All too often I work with executive directors and CEO’s that say, “I’m not a fundraiser.”  In most cases, this is the farthest thing from the truth.

That’s because fundraising is a knowledge issue, not a talent issue. 

I’m convinced that if you have risen to the top of your organization, you have what it takes to be a great fundraiser.  You are good with people, you know your mission and work like no one else.  And you have passion for your cause.  These ingredients combined with just a little bit of coaching and confidence equals fundraising success.

Consider these examples from our clients . . .

  • A Head Master of a local private school needs to raise $3M to build a new school building. He just secured a $400,000 donation!
  • A founder of an organization that serves homeless moms and kids needs to raise $5M to build a new resource center. She secures a $1,000,000 gift in her very first donor meeting.
  • A local director of a youth services organization needs to raise $10,000 by the end of the month to fund his programs. He achieves his goal, first by receiving a $5,000 lead gift from a donor that had never given a gift to his organization.

None of these clients were confident about their fundraising ability.  But they are good at their job, and I taught them to be good at fundraising.  Want to learn what they now know?  Get in touch!


It is hard to believe the success one of our clients is having raising money via small group, major donor gatherings. They call them “major donor summits.”

Just in recent months they have raised over $500,000 by bringing together select groups of current major and mid-level donors to hear more about their mission and to be given a very clear opportunity to make a significant donation.

The ingredients we came up with for these events are actually very simple and something you can implement:

  1. Find a geographic location where you have a number of major and mid-level donors residing
  2. Invite them to a one or two-day gathering at a desirable location or venue
  3. Include your leadership team at the event
  4. Share with them the big-picture vision and goals you hope to accomplish with their financial help
  5. Give them a campaign goal that they can collectively fund
  6. Deliver a clear and simple fundraising offer
  7. Include a giving deadline, ideally by the end of the event

These basic ingredients have proven to be a successful combination. I challenge you to come up with your version of a major donor summit so that you can raise more money and develop deeper connections with your donors!


“Thank you!”

This simple phrase is the glue that keeps your donors engaged in giving and wanting to give more over time.

When you thank your donors promptly and emotionally for their gift, they feel appreciated and start to develop a deeper connection with your organization, mission and beneficiaries you serve.

Knowing that saying thank you is so important, I challenge you to review your thank you letters and receipt packages to see if they do an absolutely great job thanking your donor for her generosity.  Consider these things when evaluating our thank you process and content.

  1. Are you thanking your donors promptly? The goal is to thank them within 72 hours after having received their gift.
  2. Are you thanking your donors emotionally? Can your donor feel your gratitude coming through the letter?
  3. Are you telling your donor what is going to happen because they gave a gift? Or are you just ‘acknowledging’ their gift and using stuffy “CFO language” or marketing-speak?
  4. Do your receipt packages include a response device and return envelope? Really successful fundraising organizations raise more money by making it as easy as possible for their donors to make their next gift.
    1. Note that they aren’t Asking for a gift, but they include a reply card and envelope because they know that some donors will be moved to send in another gift.

Do you have room for improvement when it comes to thanking your donors?  Do all you can before summer ends to improve this important part of the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat rhythm.


Are you a Board Member or Executive Director?  Would you like FREE Training on how to know whether your organization’s fundraising is effective — and what to do if it isn’t?

As an E.D. or Board Member, we know you want to understand what a great fundraising program looks like — and how you can govern, support and evaluate your staff’s efforts.

Here are the details on the training that’s been created just for you! Jim Shapiro and Steven Screen, two nationally-known experts, will teach you what you need to know to evaluate your fundraising, to know what to focus on, and what you need to know to really make a difference

In honor of International Day of Charity, Jim and Steven are hosting a FREE Training specifically for Executive Directors and Board Members:

  • WHEN: September 8th, 2016; 9:30am-12pm
  • WHERE: 415 Westlake (415 Westlake Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109)

You’ll learn:

  • The two performance metrics you should focus on: net revenue and retention rate
  • The three things your organization needs to be doing, especially with Major Donors
  • How Boards can govern their organization’s fundraising but still let the fundraisers do their jobs
  • What successful donor-focused fundraising looks and sounds like

Learn more here and register Today!


If you are a Board Member at a not-for-profit, most likely your mind starts swimming when you think about the fundraising needs of your organization.

You become anxious as you think about asking your friends for money.  You doubt your ability to come up with a great way to raise money. You don’t really know how to judge your organization’s fundraising, you just know whether you like it or not.

What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way?  That donor development work cannot only be fun, but fruitful?

Over the years, I have found that the easiest and most impactful way for you to become involved with fundraising as a board member is also usually very rewarding as well—thanking donors for their recent gift.

