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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

Posts Tagged 'Major Donor'

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How To Fail At Major Gifts

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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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Top Dogs Raise More Money with Less Barking

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You’ve worked hard to get where you are as a ministry leader. People just like you sit behind the desks of businesses, foundations and corporations around your community. They’ve worked hard to ascend the ladder of success, too. That’s why so many of them are less than impressed with your organization when they never see your face, shake your hand or even talk to you on the phone. Leaders who avoid fundraising–especially those who place the responsibility of major donor cultivation on someone else are missing the boat. You are “top dog” at your ministry. Most of your donors are “top dogs” too and they want to know you care about them and appreciate their support. Executive Directors, Presidents and General Managers need to find a way to rearrange their schedules to make major gift cultivation a priority. There is a direct correlation between time spent with major donors and meeting or exceeding fundraising goals. In one study of 140 organizations, all of those who met their goals had leaders who spent at ...

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7 Ways to Retain More Donors

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Keeping the donors you have is the key to growing income. Studies show that most of us are pretty lousy at it. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows that 3 of 4 new donors won’t make a second gift. We’re also getting worse. The same study shows the collective donor retention rate at just 27%, down from 33% about 10 years ago. Bummer. Keep Donors in the Loop But there is something we can do about it—relay information that will give donors the desire to stay. This is important for all nonprofits, but it’s mission critical for Christian organizations. After all, the reason we sometimes call what we do “stewardship” is because we are supposed to be stewarding or taking care the donors God has provided. 1. Report on their last donation. It’s easy when a gift funded or helped fund a project. But even Christian broadcasters, who get pledges and gifts from donors to stay on the air, can share a life change story and link it back to the donor’s last gift. A photo can drive the impact home. Celebrate your do ...

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Asking Naturally: Replacing Fear With Faith

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Don't Second That Emotion! This whole business of asking for money conjures up a whole host of emotions.  I've seen men and women with titles like "Executive Director" and "President" quake with fear when they are told that the only way their ministries will survive is to take up the regular practice of looking other people in the eye and asking for help. I've seen board members and volunteers get red-faced angry with veins sticking out of their necks when I tell them the best way to fulfill their obligation of service is to go ask their friends to support the ministry.  Anger and fear like this have caused some people to make some pretty bad decisions...Things like firing development directors for poor performance when the real problem is a lack of participation by the board and top leadership in the development process. Or, hiring a consulting firm or agency to "fix" a fundraising problem that is essentially a lack of focus on major gifts. Replace Fear With Faith Anger and fear have n ...

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Raising Money To Raise Money

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It sounds a little nutty, but you really can interest some donors in supporting a plan to fund your fundraising efforts.  These moneys can be used to do basic donor research or to produce videos, brochures, web sites and other collateral material to better tell your story.  And, let's be honest, these funds can be used to secure the services of professional fundraising counsel. (Gee, what a great idea!) In the non-profit world, activities that help you raise more money generally fall under the category of "capacity building."  Grant makers will often fund capacity building because they like helping non-profit organizations grow.  You might be familiar with the old saying: "Feed a man to fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a life time."   That's the idea. Some donors like the idea of giving you money that will raise more money because its as if their gifts are being multiplied making a donation a lot more like an investment.   Raising money to raise ...

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Prepare for Impact: Can Your Ministry Prove Its Worth?

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Our parents and grandparents' generation gave of their hard-earned money to support charities and ministries because it was "the thing to do."  They liked being a part of something bigger than themselves, and enjoyed knowing they were building something great.   Today's donors, well, not so much. They like proof that their dollars are actually achieving something and that something had better not be just keeping the lights on for another month.  They want hard, concrete evidence that a donation has made a difference.  This puts more pressure on you as a non-profit leader to measure everything you do. And it's really not unfair when you think about it.  Business leaders have always been focused on the bottom line.  Successful schools have been focused on "outcome-based education" for years now.  Why should your ministry be any different?  One of Advocace's core principles says "you cannot achieve what you cannot measure," so we definitely believe in teaching our clien ...

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No More Rubber Chicken! Fixing Fundraising Events

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Say "fundraiser" and most people cringe.  We've all been there. Rubber chicken and a has-been, pseudo sports celebrity droning on and on behind a rented podium with a squalky sound system.   All this followed by an awkward, ham-handed attempt to get you to take out your checkbook and make a gift after you've already paid $20, $40 or even $100 for a ticket.  Events like this sap your energy and kill your evening. It doesn't have to be like this.  Follow some simple dos and don'ts to give your current fundraiser a makeover or to set you up for success with a brand new one: Do consider lunch or breakfast instead of dinner.  Dinner carries with it a lot of expectations on the part of attendees, and everything from the venue to the food and even the table service is usually more expensive.   Don't  focus on creating a draw for strangers to attend your event, like a celebrity speaker.  Work a carefully planned out strategy over the year to empower your current donors and c ...

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Learn The 3 R's To Survive & Thrive

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Quickly answer this:  How many new donors did your ministry add last week? If you don't know the answer, or if you're not happy with the number, then your ministry could be headed in the wrong direction.  You see, the choice is really simple for today's non-profits...Grow or die.  Adding new donors starts by adding new names to your database.  So, adding new Facebook fans, Twitter followers and e-newsletter subscribers (and of course, new donors) has to become your #1 priority.  The reality is that unless you grow the relationships you need to support your mission, programs and services, you will no longer be able to afford to support them...No matter how important they are to you or anyone else.   Your ministry needs so many things to be great.  A new web site, apps for smart phones and tablets, a strategy to harness the power of social media, a new approach to direct marketing.  But where will the dollars come from to fuel these activities when, as they saying goes " ...

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6 Signs You Need Help With Fundraising

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What if you were so sick, you couldn't even get yourself to the doctor? Of course, any of us would reach out to the nearest person and ask for help, right?  But the same common sense logic doesn't always apply to ministries and fundraising.   Not all of our organizations wait to hire us when they are in a crisis mode, but I would say that the vast majority of them do.  They have watched their donor lists and dollars dwindle for years before they are willing to even listen to some ideas for making their ministry healthy again.   There are many reasons for this.  Pride is certainly one of them. No one likes to admit failure, and for some people in fundraising, hiring a consultant is admitting just that.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  We work with all types of orgnanizations large and small, literally from Maine to California. Some of them need a lot of help, and others need only a little of our expertise at a time in order to be successful.  Hiring a consultant i ...

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You Have Not Because You Ask Not

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Busyness and fundraising seem to go together.  We've always reports to run, letters to write, brochures to print and events to plan.  But why is it that when it comes to asking, the one thing all of this activity is meant to support, we find it much easier to find something else to do? Let's be honest.  Most of us hate asking just about anyone for almost anything. We hate to ask mostly because we are afraid of being told "no."  Its like that one, two little word is a stake and we're Dracula. We're afraid "no" will be driven through our hearts and kill us for all eternity.  It's a silly fear, really. No one has ever died from being told "no."  And often in the final analysis, "no" doesn't even mean "no."  (For more on "The Many Faces of No" read an earlier blog post here.) Another reason we hate to ask is because we hate to be asked, ourselves...Or so we think.  The truth is, when we can respond with a "yes" we actually enjoy the experience of being asked.  It ...

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Comments
  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
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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,

Jerry