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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

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Top Dogs Raise More Money with Less Barking

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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Is Strategic Planning Dead?

What do you do when you need a new vision, and you need it—NOW? That’s the dilemma faced by Children at Heart Ministries, a 64 year-old child and family care organization made up of Texas Baptist Children’s Home, STARRY, Gracewood and Miracle Farm. The four ministries are part of a larger family that includes the Children at Heart Foundation, Children at Heart Ministries and Children At Heart Family Services. It’s a complicated structure that made strategic planning difficult, but all the more needed. In a climate where many business know-it-alls scrap mission statements, vision casting and other elements of basic strategic planning, Children at Heart proved some of the old basics of the process still apply. And, many of these principles are elastic. They can be adjusted to meet various situations, even a shorter time frame. "This process has completely reinvigorated our boards, staff and leadership," said Dawson Clark, COO of the Children at Heart Foundation. The approach and lessons learned ...

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4 Ways to Grow Monthly Donations

Do you pay the bills or sign the checks for your nonprofit? Are you facing another summer slump in giving? It’s probably occurred to you more than once just how valuable donors who give every month really are to you. The bills come in every month like clockwork, so it sure is nice to have some income that’s just as regular! Just think, if you promote monthly giving this year, then it could drastically decrease your summer slump next year. The questions is, “How do you get donors to see the value in helping you defray your operating costs?” How can you get a larger group of supporters to write monthly checks or, better yet, give via credit/debit cards or EFT every single month? Here are four ways proven to be effective among the ministries we’re serving at Advocace: 1. Understand their motivation. There are specific reasons some people will choose to give on a regular basis. They are a select group and are very different from capital campaign donors, for example. These donors believe in your mission and s ...

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7 Ways to Retain More Donors

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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The Hidden Cost of Not Setting Goals

Are you aware that everything you do has a time price tag? It’s true. Each meeting, phone call, report, project or email generates an opportunity cost. When you say “yes” to any activity, you are also saying “no” to something else. What if some of the projects, connections and tasks you didn’t do were the very things that could have propelled your mission forward? Chances are, planning is one of the victims lying on the cutting room floor of opportunity cost. Case in Point: LSRDO Study Advocace recently released The Listener Supported Radio Development Outlook—a study of 160+ radio stations across the country whose survival depends on raising funds from donors. One of its key findings? There is a direct correlation between a failure to plan by not setting goals and a failure to succeed in fundraising. Stations whose fundraising program is essentially “do what we did last year” fail to make budgets and survive, for now, by cutting expenses. Conversely, those who set goals and create a plan grow and expand ...

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The Most Important Eleven Seconds

One ringy dingy at a time, you could be losing donors!  How your donors are treated on the phone will influence how long they will give to your cause! Learn the three critical success factors to keeping donors from hanging up on you and giving to your organization.  

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

Duh, if you want to raise more money, you at last have to keep the donors you have, if not add more, right?  Then why are so many ministries obsessed with acquiring new donors while ignoring the critically important need to retain more donors?  Are you losing ground? Statistically, yes.  You will lose up to half your donors this year alone! Learn how to keep more donors and raise more money in 2014!

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Make 2014 Your Most Excellent Year!

How can you pursue excellence for your non-profit Christian organization in 2014? Three ways to jump start the process and three simple but very effective questions you should ask to be more effective in the coming year. 

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Make 2014 'The Year of the Donor'

If this year took you back a step or two, focus on growing income by improving donor relations in 2014.  Here are three quick reasons why this should be your top priority, and four quick steps to get you started.

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Is it "Development," "Fundraising" or "Stewardship?"

Listen to a group of Christians talk about pretty much anything for very long and you can end up pretty confused.   Take for instance what we call the head guy at church.  Is he… Pastor? Minister? Priest? Elder? Teacher? And is he (or in some cases, she) to be called “Reverend” or shown some  other special deference? The same holds true when it comes to raising money in Christian organizations. We differ on what to call our departments and on what term to use in describing their activity.  Some great Christian schools are calling it “Advancement” and have combined fundraising activity with public relations and student recruitment.   Others still call it “Development.” Many Christian leaders don’t like “development” as  a term at all because it can be used to describe everything from information technology to nation building and even biology.   They prefer “stewar ...

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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