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GuideStar Blog

Barbara O'Reilly

Recent Posts by Barbara O'Reilly:

Does the Nonprofit Sector Need Fundraising Physical Therapy?

Muscle memory. It helps us move and function.

A few years ago when I strained my hamstring while running, it was excruciating. Only months of dedicated physical therapy re-trained me for healing and strength. My body had to re-learn not to overemphasize and over-rely on just one set of muscles.

It’s about behavior patterns. And I believe the nonprofit sector has a muscle memory problem.

That’s especially true in light of the Giving USA report released in June.


Fundraising Lessons from Freddie Mercury & Queen

Far reach from rockstar superstardom to fundraising glory? Not really! 

Watching Bohemian Rhapsody, I couldn’t help but notice a few standout truths and values from their rise to fame. They apply as much to hardworking fundraisers, dedicated to making the world a better place, as to anyone else reaching for success.


6 Fundraising Questions to Ask Yourself Today

I recently had the honor to be part of a panel discussion releasing a new report on the state of fundraising in the U.S.


2019 Fundraising Trends—And How to Take Advantage of Them

I view January and February as a test run of sorts, before we really embark on a new year and new resolutions. This may feel especially true as we’re still figuring out what happened in 2018. Last year we saw lower year-end fundraising results. We saw a decline in the number of donors who give in the lower to middle end of the giving range. And whether those developments have anything to do with changes to the tax law remains a question.


2018 Was Another Wild Ride. Can We Unbuckle Our Seatbelts Yet?

It’s hard to believe 2018 will soon be in the rear-view mirror.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday, when we greeted January with the new Tax Bill of 2017 in effect?

We all wondered if we’d see more of the fundraising volatility we experienced from late 2016 through 2017. We all wished for a less challenging, more stable year for funding our nonprofit work! But we also worried about how the changes to charitable deductions might affect giving. We hoped for the best, but buckled up tight.


Is Your Year-End Fundraising a Sprint or Part of the Long Game?

As a fundraiser, I’m keenly sensitive to how I act and am treated as a donor. I’ve shared before how last December, I joined the 60 percent of donors who become former donors to the charities they had been supporting. 


Full Tilt Boogie (for Fundraising)

“Full tilt boogie!”

When I was a coxswain on my college rowing team, this was the call my coach taught me to use for “full steam ahead.”

A boat that is fully engaged feels like it’s levitating over the water. It’s exhilarating. But it doesn’t happen without the total coordination of every rower in that boat. To reach the point of “full tilt boogie” I had to gradually build our pace, ensuring that the rowers were in sync, blades hitting the water at the same time, all pulling with the same degree of intensity. Only when it was time did the call go out, and then the rowers gave their all.

As a fundraiser, you’re at the helm for relationship building and sustainability. So think of the year-end fundraising push as your “full tilt boogie”:


Why Don’t Donors Trust Us, & What Can We Do About It?

I once heard a quote that went something like: “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.”

If you’ve ever felt betrayed, this sounds on point. It’s true in life, and it’s true in the nonprofit sector.


Are You Building Relationships Or Collecting Checks?

On December 31, 2017, I became a statistic.

I joined the 60 percent of donors who become former donors to the charities they had been supporting.