Fundraising

Year-end Appeals

Why are my year-end appeals so unsuccessful? Many books address how to write a compelling appeal that brings in money. I think the single largest mistake I see, and I see it often, is the “we” problem. The letter starts off by stating the great work your organization does. It might include in the letter somewhere that money is needed to stop a critical problem from becoming even more widespread. What often follows is a set of bullet points telling…

Exploring the Form 990

The ethics of foundations has been in the news a lot this political season. I recently saw a post from a friend on Facebook that a particular family foundation was behaving not only unethically but perhaps even illegally. Serving on a family foundation myself, such accusations cut to the core of the problems of some such foundations. In some cases, perhaps a wealthy benefactor set up a foundation to pay family members a generous salary for their “work.” Youi don’t…

You Must Ask for Money to Get Money

You’re given the name of a prospect, and you’re told she is likely to give to your cause, particularly because of a project you’re recently started. Many years ago, the advice was “always start with a letter of introduction” to set up a potential time to meet. Too often, that letter winds up in the circular file. And email can quickly and easily be ignored or deleted. You need to pick up the phone and setup an in-person meeting. My…

Believe in your cause

Maybe that seems self-evident, you should believe in your cause. I have too often seen cases where folks join a board to pad their resume, or because they want to return something to the community in which they live. If those are the reasons you are serving, it is likely your organization is struggling. You MUST believe in your cause and the importance of the organization which you serve. What does that mean? Your organization is changing the world for…