Over 83 weeks (yes, eighty-three!), you will read some lessons I’ve learned in my richly rewarding 40-year journey in fundraising. There are bits and pieces about our profession and what skills and attributes make a great fundraiser. I also write about what motivates a person to make a gift to your organization.

There is some wisdom, perhaps.  Years of experience, for certain. A great deal for you to think about.  And suggestions for you to put into practice.

Forty years! You may well ask whether what I write about is relevant for the mind, heart, and spirit of today’s men and women. You bet it is!

What follows are some thoughts I have about fundraising and philanthropy for today’s organizations. The material is relevant. Certainly thought-provoking.  And, I hope, a bit helpful.

blue rule

Thought #20 - Cultivation is Important


Cultivation is important. I’m a great believer in regular, structured, and organized visits. You can’t sell a vision in 45 minutes. Sometimes you have to marry the girl! But keep in mind that some people are willing to give now. Don’t wait.

Thought #19 - Ask for a Specific Amount


When you ask, request a specific amount. Don’t use a range. (I would like you to consider a gift of $10 to $20 thousand, the floor becomes the ceiling.)

Thought #18 - Follow the BOY rule


Because Of You. Let your donors know how important they are— that you couldn’t have done it without them. “Because of you . . .”

Thought #17 - Attrition is Your Enemy


It is something that should be measured monthly. If it is around 40%, you should be concerned. Over 50% to 60%, you need to worry about it. Over 60%, you have a serious problem.

Thought #16 - Pointers for Professionals


Here are some pointers I feel are important for a professional to practice. Not just now and then. Always.

Thought #15 - Five Levels of Giving


  1. Those who give without even being asked.
  2. Those who need to be asked— but when asked will make their gift.
  3. Those who need to be persuaded— and once persuaded will make a gift.
  4. Those who need to be persuaded— they may or may not make a gift.
  5. The inert fifth— they will never make a gift. There is no philanthropic intent.

Spend 80% of your time and effort cultivating the top three categories.

Thought #14 - Get to Know Your Prospect


Keep in mind that a prospect is a real person. They don’t want you to think they have a sign across their chest that says, “I give money away.” They have love, happiness, joy. They have grief, problems, and concerns. Get to know them.

Thought #13 - Strategy for Talking to Couples


A factor you can be pretty certain of is that husbands and wives discuss their philanthropy. That means that if you are going for a large personal gift, it would be the right strategy to talk to the husband and wife together.