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Gail Perry

Recent Posts by Gail Perry:

Power Questions Your Major Gift Donor Will Love

Here’s a natural, friendly and much more successful approach to major gift fundraising.

I’m showing you how to develop a warm, easy relationships with your major gift prospects. Relationships where they feel heard and understood. A relationship that builds trust and credibility.

When you take a donor-centered approach to a major gift, you let the donor lead the way. She feels entirely in control. She never feels “presented” to or pushed.

And she’s much more likely to end up with a generous major gift coming from her heart—and she’s with you for the long term.


Is This the Reason You Aren’t Raising Major Gifts?

All nonprofits want to excel at major gifts fundraising. Or don’t they?

In my 30 years in major gifts fundraising, I have seen familiar roadblocks get thrown up to keep money from flowing into the organization.


How to Establish 100% Board Giving

Achieving 100% board giving can be a challenge for some nonprofits.


Top 10 Year-End Fundraising Tips

It’s year-end fundraising time!

Here are my top year-end fundraising tips to help you raise the most money possible this year-end!


How to Get Your Whole Organization Behind Major Gift Fundraising

What would be possible if your whole organization supported a full-scale major gift fundraising program?

  • You’d be able to raise tons of money to fund important projects and urgent expenses at your organization.
  • You’d have a cadre of loyal, happy engaged major donors.
  • Your board members would actually participate and open doors.

Strengthen Your Fundraising Appeal with the “MPI” Formula

Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog


How Fundraising Is Turning into "Fund Marketing"

 

Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog

Are you using the new marketing and communications tools to support your fundraising?

There's now an amazing array of techniques, formats, and strategies out there for us.

New and Innovative Tools

We have more ways than ever to tell our story, connect with our donors, keep them engaged with our cause, and ask for money!

Not only that, but we have hard data about what types of communications our donors respond to.

We know what makes a potential donor open an envelope or not. What makes her read an e-mail newsletter, or not. Or want to give again, or not.

We know exactly:

  • What donors react to on Web pages.
  • How to turn a newsletter from one that makes $1,400 into one that makes $42,000.
  • What types of images and pictures work best.
  • How to design and lay out a direct mail appeal for max impact.
  • What fonts work best.
  • How to shape a call to action.

We know a lot more about messaging too these days. We know:

  • How to start off a direct mail appeal letter.
  • What to say on our website donation page, and what not to say.
  • How to frame an appeal for maximum impact on a donor.

We know that "real words" are more engaging than "jargon." Why say "impact our programs" when you can say "help children learn to read?"

What do all these strategies and tactics have in common?

These strategies merge the "fundraising" function and the "marketing/communications" function.

Every day, fundraisers worry about which message to choose; how to shape the message, what words to use, how many words to use, which words and phrases to avoid.

All of this could be included in a communications function called "copywriting."

So, my friend, if you want to be successful as a fundraiser, you need to also have a working knowledge of messaging, copywriting, good design, and layout. You might even need a smattering knowledge of photography and videography.

You could say that these skills fall into the communications and marketing arena.

So if you want to be successful at fundraising, you gotta master some marketing skills.

There's Plenty of BAD Marketing!

Last week when I asserted that marketing and branding can kill fundraising, some of my smart nonprofit communications friends took issue.

Let me make myself clear: BAD marketing and RIGID branding can subvert fundraising.

What do bad marketing and rigid branding look like?

Communications that:

  • Are organization focused, not donor focused (staff profiles for example)
  • Are beautifully designed but difficult to read
  • Too wordy
  • Promote board members or the CEO instead of donors and your work
  • Talk about the gala instead of the kids we've helped this year
  • Full of statistics and data and short on pictures
  • Too formal and lofty
  • Use jargon like "programs," "services," and "underserved"
  • Are all about the branding, the look and the right colors ... and thereby convey nothing
  • Are completely missing the all-important "Call to Action"

Let's not waste our time and energy with bad marketing.

If you're fortunate enough to have a marketing and/or communications staff with skilled professionals, their expertise can often help you.

One nonprofit marketing professional I know says that so often, fundraisers "ruin" letters and other copy by inserting jargon, adding "flowery," unnecessary words, or making changes upon changes. Don't be one of those folks, OK?

But all fundraisers need to learn these skills!

Here's How to Learn to Do Fund Marketing Correctly

Follow the smartest nonprofit communications people out there.

There are plenty of experts out there who have mastered fund marketing. You should follow them all AND study their stuff. Take their classes too!

Take the time to learn how to shape and deliver a message well.

Ask if your marketing and communications colleagues follow any of the experts listed above. That's a great way to open a line of communication.

See if you can focus your organization's full resources and skill sets to create the most toward powerful coordinated message around WHY our organization's work is important.

