Strategies for Success contain strategies for major gift fundraising, capital campaigns, nonprofit management, fundraising-related research, educational opportunities, prospect research, the latest fundraising products and tips for honing your professional fundraising skills.

An e-mail bulletin written by seasoned fundraising consultants, Strategies for Success contains strategies for major gift fundraising, capital campaigns, nonprofit management, fundraising-related research, educational opportunities, prospect research, the latest fundraising products and tips for honing your professional fundraising skills.

Engage Your Board

Having an engaged board can generate tremendous success and better outcomes to help meet a nonprofit’s fundraising goals. Being intentional about board identification, training and participation may help bolster morale, improve retention and attract new members of affluence and influence. Just as important, being on some boards can be boring, but being part of an engaged board…

Timing Is Everything

Timing Is Everything A year ago, the future scope of the pandemic was just coming into focus, and many nonprofit organizations were just starting to consider how this might impact their work, especially as it pertained to fundraising. Tough choices were being made about whether or not to move ahead with plans for major gift…

A Donor-Centered Approach to Pledge Fulfillment

We know your nonprofit needs the money today, but what if you could get a much larger gift by offering donors the option to pledge their gifts over time? An effective strategy to grow your major gift donors, who often become your most loyal donors, is to recognize them for their total gift committed. “But…

Spring Clean the Donor Database

Spring Clean the Donor Database Regular maintenance of donor data is a never-ending chore, but well worth the effort. The lost-opportunity costs of bad data is just too much to pay. On average, nearly a third of a nonprofit’s prospect and donor data becomes inaccurate annually due to address changes, job changes, new phone lines,…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The familiar opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities sounds strikingly like the challenges and choices fundraisers faced during COVID. “Is this the right time to begin a campaign, expand an existing campaign or try new strategies? Should we wait for…

Plan Ahead to Follow-Up

Plan Ahead to Follow-Up With the holidays ahead and the New Year just around the corner, now is a great time to plan out how you will follow up on your year-end appeal. Have a donor-data system in place before responses begin to arrive. Create a hierarchy of follow-up action steps for various giving levels:…

Adjust Your Methods, not Your Principles

Adjust Your Methods, not Your Principles Seasoned fundraisers understand and follow the principles of raising money: identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation and appreciation. This five-step process has long been the standard for successful fundraising. As you develop campaign strategies, the following are tips to keep in mind. Build strategies around all five principles Communication changes over…

The Value of a Grant Consultant – Past, Present and Future

The Value of a Grant Consultant: Past, Present and Future A grant consultant can help nonprofits manage their current grants, uncover grants from foundations that may have fallen off the radar and provide leads for the future. Present Foundations give grants to organizations they trust. In return, the foundation expects an organization to fulfill the…

Don’t Cancel Your Fundraising Event… Reimagine It

Don’t Cancel Your Fundraising Event… Reimagine It As fall approaches, nonprofits are considering how they should handle the loss of fundraising income from an event that will be postponed or canceled. Before notifying donors of a cancellation, consider hosting a virtual event. They’re more cost effective, easier to manage, and nonprofits can engage with attendees…

The Four C’s of Making a Case

The Four C’s of Making a Case Whether a nonprofit is a long-held treasure or a diamond in the rough, making a case for support demands the same attention to detail. Consider the four C’s of diamonds as you develop your case: Color Diamonds come in virtually every color. The most well known are transparent,…

Stop. Look. Listen.

Stop. Look. Listen. Fundraisers have faced new challenges with COVID-19, but with challenges come opportunities. The seriousness of what we have gone through together can give fundraisers fresh eyes, attuned empathy and more creativity. Let’s retain whatever insights we can to help donors achieve their goals of making a difference while helping nonprofits advance their…

How Are You Doing?

