Smartideas

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

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


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


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


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