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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

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How To Fail At Major Gifts

You may have read your fair share of blogs, articles and even books on how to successfully raise major gift funds. I'm writing you today on just the opposite—this is a blog about how to fail. Usually posts give you two or three “steps to success”. But, since I'm telling you how to fail, I don't have a list like that. In fact, I have only one main tip to share. The truth is, from our years of experience working with hundreds of nonprofits, we've discovered that there is only one sure fire way to screw up major gifts. Sure Fire Way To Fail Are you ready for it? It's really simple. And, what I am about to say may be easily overlooked. But, put this tip into practice, and I guarantee your major gift program will crash and burn spectacularly. Stay in the office. That's it. That's my formula for un-success in major gift fundraising. Ta da! Yes, all you really need to do to be a washed up, miserable failure at raising four, five and six figure gifts from your donors is to stay put, stay in and don't get out t ...

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My Excitement to Work with Christian Nonprofits

Do you wake up every morning with a specific, God-given vision for your ministry?

As a life-long follower of Jesus, my goal each day is to help Christian ministries and nonprofits, like yours, fulfill their vision. I would love to take part in helping you grow more income for your ministry that will allow you to reach more people for the Gospel.

If you’ve watched this video and would like to talk more about how we can work together to achieve your goals, please give me a call at (972) 304-1100 or send me an email here. It would be my pleasure to discuss these opportunities with you.

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Local Christian Radio’s Three Part Plan

You and I have one thing in common: We both believe local Christian radio still changes lives. With smart phones, Pandora and Spotify, online listening and the aggressiveness of networks wiping out local stations, it feels like local radio is under attack. It seems like some people don’t believe in what you do any more. But I still do. And you do, too. How Can We Keep Going? Sharathon income has become notoriously unstable. Many stations are doing more on-air fundraising just to bring in the same amount of dollars. Most station budgets have been flat for years. And the sluggishness in income growth couldn’t have come at a worse time. Like never before, stations need to do more marketing, more outreach and invest in new technologies to stay relevant. For all of the reasons stated above, in addition to being passionate about what you do, I also feel like I’m on a mission from God. I want local Christian radio to not just survive, I want it to thrive. And I have a three part plan to help every local statio ...

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Three Big Mailing Mistakes

I’m on everybody’s mailing list. I give token gifts and sign up online so I can read the mail you are sending out. I learn a lot, and this time of year I also weep a lot. A lot of the stories shared are just that touching. I also find three big mistakes being made in solicitation letters. Avoid these and you could dramatically increase the amount of money you raise through the mail: One: It is not all about you. A solicitation letter is about the reader, not your ministry. True, you must share your heart, vision, needs, and stories of impact but you must do it in a way that engages the recipient of the letter. The most important word in your letter needs to be “you.” Start with that and put in as many references about your reader as possible. The letter will instantly be more engaging. Two: Communicate value. Every word on the page is precious. It must communicate something of value to the reader. First, ask yourself the question, “What do my readers want to hear?” Then, decide what to write about. Ma ...

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Four Ways to Target Last Minute, Year-End Donors

It’s not too late to plan a year-end giving strategy. About one-third of donors typically wait until the week between Christmas and New Years to make their largest charitable gifts. Last minute, year-end donors give for the same reasons as anybody else— because they: · personally connect with your mission · trust your organization’s identity · want to be part of a group supporting a cause · feel good about supporting you · have empathy for those you are helping But year-end donors are also motivated by the Midnight, December 31st deadline. They’ve put off giving for any number of reasons and now are highly motivated to quickly find a cause they trust, and can support, in order to offset 2014 income. Maybe they received a call from their accountant, or a brokerage statement arrived in the mail, or they took a quick look at their finances. But for whatever reason, giving to your Bible College, Christian School, Camp or Mission will solve a problem for them: A tax deduction. There is still time to get a ...

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Thanking Your Way to Higher Income

Imagine you and I are good friends. One day I call asking you to drive across town during rush hour, pick me up and take me to the airport, which is about 30 miles away. You don’t really want to, but we are friends, so you come. When I get in the car, I talk only about myself. I never once ask you about your family, your job or your life. Then, as I am leaving, I ask you for $10 to buy a sandwich. You grab your wallet and hand me $20. I offer a quick “thanks, man” and walk away. How Do You Feel? Driving away you probably don’t feel very good about me. How are you going to respond next time I ask for help? I’m pretty sure that if I actually treated a friend like that, my next call would go to straight to voicemail. Our Donors Sadly, this is often how we treat our donors. And we wonder why 40-60% of them leave after making just one gift. If you could get your donors to make a second, third or fourth gift, you’d raise more money. It’s simple—keep more, raise more. But how? Making donors feel appreciated ...