How Are You Doing? In this new world in which we find ourselves – one with simultaneously more and fewer distractions – we have each other’s attention. We’re taking a little more time during phone calls and virtual meetings to check in with each other: “How are you doing?” How’s your family?” and “How’s the…

Leverage the Lull

Leverage the Lull Research conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, “Exposing Worry’s Deceit: Percentage of Untrue Worries in Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” (Behavior Journal, 17 July 2019) found that, on average, 91.4% of worries among participants never happened. Many other studies support this line of research. Clearly, this does not diminish…

Vision is the Engine of Philanthropy

Vision is the Engine of Philanthropy Vision is perhaps the most powerful asset we have in appealing to donors. If your vision reflects a forward-moving, solutions-based approach, your cause can be supported and sustained. Nonprofit leaders and professional staff are responsible for creating, communicating and facilitating a strong vision for everyone associated with the organization…

Time Is the Most Valuable Commodity

Time Is the Most Valuable Commodity It has been said that you can know a person’s character by how they spend their time and money. Calendars and checkbooks tell a story. This holds true for philanthropy as well. Especially among fundraising professionals, it is important to allocate our time intentionally and appropriately. Here are some…

The Right Year to Raise More Money

The Right Year to Raise More Money The beginning of the year is the perfect time to reflect, assess and look ahead. How will you improve your fundraising practices and raise more money this year? Use these tips to get the year started right: Start with the right outlook Fundraisers can make all the difference…

The Power of Philanthropy

The Power of Philanthropy™ Hartsook is dedicated to helping nonprofits increase their philanthropic support. Our goal is to help organizations expand their missions, and we consider ourselves fortunate to work with thousands of volunteers, donors and nonprofits as, together, we unleash the Power of Philanthropy. Consider utilizing the following three strategies to unleash the Power…

Why Writing Is Important to Fundraising

Why Writing Is Important to Fundraising Author and blogger Pat Bertram (bertramsblog.com) was asked to speak on the topic: Why Is Writing Important? Particularly in this age of emails and texts, writing is essential to saying what we mean and being clearly understood. A key to communication In fundraising, writing is key to communicating with…

Mind Your Mission

Mind Your Mission How well is your mission known and understood? Are your donors aware everything your nonprofit accomplishes?  How do you know if your answers to these questions are perceptions or reality? Without knowing for sure, you will have difficulty reaching your fullest fundraising potential. Here are tips on how to ask the right…

Well-Chosen Campaign Committees Are Essential for Success

Well-Chosen Campaign Committees Are Essential for Success Campaign committees are critical for campaign success. If committees aren’t working well, the campaign will be at risk. Like trying to pilot a boat without pulling the anchor in, poorly functioning committees will weigh you down, hold you back and burn out your motor. Don’t wait to discover…

Making a Case for Endowment

Making a Case for Endowment Conventional wisdom says it is harder to make a case for endowment than for capital. Therefore, some nonprofits are reticent to include endowment in their fundraising goals, because &quot… no one wants to give money to create or build an endowment.” But is it true that no one wants to…

End the Year with Appreciation

End the Year with Appreciation One of the best forms of donor cultivation is showing appreciation; and one of the best times to show appreciation is at the end of the year when our thoughts naturally turn to thankfulness and giving. The best forms of appreciation are unique, creative and authentic. Here are some tips…

Cross the Finish Line

Cross the Finish Line There is no harder time in a campaign than the last six months – that time when you are striving to meet and exceed your goals and demonstrate that you have delivered on your promises. All this, while you are encouraging broad-based community support and media attention! While this can be…

Use Social Media to Grow Philanthropy

Use Social Media to Grow Philanthropy In the last few years, social media usage has increased rapidly to more than 2.77 billion social media users worldwide. This number is estimated to increase to more than 3 billion by 2021. statista.com So why should this matter to your nonprofit? Individuals account for most charitable giving in…

The Dog Days of Summer

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” Celia Thaxter, American author and poet (June, 1835 – August, 1894) The Dog Days of Summer The dog days of summer refer to the hottest season in the Northern Hemisphere. Named after the Dog Star, Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major (the Greater Dog), it is…

The Art of Fundraising

The Art of Fundraising Imagine trying to reproduce Vincent van Gogh’s post-impressionist masterpiece, The Starry Night, with its bold colors, whirling clouds and shining stars. It would be a formidable task, if not impossible, even for a gifted artist. Now imagine trying to attempt this feat without a lot of experience. Intuitively, we know the…

Working with Your Grant Consultant for Campaign Success

Working with Your Grant Consultant for Campaign Success When working on a fundraising or capital campaign, don’t overlook the value that a grant consultant can provide – from identifying prospects to delivering a polished proposal to crafting reports on campaign progress. Identifying prospects Identifying prospects is the job of everyone working on the campaign, but…

Team. Work.