I'll guarantee that you'll raise a lot more money.

The preceding is a guest post by Gail Perry, an international fundraising consultant, coach, speaker, blogger, and thought leader. You can find her at her popular Fired-Up Fundraising blog. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 25 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts and support. Her book, Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, has been called the "gold standard guide" to building successful fundraising boards.


Top 10 Major Donor Fundraising Trends for 2014-2015

Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog


What You Need to Know about Giving USA 2014

Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog


Stuck with Impossible Goals? Here's Help!

Reprinted from Fired-Up Fundraising

It happens all the time.

Smart nonprofit staffers come to me and share their secret: the goals they are assigned to accomplish are completely unrealistic.

They are in a situation where their operational and performance goals are more than anyone can possibly accomplish. Some of the goals they have been given are not even carefully vetted or thought out.

Extra tasks to do are simply dumped on staff without any priority or thought.

These staffers are in serious "overwhelm." Work is a drudge. And life is no fun either.

Have you ever been in this situation? It's not pretty.

I can't imagine anything more awful than being stuck with goals that are impossible to achieve.

A Happy Story of a Nonprofit That Got Organized

Here's a happy story of how smart planning is getting everyone on the same page, protecting the staff, and even sharpening up expectations of the board.

My friend Dan Bruer, CEO of the Frankie Lemmon School (for children with developmental disabilities, here in Raleigh, N.C.) and his board are the heroes of this story.

He and his board have just created an ambitious new strategic plan.

Now that the strategic plan is completed, he and the board are at it again—they're crafting a smart business plan to achieve the strategic goals.

I love this approach.

It's not often that the board is involved in helping to think though exactly HOW to implement the new goals.

The beauty of involving them is that they'll all be on the same page if there are any new investments in staff or programs. Yay!

"Having the board thinking through HOW we would reach these new goals is absolutely essential," Dan said.

"It never put the staff in the place of defending themselves or staff salaries to the board.

"Because it's the board members themselves who are helping us decide how much staffing we'll need to reach these new, aggressive goals."

Here's a blow by blow of what happened:

1.The board and leadership developed a lofty new strategic plan.

Then they handed it to the staff.

So far, so good.

Our CEO Dan started wondering—"How do I implement this with my current staff and funding strategies? Is this realistic?"

He knew that the school was not staffed up to do all this.

Check.

So what did he do?

2. Dan asked for more help from his board.

He went back to his board and said, "I need your business acumen. Help me develop a business model and smart staffing structure that will help us reach these wonderful goals."

Check.

3. Together they looked carefully at the staffing—what are they focusing on all day?

Now Dan and the board are working together to line up staff work responsibilities with the "strategic priorities" that the board had identified.

And everything will be tied right back to the overall strategic plan—its objectives and goals.

So every staffer's work will be based on one of the objectives of the new strategic plan.

And they are making sure that they are building in accountability—so all the staff will clearly know what to focus on and what they will be evaluated for. YES!

What's more—any new staff hired will be people to focus on the strategic priorities.

Check.

Now, here's where it gets interesting:

4. The board members decided what kind of board they needed in order to execute the strategic plan.

The board decided on a profile for new board members ... and they are focusing on philanthropy.

The new profile was clear: largest donors; broadest networks; committed to advancing the mission.

As Dan says, "We wanted to grow. So we decided to speak the truth about what our goal is for the board."

Because the plan was for a big expansion of programming and services, they knew it would take money. So they were all OK with saying "It IS about the money."

Now this really is a dream come true for many nonprofits.

5. The board members decided to hold themselves accountable.

So they created a board scorecard with only 5 points, that tracked the key activities they needed board members to do.

Dan says that the board members are now all over those items on the scorecard—and are making sure they are getting them done.

It's the old cliché for both board and staff—what gets reported—gets done!

Check, check, and check again!

What made all this work?

  1. First Dan had the guts to go to his board and ask for help.
  2. He had business folks on the board who could take an idea and help him make it into a hard plan.
  3. The board members were willing to hold themselves accountable.
  4. They took a firm business-like approach to the planning process—one that made everybody a winner!

Bottom Line

Your plan can protect you. If you are confronted with impossible tasks, pull out the plan and say:

"Here's our plan that we have all agreed upon. I can do this OR this but I can't do BOTH this and this. Can you please help me set my priorities?"

Good luck, and may the smart planning forces go with you!

Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, Fired-Up Fundraising
© 2014, Fired-Up Fundraising. Reprinted with permission.

Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, is an international fundraising consultant, trend spotter, speaker, trainer, and thought leader. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 25 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts and support. She is the author of the Fired-Up Fundraising blog and newsletter. Her book, Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, has been called the "gold standard guide to building successful fundraising boards."


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