Gift

Patience is powerful. When pursuing major gifts, it’s tempting to want to go fast, and to accept the first gift a donor offers. You don’t… Read More


How to build deeper connections with your donors using surveys

Socratic fundraising asks questions. It’s easy to think of this as face-to-face, one-on-one conversations. But sometimes that isn’t feasible. The right personnel aren’t available. Or… Read More


The Ultimate Source for Fundraising Questions – From Permission to Confirmation

Questions are the most powerful tool in a fundraiser’s toolbox. More than anything else, asking good fundraising questions will build trust with donors, allow them… Read More


Why tracking fundraising calls is your key to success

NO ONE WILL SAY YES TO A VISIT… I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING! Really? Frequently I’ll talk to someone who is just getting serious about scheduling visits… Read More


Why RFM Fails at Populating Fundraising Caseloads

Many nonprofits use RFM as a means to fill their fundraising caseloads with supposedly qualified prospects – people who have a good chance of becoming… Read More


Want More Gifts of Assets? Get the Wealthy to Talk about Their Wealth Assets

One of the most overlooked secrets to getting wealthy people to commit to a major gift is to simply get them talking about their wealth…. Read More


The Best Caseload Size for Gift Officers – A New Formula

What is the ideal caseload size for gift officers? A quick internet search serves up a classic example of the term ‘conventional wisdom.’ Nearly every… Read More


How to Make the Ask of a Gift in a Will Less Scary

Sure, asking for money is hard. But asking for an estate gift? Even experienced fundraisers can get squeamish. As Anne Melvin puts it, “For many… Read More


The Secret to Booking More Visits

DO THIS ONE THING TO BOOK MORE VISITS: The next time someone tells you they don’t want to visit… in other words, they slap you… Read More


For Stronger Philanthropic Partnerships: Match and Share Back Stories

I wasn’t interested in many Olympic sports until someone came up with the clever idea of preceding them with insightful and inspiring stories about the… Read More


Dr. James’ 3-step formula for making a compelling major gifts ask

Making the ask can be the scariest part of fundraising. Setting up social events is great fun. Being friendly with others is enjoyable. Talking about… Read More


The Importance of Being Authentic in Major Gifts Fundraising

Getting started in Major Gifts… better learn to golf! ❌FALSE❌ Of course, if you like to play golf and it works for you, party on…. Read More


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