21 Advancement Truths

  1. The success of your ask was determined during the cultivation.
  2. Donors don’t give to institutions, they give through institutions.
  3. And they give through institutions to people they trust.
  4. Doing the fundamentals consistently is “the silver bullet.”
  5. Generous people don’t grow tired of giving, they grow tired of being solicited.
  6. When it is time to ask, be bold — ask for their best possible gift. Those you serve deserve that from you.
  7. You have a case for support only when you can concisely answer the question, “why should anyone care?”
  8. What your donors believe about your institution is far more important than what they know about your institution.
  9. In making your most effective case for support, keep in mind that too many numbers numb, but stories are stored.
  10. If you do not know the other causes your prospect supports and why she supports them, you are not ready to ask.
  11. With only rare exceptions, special events represent the most inefficient and ineffective way to raise money.
  12. If you want money, ask for advice. And if you want advice, ask for money.
  13. It’s not about you #1: Your job is not to strengthen your relationship with the donor.  Your job is to strengthen the donor’s belief in the goodness of your institution’s mission.
  14. It’s not about you #2: If a prospect tells you “no,” it is not a personal rejection.
  15. Engagement isn’t sending out the magazine. True engagement is the process of asking meaningful questions and actively listening to the responses.
  16. A gift officer can have many visits and not be successful. But rarely can a gift officer have only a few visits and be successful.
  17. Performance metrics are not the work, they are only a poor proxy for the work.
  18. Major donors dislike “wish lists.”  Strategic planning is the foundation of successful campaigns.
  19. How you treat donors after they make a commitment says far more about how you value them as people than how you treated them before they committed.
  20. The most robust and helpful prospect research is not done electronically.
  21. Giving is good.


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