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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

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The Impotence Of Being Earnest

Boredom is the number one killer of great fundraising campaigns. Our job as development professionals is to excite, interest and inspire prospective donors with our message, but far too often we obfuscate the essence of our message with data and drivel, leaving glazed eyes and blank expressions in our wake.  When it comes to sharing about your ministry, you should know everything you tell but you don't have to tell everything you know. To you, it may be essential for every prospect and donor you meet to hear "our whole story."   You may be a linear thinker who feels most comfortable presenting ideas in an A to Z format.  But your audience is driven by visual stimuli.  They find your sequential line up of the facts boring and tedious to listen to.  You want to give them A to Z so they'll really "get " who you are.  But they probably would be better motivated by hearing just about L, M, N, O and P.  The essence, the good part...The real passion about who you are. Good case p ...

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Prepare for Impact: Can Your Ministry Prove Its Worth?

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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7 Deadly Sins of Development

Did you know that there are seven things that could really cost you dearly in terms of donations or even shutter the doors of your ministry if left unchecked?  Read on and find out if you are committing any of the "7 Deadly Sins of Development." Sin #1: Forgetting Where Your Funding Comes From God provides all of the resources for the ministry He has called us to.  It's simple, right?  But how often do we forget that and begin to think that DONORS are providing for our work?  Make no mistake, donors are the conduit through which God provides, but it is HE that is doing the providing.  Getting away from the idea that God provides for us distorts our view of God and our donors.  It can lead us to manipulation and rob us of the simple joy that's found in understanding that we are merely stewards of what God provides.  Every now and then, ask yourself and your team members where your support comes from.  When they answer "donors" or "churches," remind them that ultima ...

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No More Rubber Chicken! Fixing Fundraising Events

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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Leaky Data Could Really Cost You

None of us sit around thinking about how the plumbing in our house works...until it doesn't. In order for the plumbing to work, all the pipes have to be connected.  It's really like a network, moving water where it is used in your home and then out into the sewer system.  As you may know all too well, one leaky pipe can cost you thousands of dollars in damaged ceilings and floors.   Similarly, you might not think much about the flow of data in your ministry until something stops working.  That something could very well be the growth of your donor database.  A healthy non-profit has a continual influx of prospective donors in the form of data going into your donor software system.  From there, prospects are solicited appropriately and hopefully, a decent percentage of them become donors.  The flow continues so that through effective donor communications, donors grow in their passion for your mission and commitment to helping you achieve it.  Small gift annual fund donor ...

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The Perfect Fundraising Letter

When it comes to fundraising letters, I'll bet you've seen it all.  There's the slick approach...A designer layout, color photos, trendy fonts and glossy paper.  They're more like brochures or magazines than letters, really. Then there are letters that look like they were done on a 1980s vintage Smith-Cornona typewriter, and even breakthrough techniques that replicate human handwriting. (Click here to see what I mean.)  But the best fundraising letter is always the one that works, and consistently test after test, from the Direct Marketing Association, show there are some best practices in letter writing and production that are proven to get results.  Based on the research I've read and my own experience, here's what we know for sure. The length seems to be important, and a longer letter is usually better than a shorter one.  There are many theories on why this is, but donors seem to think you don't have much of a case for asking them for money if you can do it on a sing ...

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Learn The 3 R's To Survive & Thrive

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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The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself Before Raising Funds

You probably ask yourself questions all the time as you go about the daily business of running your ministry.  Questions like "What do we really need to be more effective, reach more people?" or "When is the right time to start a new fundraising campaign?" even "Who can I ask to support this ministry that I haven't already asked?" But the best questions to ask yourself before attempting anything in the resource development arena don't start with "what" or "when."  They don't even begin with the classic "who."  The best questions that you should start asking before raising funds begin with "why." "Why Should Anyone Care? Many, many fundraisers have run aground in their efforts because they have failed to ask "why should anyone care about supporting our organization?" often enough.  Their anemic often incoherent case for support has robbed them of the opportunity to stir the passions of their donor base to provide the resources they so desperately need. "Why?" is a great question to a ...

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6 Signs You Need Help With Fundraising

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

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
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,

Jerry