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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

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4 Things Your Board Must Do

We fully expect board members to be engaged in the process of planning, budgeting and setting the future direction of the non-profit. Why wouldn’t it also make sense for the board to be actively engaged in fundraising, the life blood of any philanthropic endeavor?  To relegate this crucial aspect to staff is to deny the organization of a very powerful force that can make all the difference in its ability to achieve financial stability.   Board engagement is a signal to others who want to significantly give to the organization financially (and also with their time) that the organization is indeed worthy and responsible in a fiduciary sense.  Board participation in giving is the seal of approval many people are looking for when they ask that oft repeated question: “Do all of your board members also give?”   The internationally regarded Indiana University Center for Philanthropy, as well as the Foundation Center and the American Fundraising Professionals organization have ...

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Gratitude Helps You Gain Altitude

Maybe you have a friend like my buddy, Marc.  It seems like he has a coined phrase or handy cliche to express his every thought in almost every situation.  Not long ago, we were talking about how important it is to make sure your donors, your staff and even your board understand how thankful you are for how they help you achieve success.  Marc trotted out this old chestnut that is hackneyed as it is true:  "An attitude of gratitude produces altitude." It made me laugh, but after I thought about it for a while, I realized just how powerful gratitude can be.  I've started new, meaningful relationships with some of the most important people in my life just by saying two words:  "Thank you."  I've seen ice between myself and others literally melt away when I took the time to acknowledge something they had done for me that others might have taken for granted.  I have made a career out of helping ministries learn how to show appreciation and affirm the people God has give ...

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Majoring In Major Gifts: Worth The Effort

Major Donors Right Under  Your Nose: Where on earth will you find the money needed to take your ministry to the next level? Chances are, it's all right there in your donor file.  When I ran a non-profit organization, I quickly learned that there were people giving relatively modest gifts on a fairly regular basis who were capable of giving much, much more.  In one case, a donor giving $500 or $1,000 gifts every few months turned out to be one of the wealthiest people in the state with a net worth of more than $60 million! Getting buy-in from such well healed donors takes time and effort, and it requires that you put in place something that most ministries hardly ever think about....A major gifts program. How To Identify Your Major Donors Giving history is the key to unlocking the secrets in your donor file.  A rule of thumb in fundraising is that someone giving $1,000 as a single gift is capable of giving $10,000 that same year,  if properly motivated.   Who are your potential ...

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Why Your Mail Will Take Longer In 2012 & What To Do About It

Big changes went into effect on January 1st that could seriously hamper your ability to raise funds through the mail in 2012.   Insufficient Postage:  What’s Up At The Post Office? The sinking ship that is our United States Postal Service is closing half of its processing centers in the U.S. and is eying more than 1,900 post offices for elimination.  This is more than belt tightening in reaction to such things as the rise of email and the recession.  These are serious, draconian cuts that will have a dramatic effect on how mail is delivered in this country once they are put into full effect.  Guaranteed Delivery:  Mailbags Full Of Frustration In order to deal with a 50% cut to its mail processing capacity, USPS will now take even longer to deliver your fundraising letters if mailed at the non-profit rate  Currently, half of all mail takes two stops to get delivered from any point in the system to the average home.  At each stop, USPS can set aside non- ...

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The Fine Art Of Setting Appointments

You may love your web cam and think everyone should have one, but the simple fact remains that nothing -- not even the miracle that is Skype -- can take the place of meeting with someone face-to-face.   You will learn things about people that you would never otherwise know.  And donors typically appreciate the time and effort you will take to go and see them in person.   Getting those meetings scheduled, however, well…that's another matter entirely!  “I can’t seem to get in front of the right people!”  Andy complained to me.  “And making all those calls is exhausting me, and taking up all of my time.  By the time I am done filling up just one day, I’m toast.” That’s why what I am about to share with you is pure, solid gold.  You should immediately print this blog out and use it to execute a strategy that will fill up your donor visit days more quickly with less effort than ever before.  And I’ve searche ...