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Lessons from Restaurant Impossible Chef Robert Irvine

I’m kind of a Food Network junkie. I know, it’s not very intellectual or macho of me. However, watching teams battle it out in competition or seeing Ina Garten’s deft hand with “really good” ingredients helps me relax! One of my favorite shows, “Restaurant Impossible,” features Chef Robert Irvine. He’s a drill sergeant and a shock therapist in one giant, British package. The things this man has said while in the face of dysfunctional restaurant owners will make you cringe. But in the end, his confrontational style wins the day. After Chef Robert has finished yelling, insulting and sometimes wielding a sledgehammer, the restaurateur is forced to wake up and smell the crème brulee. They are forced to change, opening up new vistas full of limited choice menus and higher profits. Star-Struck Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I queued up for a latte at an airport Starbucks and spotted the celebrity chef himself standing in front of me. A brief but nice fan-to-star chat ensued leading to a shameless se ...

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My Heroes Act on What the Numbers Say

Perhaps because the average development director stays in their job for about 18 months, it’s hard to find people with longevity to look up to in the fundraising arena. But I consistently find myself admiring those leaders who do two things: 1. Measure everything that has to do with their efforts to raise money. 2. Act on what the numbers say. It’s relatively easy to commit to measuring results. Adding appeal codes to your mailings, tracking response by segmentation and printing out a report sounds complicated, but it’s pretty simple, especially with today’s software. Taking the time to analyze those numbers and apply them logically to your direct mail plan, on the other hand, takes raw courage. The numbers don’t lie, but they sure do put you in an uncomfortable situation from time to time. Numbers over Pride Like the numerous times I’ve had to tell a ministry leader that his beautiful, new logo should not go on the outside envelope for his Christmas mailing. Typically, this comes up when using Genuine ...

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There’s Only One Problem with Your Strategic Plan

You spent weeks, maybe even months, developing your latest strategic plan. It required meetings, retreats, discussions, research and endless analysis. You argued tooth and nail over just the right phrasing as you carefully wordsmithed the document. And now copies of your plan are freshly filed in everyone’s top right desk drawer. The Problem It probably won’t get implemented. You see, most strategic plans, even the ones that cost big dollars to generate, never impact the world outside the meeting room. They live for one bright, shiny moment and everyone breathes a sigh of relief before going back to their harried existence in the real world. Follow Through Why do so many strategic plans die an instant death? They are never backed up by a detailed action plan. Teams are often exhausted from the creative energy required to birth a new strategic vision. They are generally under-counseled on the importance of following through with the task. Follow through only occurs after they have tied the n ...

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Year End Fundraising Success Tips

More than 75% of all donations made in 2014 will be made between November 1st and December 31st. Are you and your ministry ministry prepared to do the right things to grow your income this fourth quarter? Your success or failure really depends on four critical factors: 1. Treat it like a campaign, not a “Christmas letter.” Direct mail is only one channel available to you. It’s arguably still the most productive channel. But when you send multiple carefully targeted emails, you increase your chances of a response to a direct mail letter. Advocace has seen strong evidence that emails and letters work synergistically, with one channel triggering gifts the other. It will also help to make calls to selected donors and post on social media about impact, but do not ask in this outlet. (Asking on Facebook will cost you relationships!) There are other possible channels, unique to your organization, type of ministry or location that you can use to creatively pull people into your vision. 2. Set a goal and have a d ...

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  1. Re: 7 Ways to Retain More Donors

    Great stuff! So good to see you link donors with the work. Remember how Paul linked the supporting folks...

    -- Jamie

  2. Re: Fundraising's Duh Factor: Keep more donors, raise more money

    Great read, I can appreciate the small things that keep the donor engaged.

    -- LaTanya

  3. Re: The Lapsed, Declined & The Disengaged

    Thanks Jerry. Organizations can also engage a credit card processing provider who enables donors to make...

    -- MKordic

  4. Re: Asking Naturally: Replacing Fear With Faith

    Thanks for the great post, Jerry--full of biblical truth! We join the Lord in His work through ministry...

    -- Will Stevens

The Development Evangelist
by Jerry Grimes
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About Jerry

I’ve been involved in the media for over 30 years with experience that spans television, radio and print. But my growing passion over the past decade has become development for non-profit organizations.

I love being a special friend and advisor to dozens of ministry leaders and radio station managers across the country. (I believe Christian radio has only just begun to reach its full potential.)Many non-profit organizations are functioning at a level far below what they could achieve if development were given its proper place in the management process.

My skill set includes development, marketing, strategic planning and leadership development as a certified Ministry Coach..

Before joining Advocace, I served as a development consultant for another firm, and as General Manager for one of the top Christian music stations in the country, and as Donor Marketing Director for WAY-FM Media Group. I also enjoyed raising funds as Director of Development for the University Of South Carolina School Of Law, as well as an active speaker, writer and facilitator.

You can find out more about how I help non-profit organizations and how to contact me here.

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog,