Practicing the art of governance as evangelism

Stop the presses on the latest run of board member business cards. There’s a word to add to the title line, and this it is — “evangelist.” If the moniker strikes you as too preachy for a 21st century audience, think again. The suggestion is ripped from the pages of the May 2015 Harvard Business […]

Leadership advice worth following

My role with Messiah College’s Master of Arts in Higher Education has expanded recently to half-time, which means I’m thinking a lot these days about leadership, preparing leaders, and what it means to lead. I also serve on the board of a ministry organization that has recently welcomed a new CEO. And beginning in a […]

Changing boats, patching leaks, and fundraising

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” — Warren Buffet This sage advice from billionaire investor Warren Buffet fits the situation of fundraisers as surely as the business folks to whom the wise man’s comment was […]

Strategic planning is not a compound word

At a recent gathering of ministry CEOs and board members, eight of the nine organizations were identified as having just completed or in the process of developing a strategic plan. In truth, there wasn’t much that was innovative, risky, or out of the ordinary in what was reported. And to be fair, those organizational leaders […]

Have you heard the one about the CEO and fundraising?

“Can a nonprofit succeed at raising money without the CEO’s involvement?” So asked a beleaguered development officer in a one-person fundraising shop with multi-staff-sized goals. And he’s not the first (or likely last) of his kind to pose the question. Within small to mid-size nonprofits, understaffed development operations are the norm. Fundraisers are desperate for […]

The problem with giving as a proxy for board effectiveness

If you’re a board member, you’ve likely heard what I consider one of the lamest rationales out there for your giving. And if you are a nonprofit CEO, I’m betting you’ve passed along this sorry case for board members’ financial support of the organization. I’m talking about the much ballyhooed link between percentage of board […]

Explaining a change in plans to campaign donors

“When we launched our campaign back in 2010, the staff position included in the goal made sense. But now that we have the money in hand, not so much. We remain committed to the purposes for the position, but we see there’s a better way to get the work done. How do we explain the […]

How many fundraisers does it take to change a world?

“Here’s a development question for you,” wrote a pastor friend from Canada. “ It seems to me as if there has been an explosion of ‘development’ or ‘advancement’ positions in the nonprofit world over the past few years. Perhaps my perception is inaccurate, but if I’m correct, I wonder if this increase is making a […]

How not to annoy donors

One article back, I encouraged fundraisers to see themselves through donors’ eyes. Today, the guys over at The Agitator, a daily must-read for me, picked up the theme with a comment from Claire Axelrad, another blogger and fundraising consultant extraordinaire, as their springboard.  (I love when great minds think alike, especially when those minds agree […]

To see ourselves through donors’ eyes

“I have difficulty warming up to receiving cold calls.”  It’s been a couple of weeks since a reader posted this 9-word comment and I’ve yet to reconcile his response with my hints to fundraisers for taking the shivers out of cold calls. I’m not ready to change the tune I regularly sing to clients about […]