Discovering Great Donors

by Richard Tollefson 

Narrow and arbitrary. These terms are best reserved for the Southwest’s meandering streams and deep-cut canyons — not a nonprofit’s donor prospect strategy. And yet many organizations think in narrow and arbitrary terms when it comes to prospect research, screening and qualification. Some nonprofits incorrectly assume wealthy donors are the only donors. They also limit… [More]

Storytelling as a Tool 

by Jan Halpin and Julie Iacobelli 

Good storytelling isn’t reserved simply for books and movies and campfires. “For board members uncomfortable with fundraising, stories are one of the easiest ways to share the power of the work the nonprofit does,” says Phoenix-based Andrea Beaulieu, who offers speaking, story performance, and presentation skills coaching and training. “Story sharing is less intimidating than… [More]

It’s Not Just Checkbook Giving Anymore

by Richard Tollefson 

In the past, the most common way for individual donors to support their favorite nonprofit was to open their checkbooks once per year in response to the annual fundraising campaign. They wrote checks from discretionary income, and, on occasion, donated stock or other appreciated assets. They still do, but today they have a wider array… [More]

The Good News Continues

by Richard Tollefson

Charitable giving by American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations increased 12.2 percent over two years in 2014 and 2015 (the largest two-year increase since 2003-2005). Today’s Americans, in fact, give one billion dollars per day in their efforts to assist others, accounting for $373.25 billion in 2015. According to the Giving USA 2016 report, total… [More]

Overhead and the Nonprofit

by Richard Tollefson

Today’s nonprofits often find themselves looking over their shoulders. “They worry about the scrutiny or debate that may rage over their spending while, at the same time, understanding the critical need to invest in their enterprises in order to fulfill their missions,” says Robert Ashcraft, Ph.D., executive director of ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and… [More]

Better Branding = Fundraising Impact

by Richard Tollefson

Two simple questions lie at the heart of a nonprofit’s branding and marketing efforts: Who? and Why? Who is the nonprofit helping, and why? “Organizations often forget what they’re really about,” says Russ Haan, founder of Phoenix-based Charles Russell, a visual storytelling consultancy. Knowing that answer, he says, is the essence of a strong brand… [More]

Who Manages the Endowment? 

by Deborah Whitehurst

Though they are only one part of a nonprofit’s cash equation, endowments provide a predictable source of income and may be a lifeline during economic downturns. They allow nonprofit entities to produce income as well as growth. But who should manage the assets in an endowment? It might seem a single executive or executives seated… [More]

Powerful Strategic Planning 

by Deborah Whitehurst 

Annually — or every three to five years — nonprofit board members gear up for strategic planning retreats, assessing the organization’s performance over the previous year or tackling long-term planning. Some view strategic planning as nothing more than a label: Yes. We have a strategic plan. Check. Others see such planning as a waste of… [More]

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

by Peter Smits and Richard Tollefson

Ask five different executives sitting on nonprofit boards to define “culture of philanthropy,” and five different definitions will rise to the top. Board members may also differ in their opinion of the role they should play in building a culture of engagement and philanthropy within their nonprofit. Clarity on these two points is essential, however;… [More]

The Value of Values-Based Hiring

by Brian Mohr and Richard Tollefson 

It happens all the time: A candidate with impeccable credentials steps up to a nonprofit leadership position only to step down within a year or so. But why? And why so often? A number of reasons could be at play — expectations aren’t being met (by employee or employer), co-workers’ work styles clash, the workload… [More]