Thanking donors promptly and emotionally after their gift is essential to retaining them. As a board member, you can actively participate in this important work by writing thank you notes, making thank you calls or visiting with donors face-to-face to thank them for their gift. You will quickly see first-hand how donor development can be fun and fruitful!


Have you ever wanted to know how to evaluate – and improve — your organization’s fundraising?

The Better Fundraising Co. is offering this FREE seminar to help Board Members and Executive Directors evaluate and improve your organization’s fundraising.  September 8, 9:30am-12:00pm, downtown Seattle.

Most Board members and E.D.s aren’t professional fundraisers, and have to rely on gut instinct and a small handful of experiences to govern and evaluate their organization’s fundraising.  This session will teach you what you need to know to be as helpful as possible!

What you’ll learn:

  • The two performance metrics you should focus on: net revenue and retention rate
  • The three things your organization needs to be doing, especially with Major Donors
  • How Boards can govern their organization’s fundraising but still let the fundraisers do their jobs
  • What successful donor-focused fundraising looks and sounds like

Jim Shapiro and Steven Screen will present what’s working and what’s not working in fundraising today – with real-life examples you can learn from – so that you can be more informed, help your organization, and help raise more money.  In honor of International Day of Charity, they’d love to help you and your Board be more effective at governing your organization’s fundraising – for free!

Sign up today!


All too often I hear of organizations taking their major donors out of their direct mail stream.  They don’t want to overwhelm their major donors with appeal letters and newsletters.

I applaud their desire to protect their major donors from too many communications, but I believe there needs to be a balance.

When you pull your major donors from your direct communications, your donors will give less because they don’t feel like they have good connection with your organization.  I strongly recommend that you send your newsletter to your major donors.

If your donors are going to write you another large donation, they need to be Reported to.  (In other words, they need to be told what their previous gift accomplished.)  And the primary purpose of your newsletter is to do just that; Report back to your donors what was accomplished because they gave a gift.

Feel free to upgrade the way the newsletter is delivered to your majors.  Give it a personal touch by hand-addressing the envelope.  One of our clients has great success by putting their newsletter in a large envelope (so they don’t have to fold it), hand-addressing the envelope, and sending it to their majors.

Whatever you do, make sure your major donors are hearing from you regularly.  If you don’t have the manpower to be personally in touch with them often, you should absolutely be including them in your mailings – especially your newsletter!


Have you ever heard of the fundraising “summer slump”?  It’s real and happening right now across North America.

Most (but not all) organizations experience a significant dip in their fundraising revenue during the summer months.  It happens because their donors are busy with summer vacations and the breaks in their normal rhythms.

If your cause or organization doesn’t have a natural reason to fundraise during the summer, this could be a great time of year to be Reporting back to your major donors on the impact their previous gift is having on your beneficiaries.

So take the time this summer to visit with your major donors and Report back to them the amazing things that have happened because they gave you a gift earlier in the year.

And if you are unable to meet fact-to-face with your major donors, then send them a text that includes a picture of a beneficiary they helped.  Or take a short video of a beneficiary or perhaps the building the donor helped build.  Set aside time in your day to call your donors and give them a quick update.

By whatever means possible, Report back to your donors during the summer months.  Why?  Because now is a great time to close the loop with each of your donors, earn their trust, so that they will be ready to give another gift during the last few months of the year.


Video: Raise More Money This Fall!

by Jim Shapiro on July 14, 2016

Now is the time to start developing your plans to raise more money this fall!  To help you get started we put together this 5-minute video just for you.

Fall is the start of your busy fundraising season. In this video we tackle the most important, big picture questions that fundraising friends like you have about how to raise more money.  The goal of the video is to help you upgrade your fundraising so that you raise more money this fall and into the end of the calendar year.

It’s just 5-minutes long, so take time right now to upgrade your fundraising.

Click here to watch the video right now!


What if the answer to one simple question could help you secure a million dollar donation?  Would you ask the question?  You bet you would!

Your job as a Major Gifts Officer is to figure out what that question is for each of your donors.

Great major gift officers have learned to invest more time asking their donors questions than talking about themselves or their organization.  You should ask each of your donors about their giving and their goals.  Once you truly understand what’s important to your donors you’ll be able to ask the right questions of them.

One simple question can result in you securing a major gift.  So start asking questions and learn all that you can about your donors and what makes them tick.  Then you’ll be able to ask them to meet the right need at the right price.

So, are you asking your donors to give gifts hoping that they will say yes?  Or are you asking each donor lots of questions to find out what they love – and then asking them for one specific gift that you know they’ll love to be asked for?

Bonus Thought: The knowledge you gain by asking your donors questions about their giving and goals helps you align your organization’s growth goals and strategies with your donors’ values.  Because if you are trying to grow in ways that your donors don’t love, you’re going to have a much harder time growing.