Category Archives: Fundraising

Why not you? A lesson for fundraisers from Russell Wilson’s dad.

I was one of the 100 million people who watched the Super Bowl last weekend. I am not a football fan, but it was quite the event so I joined my husband on the couch. My big takeaway was hearing Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, talk about his dad, who used to inspire his son by saying, Why not you, Russell? The idea was that someone is going to get the top grade, Why not you? Someone is going to get the scholarship, Why not you? Someone’s going to be the quarterback for the team that wins the Super Bowl, Why not you?The Case for Support & Why not you?

Apply Mr. Wilson Sr.’s thinking to your cause and your case for support and the narrative sounds like this: Someone is going to get the big donation, Why not your organization? Someone is going to receive the grant, why not your organization? Someone is going to attract the volunteer leaders who have influence in your community, Why not you? Someone is going to develop that case for support that will lead the team to success, Why not you? Continue reading

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Tips on how to message a fundraising gala

Tips on how to message a fundraising galaWith gala season around the corner, I am re-publishing a post from last year on how to message a gala. 

The other day, a client asked me for tips on how to message a gala. Since we are approaching gala season, I thought I’d share my reply here with you.

Every gala is different. So instead of giving you advice and specifics that may not be useful for your organization, I will share my approach.

Gala messaging is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about expressing an already strategically, thought-through case for support to a specific group of individuals.

I keep the message real by developing it with real people in mind, Continue reading

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Donors not getting it?

Are you frustrated by donors who don’t give to the degree you think they could or should or who just don’t seem to get it?

In the post Are you trying to improve your donors? blogger Jeff Brooks says that it is the organization that needs to improve, not the donors. He writes: Case for Support_Donors not getting it?

They (donors) have no responsibility whatsoever to get onto our wavelength. It’s our responsibility to win them over.

Complaining about your donors will do your cause no good. Continue reading

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How are you saying thank you?

I’ve noticed something about what makes a thank you message stick in the heart of this case for support writer and donor. Let me explain.

I participated in a strategic planning session awhile back. The facilitator, a super smart woman, had made a donation to the charity that was in planning mode. She reported back that the organization had promptly followed up with a tax receipt and a thank you email. Check. Check. Very nice.Saying thanks: Case for Support

Some organizations have a policy that anyone who makes a donation of $250 or more gets a phone call from their relationship manager. If the gift is large enough the phone call comes from the executive director or a board member.

These are good strategies.

As a donor, I have received phone calls from charities. At the end of some calls I feel terrific about being invested in the organization’s work. The exchange feels authentic and sincere. But with other organizations I can almost picture the relationship manager crossing my name of a list at the end of the call. Check. The strategy was executed, but not a lot of connection was made.

The thing I’ve noticed about giving and receiving thanks has to do with putting purpose before plan. Continue reading

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Look out for hope

I was browsing through a store at the Munich airport, waiting for a flight to Sweden, when a series of postcards caught my eye.  One in particular stood out. The illustration was stunningly simple and directed my eye to its message: look out for hope. The card is by the German artist, illustrator Julia Schonlau and is posted here with her approval. I bought it, brought it home and placed it on my beside table. There, from its perch, it has been speaking to me, quietly overtime infiltrating my thoughts. I thought I’d share some of the things it has been saying to me… www.thecaseforsupport.com

  • “…meditate on “hope”.”  I realized that I tend to use the word hope rather loosely. I’ll often say to someone, I hope you have a great day. But hope is much bigger than a wish. Clinical psychologist Rick Snyder, at the University of Kansas, has developed what he calls hope theory.  The theory suggests that hope is behind a position our minds take toward circumstances that alters our outlook and our action. What we hope for has a lot to do with what becomes.  Continue reading
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Why?

When my daughter was young, I didn’t appreciate the seemingly endless why questions she asked. But today I appreciate the why. It is integral to making an inspiring case for a cause.

Yesterday I watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on How great leaders inspire action. The talk is 18 minutes long and well worth the investment of time. I encourage you to watch it. If you are in a rush, fast forward to the 15 minute mark; that’s where he brings in a nonprofit example.

Continue reading

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Seven ways to strengthen your fall direct mail appeal.

I could always count on my mother in law to be the first to announce that fall is in the air. At times the proclamation came when spring had just slipped into summer. But it is mid August, and for many nonprofits that means the direct mail package is about to go to print. Before you sign on the dotted line of the press proof, iStock_000021567117Smallask: What, precisely, do I want my reader to think, feel and do in response to this package?

Jot down your answer on a piece of paper. Then ask a friend or colleague (preferably someone from outside your organization) to read the package and ask her what it makes her think, feel and want to do.

If the appeal gets less than an A+, strengthen it by being more intentional about the content (thinking of the three points above) and by: Continue reading

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How to write an inspiring case for a less-than inspiring vision.

Case for SupportThe other day, I read an interesting piece on the Donor Dreams Blog titled, Don’t set the  bar too high for your next fundraising appeal. This post resonated with me, as I am working on a project that involves defining and articulating a vision for a client organization. We are walking a fine line between creating a vision that has donor appeal while at the same time is reachable and do-able for the organization. Continue reading

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The best advice I ever received

I follow Erik Anderson’s  Donor Dreams Blog. This week he posted a piece with the same headline as the one you see above. He explained that a colleague of his writes regularly under this headline. He must have received lots of good advice. I like the idea of sharing good advice. So here I am with the first of what may be many posts under the headline: The best advice I ever received. Funny coming from one who polices the use of superlatives.case for support

The best advice I ever received (part I) is this: Present a vision the donor can be excited about.

I was working on a planning study, interviewing a financially-successful young to middle-age man. I asked him about my client’s vision and if he found it compelling. As it turned out, the vision did not resonate with him, but what he said next resonated with me. Continue reading

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Are you scripting your speeches?

To script or not to script is a topic that inevitably surfaces this time of year, as nonprofits move into the gala and event season. My experience is that the opinions on either side of this coin are firm. But it’s not a matter of either or. There is an and to consider.speech_Case for Support

But first, what, precisely, is at issue? The issue is about control. Proponents of the scripted speech want to maintain control of the message and its length, and for good reason. Continue reading

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