Smartideas

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

Why what you do is called ADVANCEMENT

Ever wonder why what you do is called ‘advancement’? Here’s the answer: Your primary role is to help donors move themselves forward through their own… Read More


Fundraising Metrics Vs. The Natural Rhythms of Philanthropy

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” It’s been cited as one of the two most important quotes about business. The author is… Read More


How to Quickly Learn What Used to Take Experienced Fundraisers Decades to Understand and Apply

Major gifts fundraising is a job that requires an advanced set of skills. In other words, you must know some basics to simply do this… Read More


Two Powerful Types of Questions You Should NOT Ask Major Gift Donors Until Trust Is Established

At some point in your engagement with donors and supporters there comes a magical moment when you realize a person trusts you. At that moment,… Read More


How to Retain Your Best Fundraisers and Donors – Listen

When we poll fundraisers in advance of team practices (I don’t like the word “training” because people aren’t pets), we see very similar responses across… Read More


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


The Power of Building Relationships: Why Donors Need Good Fundraisers

Why, of all people, would a donor want to build a relationship with a fundraiser? If you are a donor, it sounds like a questionable… 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


5 Data-Driven Strategies to Increase Donor Survey Response Rates

The more you can learn about major donors before you meet them, the more effective you will be at that first meeting. A good first… 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 to Hire the Right People for Raising Major Gifts

Are the people working as major gift officers at your organization in the right role? Do they have the best skill set and mindset for… 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


10 Confidence Boosting Tips for Scheduling More Visits

I used to be TERRIFIED of scheduling visits. Here are 10 things I did to build confidence in a system that allowed me to schedule… 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


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