Browsing the archives for the Advancement category

Best Practices or Best Thinking?

As an advancement professional, you see the hackneyed phrase, “best practices” a ton.  Professional development opportunities tout the teaching of “best practices” for this advancement function or that one.  Members of your team may spend time benchmarking other shops to identify, “best practices.”  Perhaps even you have sought or are seeking the silver-bulleted “best practices” […]

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The Believability Factor in Campaigns

What makes a campaign successful? “It depends,” is a well-established, go-to answer for consultants, but that doesn’t mean it is an altogether unhelpful response.  From leadership, to donor engagement, to giving history at the institution, successful campaigns do, in fact, “depend,” on numerous important variables. One variable, though not often discussed, is exceptionally predictive of […]

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Causes vs. Symptoms

I’ve been running now for about 10 years (actually, I jog, but that sounds 1980ish).  Over those years, I’ve only experienced two injuries that were painful enough to sideline me this activity that I’ve grown to love.  One of those injuries occurred about 8 years ago.  It was a sharp pain on the outer side […]

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3 Ways Social Technologies Are Failing Development Efforts

I’ll start this post by professing that I am neither a technological luddite nor hypocrite.  I value and gladly utilize technology – in all its forms.  Heck, I’m communicating with you via a distributed, social technology that makes our large world wonderfully and magically small.  Technologies, especially social technologies, such as social media, wikis, blogs, […]

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The Gift and The Giver

It’s easy to focus on “the gift.”  What is the amount we are seeking?  For what purpose?  Over what period of time?  We talk about the gift in strategy sessions, when we ask for it, and when we receive it – especially when we receive one of significance!  We write proposals that answer the questions […]

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3 Questions To Help Avoid “Ask Fever”

Within the U.S. space industry, the term “go fever,” refers to the general idea that engineering teams sometimes rush to get a project completed or a program implemented without taking the appropriate time to assess problems or concerns.  “Go fever,” was identified as a contributing factor in both the Space Shuttle Challenger (1986) and Space […]

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Who Are You Making Comfortable?

We’ve all been in a social setting – perhaps a theatre prior to a performance – when a voice comes over the public address system and calmly states, “In the unlikely event of an emergency. . .”  Or, if you board a airplane, you will certainly hear the phrase, “In the unlikely event of a […]

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What They Will Do

Far too often I witness strategy discussions about major gift donors and prospects that leap too quickly to observations focused on what a particular donor “will do,” in terms of his or her gift amount. The conversation plays out something like this.  The Associate Vice President (or whoever supervises the Major Gift Officer) asks in […]

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“Whatever Makes You Feel Good”

In all the years I’ve flown through Denver airport, I can’t recall ever having my shoes shined there. Earlier this week, though, I had a long layover and realized that my scruffy dress shoes were in desperate need of help.    As I waited my turn at one of the chairs, I looked around but […]

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Why You Are Here Matters Most

Over the past year, I’ve read two thought-provoking articles – “Donation Inflation,” by Toni Coleman in CASE Currents and “Unplanned Obsolescence,” by Paul Clolery in the NonProfit Times – which focus on different topics but speak to a similar root concern for the future of philanthropy in the U.S. In “Donation Inflation,” Coleman highlights the […]

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