GuideStar Blog

To Take Notes in Meetings with Donors or Not …That Is the Question!

And the answer is ...

In almost every case I think it’s totally fine to take notes. I have taken notes for 35 years, in more than 3,000 meetings with donors. Not in every meeting, but in the vast majority.


How Your Donors Can Help You

Some of the smartest things I do are accidents.

I was planning a trip to visit current and potential donors. I sent out the dates that I was available. Two of the people on the list—a current donor (we’ll call him Carl) and a potential donor (we’ll call him Phillip)—responded at the same time. They both said, “I can meet you at 10:00 on Thursday.”

Rather than re-negotiate the calendar with either of them, I asked each of them if they would be willing to meet together.


What Are “Major Gifts”—and Where Do I Find Them?

When talking with potential clients, I often ask the following questions: “What do you consider a major gift? How many donors contribute at that level?”

The phrase “major gift” perplexes some people. If needed, I might rephrase as follows:

  • What do you consider a big gift from an individual donor?

  • If you skimmed off the top 10 percent of your donors, based on the size of their contributions, what amounts are they giving?

  • When you open the mail (or review your list of online donations), what size gift inspires you to do your happy dance?


How Campaigns Hurt Major Gifts

Fundraisers disagree about the value of capital campaigns. Today’s post argues they do more harm than good in the long run. Tomorrow’s post will offer a different point of view.

Someone is going to be upset when they read this.

Reason: they’ve invested their entire career in campaigns, and when someone like me comes along and says that most campaigns hurt major gifts and are long-term failures, it’s a sword thrust into their soul.

But I must say it. Here’s why ...


The Three Most Powerful Words in Fundraising

What gets in the way of you and your board raising more money?

For a fundraising trainer like me, this is a key question. Any sort of fundraising education must address the barriers that make it difficult for people to participate.

This list of common barriers won’t surprise you. Perhaps you’ve experienced them yourself.


5 Fundraising Tips—Straight from Donors and Grantmakers

Major gift fundraising—whether from individuals, foundations, or companies—is an alchemy of art and science, with the skill of relationship building at its core. In today’s shifting philanthropy landscape, the distance between donors and fundraisers is shrinking, with venture approaches on the rise and competition at its fiercest. So how can fundraisers adapt to this context?


Top 5 Things to Do Before Asking for a Meeting

While being prepared for the solicitation meeting itself is important, preparation has to start before you reach out to set up the meeting. There are two reasons for this.


Why We Ask in Person

Let’s be honest—most people don’t like asking for money. In fact most of us don’t like asking for anything. So, why do we not only solicit individuals for charitable gifts, but do it in person?


What Your Donors Really Want: The Simple Truth

Sometimes we spend so much time and effort and energy trying to get all of the systems and materials and research and processes of fundraising right that we plumb forget the most important things.

The Simple Truth about Donors

Your donors—no matter who they are or how much they give—want two things.


Don’t Be Afraid of Your Mega Donors

In my years working with nonprofit and development directors, I’ve noticed a certain underpinning fear of major donors. This is not a monster-under-your-bed fear (or maybe it is for some of us). Rather it’s a reverence, awe, caution, and wariness that permeates the relationship and all interactions with the donors. 

And this makes sense. Your mega donor is literally the epicenter and foundation of charitable giving to your organization. And even I, an advocate of crowdfunding and the power of micro-donations, still realize that the majority of your monetary support will be generated by major givers. 

But sometimes this reverence and fear can lead to unhealthy practices.