Team. Work. Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Henry Ford Henry Ford pioneered the assembly line. Toyota fine-tuned the methods of production. Today, companies use next-level variations of Lean Thinking (James Womack and Daniel Jones) to give customers the greatest value with the least amount of waste. Before…

The Art of the Apology

The Art of the Apology Despite our best efforts, we all make mistakes. Of course, we want to make as few as possible, but there will be misunderstandings in fundraising. Especially when it comes to donor relationships, it is important to make things right – quickly and carefully. While there is no formula for the…

Regaining Campaign Momentum

Regaining Campaign Momentum Slowed. Stalled. Stuck. These are dreaded words for any major gift campaign. All campaigns will have ebbs and flows, but when things start to stagnate, it’s easy to lose the motivation needed to push forward. Here are some tips to regain confidence, build momentum and finish well: Map out your plan It’s…

Fundraising Costs – Donor Acquisition vs. Renewal

Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook Fundraising Costs: Donor Acquisition vs. Renewal When considering the value of fundraising costs, it is wise to compare the cost of donor renewal to that of donor acquisition. Donor acquisition will often cost 10 to 20 times that of renewals. One of the biggest reasons securing new donors is so…

Increase Visibility with Press Releases

Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook Increase Visibility with Press Releases When writing press releases, be as specific as possible. Media outlets will dig through press releases to develop their own articles, so you want to include interesting details and answer any questions readers may be asking themselves about your organization and its activities. A few…

Marketing Strategies to Support Your Fundraising

Marketing Strategies to Support Your Fundraising The perfect time to refine and broadcast your organization’s message is prior to embarking on a campaign. Consider this: What do donors and the general public know about your organization? It may not be as much as you think, and what they do think may not be accurate. This…

Leadership is the Greatest Predictor of Fundraising Success

Leadership Is the Greatest Predictor of Fundraising Success Fundraising success is not guaranteed. It is earned. The greatest predicator is not the age of the institution. It is not the size of the development department. The greatest predictor of fundraising success is leadership. Leaders move beyond the status quo and cast a bold vision. They…

Lessons of a Life Well Lived: A Tribute to Henry Bloch

Lessons of a Life Well Lived: A Tribute to Henry Bloch The passing of Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry W. Bloch represents an inestimable loss. His humor, acumen and generosity were exemplary, and his work, Seven Lessons for Entrepreneurs, remains a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone eager to learn how to live one’s…

The Power of Philanthropy

The Power of Philanthropy™ “Give your life to something that will outlive you.” I received this priceless piece of wisdom early in my career from professional Scouter and Independence Plan for Neighborhood Council Founder Dick Hettrick. His advice has grounded my fundraising philosophy for decades. “Most people waste their time pursuing things other people have…

Building a Donation Page That Generates a Great Return

Building a Donation Page That Generates a Great Return Is your organization’s website easy to navigate? Is there a giving link featured prominently on the home page? Hopefully, both are true. If not, start with the basics. Then, consider these next steps for leveraging your website to generate support for the mission: Does your donation…

Is Procrastination Hurting Your Fundraising?

Is Procrastination Hurting Your Fundraising? Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you should do today.” Of course, this is sound advice, and it is especially true when it comes to fundraising. You suspect there’s a problem. What are you waiting for? For example, have you noticed the same prospect names on your…

Leadership in Philanthropy

Leadership in Philanthropy In his best-selling book, Good to Great, Jim Collins underscored this lesson: “You need the right people in the right seats on the bus, and let them decide where to drive it.” Red Auerbach, long-time president of the Boston Celtics, said, “How you select people is more important than how you manage…

Scrub. Sort. Standardize.

Scrub. Sort. Standardize. Have you ever made a call to a major donor who had spoken to the Executive Director about a gift the previous week? Have you ever sent out an annual appeal and had a significant number of letters returned in the mail? Have you ever called on a prospect, asked about the…

When is the Right Time for a Major Gift Campaign?

