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

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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


Dr. James explains what happens when fundraising metrics go bad

Fightin’ words Want to start a fight in a fundraising comment section? That’s easy. Start talking metrics. Opinions are often passionate. And they often conflict…. 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


Unlock Bigger Gifts – 3 Types of Questions that Position Major Donors for Maximum Generosity

Why do too many major donor prospects not give, or give far less than their giving capacity? One of the main reasons is because they… 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


The Top Fundraising Enemy Standing Between Gift Officer and Donor

Major gift fundraising is hard work. It’s about growing a relationship between donor and gift officer, as they work together to advance the donor’s hero… 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


How Fundraisers Can Reconcile the Competition that Exists Between Your Donors’ & Administrators’ Hero Stories

Story conflict Advance the donor’s hero story. In major gifts fundraising, this works. It works for the donor. The donor is the hero. It works… Read More


How “Polite Persistence” Pays Off for Major Gifts Fundraisers

It took me 16 contacts over a 12-month period to get a visit scheduled with one couple. They then went on to give over $100,000…. Read More


The Greatest Worry of Newly Wealthy Families – and How Major Gift Officers Can Help

Newly Wealthy Donors Aren’t Anything Like Donors Who Come from Families with Generational Wealth They have different world views, different perspectives about money, work, and… Read More


Why fundraisers feel stuck in the middle between Administrators and Donors

Hero story In the universal hero story, a guiding sage helps the hero. The sage Challenges the hero to begin the journey, Introduces the hero… Read More


The Faces of Philanthropy: Are They Changing?

The list below was an attempt by Forbes Magazine to capture the “faces of philanthropy” way back in 1994. It’s interesting because it is from… 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


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