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Your Direct Mail Check List

Great direct mail will still get great results.  But before you bang out a letter and get the printer on the phone, consider a few essentials that could mean the difference between success and failure. Put A Stamp On It The more personalized your direct mail piece, the better. No matter what some people may have told you, most donors are turned off by a pre-printed non-profit mailing or bulk permit "indicia" in the upper right hand corner of the envelope.  It's an instant clue that the mail was mass produced and therefore probably will be of little relevance to them.  Many non-profits can't afford first class postage for everything they send, so I recommend the second best thing: The Non-Profit Live Stamp.  Ask your printer or even the local post office about these stamps that cost 5 cents each.  Most non-profits mail at a rate of 17.5 cents. You or your printer purchases the live stamps, affixes them and then when the mail project is delivered to the post office, the rate is calcul ...

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Use 5/15 Reports For Accountability & Tracking Fundraising

Fundraising is a team sport! And leadership is always required to keep a team moving toward its next goal for an annual fund drive, fundraiser or campaign.  Communication is often the key to success, especially since fundraising is likely to be only part of what you are responsible for.  A "5/15 Report" is a great tool for keeping you in touch with your team and to track progress.   What is a 5/15 Report?   The name comes from the style of document we are after here.  We want each report to take its writer no more than 15 minutes to compose and no more than 5 minutes for you to read.  These reports are usually done weekly, but could be done daily in certain circumstances.  This is regular, fast, "hot off the presses" information.  Sort of a snapshot of one area of your organization or one aspect of your fundraising project. What goes into a 5/15 Report? No two 5/15 Reports will be the same. And that's because no two jobs are exactly the same.  The requireme ...

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Building Rapport With Major Donors

After you get past the gated neighborhood, the car that costs more than your college education and the country club membership that rivals your average salary, you find that major donors are just people, too.  They have hopes and dreams. They have fears and frustrations.  And many of them actually need a friend to talk to. Part of what God wants you to do as you seek His will for funding your ministry is to be a friend to some of the people making the largest gifts to the work He has called you to do.  This is the most resisted, maligned and misunderstood aspect of development for Christian non-profits.  Too many of us look at wealthy donors as "cash cows" that need to be milked for funds instead of real, human beings God has put in our paths because He wants to use us in meeting their needs.    Here are three simple tips for relating to people of high net worth: 1. Check your motivation. Get your focus off of the person's wealth and ability to give and focus on God, your prov ...

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The 3-Way Test For Fundraising Offers

Few among us would agree to board a plane not knowing where it will land, what we'll do when we get there, how we'll get back and so forth.  But when we write a letter or go on the air with a "cloudy offer," we're pretty much putting our prospective donors in the same position.   By "offer" we're referring to the exact wording in which you convey your request for a donation and any associated benefits that go with it.  An offer is a special type of ask in fundraising that attempts to engage the donor by offering them something in return.  in its purest form, an offer is an ask plus a premium.  For example: "...Return your gift of any amount by September 1st and we will send you Dr. So-and-So's new book..." But an offer need not be attached to a premium.  It can be as simple as: "Give just $30 a month to sponsor a child, providing them with food, shelter and an education."  Thinking through your strategy to develop just the right offer, one that has the highest chance of ...

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Dos & Don'ts Of Fundraising Events

You thought it sounded like a good idea at the time.  The plan was to get a bunch of people (hopefully people with deep pockets) in a big room all at one time and just ask them for money.  The hall and the caterer were booked. The invitations went out.  And no one RSVP'd. Or, they did agree to come, but your total receipts for the evening barely covered your costs.   If one of these scenarios sounds familiar, you're not alone.  Fundraising events are tricky, but they can be a great way to develop the one thing it will take to really raise big dollars for your organization...Relationships.  You just have to pay attention to a few dos and don'ts. Don't hang your hat on 'em! It's just silly to believe that somehow, a roomful of people you've never met are supposed to magically show up, fall in love with your organization and write you big, fat checks for life.  Fundraising is and will always be about one-on-one relationships, and relationships take time to develop. &nbs ...

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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