When is the Right Time for a Major Gift Campaign? In our work with thousands of nonprofits, one of the questions we are often asked is this: “How do you know when it’s the right time for a major gift campaign?” The simple answer is: “If the nonprofit needs money, it’s the right time to…

Time to Declutter Your Database

Time to Declutter Your Database It’s never too early to get your fundraising house in order for the year. As inspiration, consider the popular new show: Tidying Up With Marie Kondo where Kondo encourages people to remove anything that does not “spark joy” and rid their lives of clutter and the associated burdens. For nonprofits,…

Strategies for Success: Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive A popular song from 1944 shared this timeless advice: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with mister in-between!” Sung by Bing Crosby in the ’40s, Perry Como in the ’50s, Ella Fitzgerald in ’60s, and with covers in every decade following, the message stands the test of time. For…

Strategies for Success: Major Gifts Are Transformational, not Transactional

Major Gifts Are Transformational, not Transactional One of Hartsook’s fundraising tenets, coined by its founder Bob Hartsook, is: “No one wants to give money away, but donors do want to make a positive difference in the lives of others or in the life of their community.” A donor’s philanthropy is not a transaction that ends…

Strategies for Success: Overcoming Obstacles to Raising Major Gifts

Overcoming Obstacles to Raising Major Gifts It is human nature to gravitate to those tasks where we feel skilled and confident and to avoid those which are more unfamiliar. So it is with many fundraisers and major gift fundraising. They can imagine raising many small gifts, but they have a harder time turning their attention…

Strategies for Success: Are You Building a Culture of Philanthropy?

Are You Building a Culture of Philanthropy? Professional fundraisers know where the buck stops. However, in order to raise the most money possible, every member of the staff should understand the role they play in growing philanthropy. The value and mindset of philanthropy needs to permeate the organization’s culture, beginning with gratitude. Having a culture…

Strategies for Success: Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast There is a “predictable” randomness to moving a fundraising project from soup to nuts. Randomness… because issues pop up unexpectedly. Predictable… because they’re the same recurring issues. It’s just human nature. Here are three tips to reducing predictable randomness, which can be applied to all-things-project-management: Measure twice, cut once.…

Strategies for Success: Creating Versus Waiting for Opportunities

Creating Versus Waiting for Opportunities Too many fundraisers wait for opportunity to knock at their door. They assume that if they are fulfilling their mission, donors will hear about the great work they are doing and will want to be supportive. That can happen, but most of the time we need to be the ones…

Strategies for Success: The Art of Administrating a Nationwide Campaign

The Art of Administrating a Nationwide Campaign Creating and sustaining a philanthropic culture takes a lot of time and hard work. It takes even more deliberation and intentionality when a nonprofit’s prospective donors and campaign volunteers live in different states. Here are some tips on how to navigate this challenge successfully: Divide and conquer There…

Strategies for Success: Grow Philanthropy Before It Is Needed

Grow Philanthropy Before It Is Needed Nonprofit leaders and board members carry the responsibility for an organization’s financial oversight. In fact, financial support is an expectation of board membership, since foundations and prospective donors will often ask if a nonprofit has 100-percent board member funding participation: “If the leaders aren’t on board, why should others…

Strategies for Success: Fundraising Destination Fundamentals

Fundraising Destination Fundamentals How is your organization doing? Do you know where you’re headed? How have you been charting your course? These are the questions you should be asking, early and often, in order to continue to reach your organization’s goals. The concept may be simple, but lack of follow-through has proven to be the…

Strategies for Success: The Future of Major Gifts and Estate Pledges is Now

The Future of Major Gifts and Estate Pledges is Now Heavy reliance on an annual fund or special events mires a nonprofit in an almost hopeless cycle of transactional donor doom. Instead, wake up and smell the benefits of a well-conceived major gifts and estate pledges program. Those who do will succeed well into the…

Strategies for Success: The Team You Want in Your Corner

The Team You Want in Your Corner When it began over thirty years ago, Hartsook’s vision and aspiration to grow a strong and formidable company was never based on breadth of experience alone, but also on a depth of expertise in a multitude of areas. Our firm, our consultants and our clients have benefited from…

Strategies for Success: We All Have a Story to Tell

We All Have a Story to Tell Sharing a clear, consistent, and compelling message – your story – is the most fundamental and cost-effective way to deploy a successful fundraising strategy for your nonprofit. Here are some first steps for developing and sharing your story: Ask board members, clients, and donors what drives them to…

Strategies for Success: The Power of Thank You

The Power of Thank You “Thank you.” These two little words can make or break a campaign. It can mean the difference between receiving a one-time-and-only gift or developing a deeper relationship with a donor who can leave a legacy gift of significance. Too often, a donor who supports a campaign for the first time…

Strategies for Success: Thirty Percent of All Estate Gifts Go Away

Thirty Percent of All Estate Gifts Go Away When the death of a close friend, parent, or spouse is imminent, often individuals close to them are approached by a financial planner who alerts them that their friend or family member has named a nonprofit in the estate. They may ask, innocently enough: “Might it be…

Strategies for Success: Never Underestimate the Importance of Thanking Donors

Never Underestimate the Importance of Thanking Donors Everyone enjoys feeling appreciated, including donors. Effective fundraisers understand the importance of saying “thank you” and expressing sincere appreciation in a variety of ways. Seeing their gifts at work Donors feel a great sense of satisfaction when they see their dollars at work. Arrange for a donor to…

Strategies for Success: Courage

Courage It takes courageous leadership to advance your mission. Successful fundraising is about the mission, not simply about money. Your organization may have a worthy vision, but if you do not have the resources available to step out for those you serve, you will never advance your mission. Courage alone won’t raise money, but without…

Strategies for Success: Take Responsibility

Take Responsibility Impacting change through your nonprofit is a daunting task. There is so much to do, and so many lives are affected. Where do we start? As nonprofit staff or volunteer fundraisers, it is our responsibility to connect those who can make a difference with opportunities to do just that. Here are a few…

Strategies for Success: Don’t Trust Your Nonprofit to a Novice

Don’t Trust Your Nonprofit to a Novice Would you trust your newborn to a nanny who had never cared for an infant? Would you trust your nest egg to a financial planner who had never created a financial plan? Would you want to be patient zero for a newly-minted cardiac surgeon? Not likely. Then why…

Strategies for Success: Lead in Fundraising: Outsource!

Lead in Fundraising: Outsource! The old adage is true: “You need to spend money to make money,” but how often do fundraisers find they don’t have the money necessary to get a fundraising task accomplished? How often do they come up short to pay for professional services or hire a new staff member who could…

Strategies for Success: Just Finished a Campaign? Time to Start Another!

Just Finished a Campaign? Time to Start Another! After wrapping up a campaign, the last thing many nonprofits want to think about is starting a new one. “We’re just so relieved to be finished. Why would we want to launch another campaign so soon?” Glad you asked. The following are three reasons why getting the…

Strategies for Success: Advice to Live By

Advice to Live By After receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Business from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, I had the privilege of sharing with the graduating class three principles that have guided me throughout my career. These “rules to live by” are timeless and priceless. They have served me well, and I…

Strategies for Success: You Might Be the Roadblock if…

You Might Be the Roadblock if… The first of the year is a time many fundraisers want to “get their shop in order.”  While you’re reviewing your processes, staff and final results from last year, you might be wondering why you didn’t raise as much money last year as you hoped. You have a great…

Strategies for Success: Somebody is Making Money… All the Time

Somebody is Making Money… All the Time During every recession and economical setback since the 1970s – three times in the ’80s, another three in the ’90s, and twice since 2000 – Hartsook has continued to raise more money with its clients than any of its competitors. Here’s why: We don’t follow trends. We swim…

Strategies for Success: Help! My Appeal Letter Failed

Help! My Appeal Letter Failed Year-end can be a very stressful time for a fundraiser. Especially, when many nonprofits are relying on the success of a fall direct response appeal, with a disappointing average success rate of two-percent participation. If your appeal has reached two-percent participation, congratulations! The tips below will help you surpass your…

Strategies for Success: Receiving, Giving, and Celebrating

Receiving, Giving, and Celebrating A valuable and timeless tenet of fundraising is: money follows mission. This is particularly true when we adhere to the principles of receiving, giving, and celebrating. Here are three tips for receiving, giving, and celebrating: Receiving We’ve all been taught or understood that it is better to give than to receive,…

Strategies for Success: Maximizing Board Resources in Your Development Plan

Maximizing Board Resources in Your Development Plan One of the most common things board members say is that they do not feel comfortable asking for money. At the same time, one of the most common things organizations say is that their board is not a fundraising board. Both of these represent roadblocks to a nonprofit’s…

Strategies for Success: Hope for the Best, Plan for Contingencies

Hope for the Best, Plan for Contingencies Airline passengers hear the pre-flight safety briefing so often, it can become background noise along with the sound of engines and air vents. If we knew an emergency situation was on the horizon, we would listen up, but we are counting on everything going as planned. Fundraisers can…

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