GuideStar Blog

Claire Axelrad

Recent Posts by Claire Axelrad:

The Donor Pyramid and Marketing Funnel Have Changed

Fundraisers used to focus on the pyramid.

Bring small donors in at the bottom. Move ’em up, incrementally, to the top. What happened was the donors at the bottom didn’t get much attention, leading to a situation where today 79 percent of first-time donors flow right out of your base. In other words, the pyramid’s base is more like a river than a solid block of bricks. Not very strong. A pretty wobbly foundation on which to base the life of your nonprofit.


4 Strategies to Overcome Fear of Fundraising

Most people are deathly afraid of fundraising. They’d rather undergo root canal.

Fear of fundraising comes from four basic places in my experience:

  1. Fear of begging for money.
  2. Fear of looking stupid.
  3. Fear of rejection.
  4. Fear of public speaking.

Let’s address these one by one.


Staff Annual Fundraising Campaign? An Open Letter to Vu Le of Nonprofit AF

The jury is out on whether a nonprofit should ask its employees to donate to it. Yesterday’s post argues against it. Today’s post advocates for it.

Dear Vu,

I found your recently penned article titled “Why nonprofit staff should not be asked to donate to the organizations they work for” thought-provoking and see it touched a nerve, engendering a lot of commentary, pro and con. I found the article and the commentary stimulating, hence this open letter.

I respectfully disagree with you, while applauding your taking a stand and beginning this discussion.


Are You Mindlessly Employing “Best Fundraising Practices?”

I’m starting to get annoyed.

I’m getting too many formulaic fundraising emails.

Maybe it’s partly my fault?

You see, I know I write all the time about “best practices.” And some of these annoying emails are employing these practices―just not in a “best” way, as that word is defined.


5 Strategies to Determine If Your Nonprofit Is Keeping Up

Part 1 of this two-part series, “How to Sustain Nonprofit Relevancy and Fundraising Effectiveness,” suggested five questions to ask in order to determine whether your nonprofit is simply resting on its laurels when it comes to your fundraising strategies. If this is the case, you’ll have trouble moving forward and pushing beyond the status quo to achieve excellence.


How to Sustain Nonprofit Relevancy and Fundraising Effectiveness

The late Jerold Panas*, fundraising guru and author of a bunch of books (two of which, Asking and The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards, I frequently use with boards to inspire philanthropy), left us with a gem of a final article published in the GuideStar Blog: Nurturing Your Potential as a Fundraiser.


Overcome Nonprofit Board Fundraising Resistance through Storytelling, Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part series we discussed your board members’ role in fundraising, and how to help them embrace it more fully. It begins with taking away their fears and showing them how to reframe the task from “yucky chore” to “gift of a compelling tale.”

The next step is figuring out the types of tales your board members (and you!) can tell and/or elicit from the prospects they approach for gifts.


Overcome Nonprofit Board Fundraising Resistance through Storytelling, Part 1

Is your board resisting fundraising? Are you having a difficult time motivating them to be a part of this essential activity at your organization?

One way to help your board discover the joy of fundraising is to show them it’s really about telling and hearing stories, not asking!


*Every* Nonprofit Leader Is a Fundraiser and Marketer

I recently happened upon a thought-provoking article: “Note to All Creatives: Marketing is Your Job,” adapted from Ryan Holiday’s Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts. The piece was written with an audience of authors, artists, and start-up entrepreneurs in mind. I firmly believe it applies in spades to nonprofits.

Holiday calls his book a meditation on how to create work that does more than just disappear.


Fundraising in the Era of the New Tax Law

Tax benefits are icing on the philanthropy cake. What to do when the icing is melting?

First, the good news.

The sky is not falling.