Giving is a Social Activity

Think about the last time you gave to an organization, specifically one you haven’t given to before. How did you find out about that organization, and what made you decide to give? There is a good chance you heard about the organization from a friend or family member who asked you to give.


I recently heard more detailed results of the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Generosity Survey. This survey is done every two or three years and it explores the generosity and giving habits of donors in Colorado. A few of the data points stuck out to me because they really demonstrate that giving is a social activity. Here they are:

60% of donors said “I tell my friends and family about the causes I support.”

49% learned about an organization from family or friends before making their first donation.

56% made a donation as a result of an ask from family or friends (compared to only 25% when asked by someone they did not know).

30% donated based on an email from someone they knew.

Wow. These are actual numbers to show how much a personal relationship can improve your chances of successfully securing a donation. People in Colorado who feel great about making donations to charity are likely to share information about that organization with their family and friends.

How can you use this information to help your organization? First, share this with your board members and volunteers. They are already champions of your organization, and they should know how much telling others about the cause they support could influence family and friends to make a gift. Second, track new donations and make your best effort to find out if the gift was made as a result of someone close to your organization, then be sure to thank that person as well as the new donor. Finally, when asking your board members and volunteers to invite family or friends to make a gift or attend an event, make sure they know that a personal conversation is more likely to be successful than an email.

When we actively ask our supporters to talk with their family and friends, and then we make sure they feel appreciated for doing so, we can make sure our list of donors is always growing longer and take full advantage of the social aspect of giving.

Posted in Individual Giving

When Fundraising Just Feels BORING…

When you work for the same organization for a while, sometimes things can get stale. It can start to feel like you have “been there, done that!” How do you keep your fundraising ideas fresh?


Although I have been in fundraising for over 20 years, I am still learning and looking for opportunities to learn. Learning new things and different perspectives helps me to see something I have done before with new eyes. If you need to shake things up a bit and get out of the “same stuff different day” mode, try one of these learning opportunities:

Rocky Mountain Philanthropy Institute
The Association of Fundraising Professionals hosts this quick and affordable conference, coming up quickly on September 8-9, 2016. My favorite part: going up to Breckenridge and getting away from the office, and sessions that are all about fundraising.

CNA Fall Conference
The Colorado Nonprofit Association hosts a conference in Denver every October, and this year it will be Oct. 20-21, 2016. The conference is packed with tons of speakers on every topic. My favorite part: it’s in town so you can sneak away for a day of inspiration.

CausePlanet Book Summaries
If you don’t already subscribe to CausePlanet, you need to check it out. They provide book summaries (think Cliff Notes, but better) about current books that apply to nonprofit leaders. We’re all pressed for time. These summaries help you quickly gather the most important information from the latest thought leaders, so you can stay on top of trends and best practices. My favorite part: it’s the short-cut we’re all looking for.

AFP Coffee Chat
Sometimes you just want to talk to other people who “get it.” I get to do that every month at Coffee Chat, hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. From organic conversations to informal presentations, I can count on a group of Fundraisers coming together to talk about what’s working and what isn’t. My favorite part: the group changes and I always learn something new.

We all have different learning styles. So whether you enjoy a conference with workshops presented by expert speakers, reading books or book summaries in your office, or an informal chat with other professionals (or all of the above) – find what works for you. I promise that when you keep learning, the every day stuff is more interesting.

Posted in Learning Opportunities

Three Keys to Development Success


Many of my clients are looking for greater development success. Together we can develop fundraising strategies and I work with my clients on creating a plan. But real fundamental change and breakthrough results happen when organizations prioritize fundraising as essential.

Two studies were recently done to explore fundraising more deeply. Although they had different goals and asked different questions, they drew basically the same conclusions. The first study, Beyond Fundraising, explored what “Culture of Philanthropy” means to organizations. The second, Fundraising Bright Spots, took a look at organizations that are achieving breakthrough results in individual giving. Here are the three common themes about successful nonprofit fundraising that emerged:

1. Development is not a separate function, it is central to mission work and a core part of the organization’s identity.

2. Development is not a one person job. It’s a shared responsibility that goes way beyond the person with the development job title. Everyone has a part to play.

3. Engaged relationships with donors drive success. Development is not just a transaction of money moving from one place to another; it’s driven by meaningful relationships between staff, board members, and volunteers with donors.

A strategic fundraising plan is important. Fundraising staff support is important. Having an engaged board is important. Just know that true transformational change happens when development seeps into every cell of the organization – every staff member, every board member, every program, and every opportunity to build relationship with donors.

To read the studies for yourself, download the PDF’s here:
Beyond Fundraising
Fundraising Bright Spots

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy