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What’s the Real Cost of a Fundraising Opportunity?

Every fundraising opportunity has three categories of costs. One is obvious, the second is obscured by the opportunity itself, and the third is investment inherent in the structure of an organization. The first is always considered when deciding whether to pursue an opportunity. It is a direct cost. The other two are indirect. One of the indirect costs forms an either-or question and is often neither seen nor considered. The other is a question of capability. The three categories of opportunity costs are….read the full article

Blog Entries

Holiday Giving: Make It Bigger and Better Next Year

As we enter the final days of the Holiday giving season, a question occurs to me. It’s one all nonprofit development officers who expected this season to yield increased giving over last should ask themselves: Was I prepared? Come January it’s tempting to sit back and rest after a hectic three months. Maybe even pat yourself on the back a bit. That’s especially true if year-over-year you did better. But making dollar amount raised, number of gifts, and average size of a gift the only measures of success or failure is a mistake. Doing your job well in the final quarter can boost donations and cover up what you failed to do in the first three. When I ask were your prepared, I’m not asking about your readiness to receive an influx of donations. Nor whether you created and executed well-crafted appeals. I’m asking what you did during the first ten months of the year to enlarge your base of potential donors. How did the number of qualified prospects with which you began the final two months of this year compare with last year? Was the number substantially stronger? Was it ten, twenty, thirty percent…higher? I suggest you look at those numbers. Don’t kid yourself. Be ruthless in your analysis of what constitutes qualified. Then deconstruct everything you did to make this year’s number substantially larger than last year’s. I bet you’re going to be disappointed in your efforts. January is a great time to develop plans for making your organization better prepared to optimize the next holiday giving season. Then February through October carryout those plans. Make it...

Marcus Haile Joins Raise-Funds as a Content Contributor

It’s been more than a year and a half since Tony Poderis retired from his role as the chief content producer for Raise-Funds.com. In that time Dave Patterson has continued to manage the site and produce content on his own. I am happy to announce that is no longer the case. Marcus Haile, chief development officer at the Jacksonville Florida Cathedral Arts Project, has joined the Raise-Funds.com team as a content contributor and has written his first article—Accountability & Job Performance for Nonprofit Fundraisers.  In the article Marcus shares his thoughts and experiences about how development professionals are and should be held accountable by their bosses. I urge you to read this thoughtful examination of a subject that faces all in the business of raising funds for nonprofits. And, please, share your thoughts, concerns, and questions in the comments section following the article. Welcome aboard...

Landing Pages for Small-Gifts Campaigns

Email and social media are absolutely great tools for soliciting and achieving small gifts. That’s especially true for mini campaigns trying to raise money for tightly defined specific purposes. You develop a strategy for taking the campaign to the digital marketplace—usually email and various social media—then create a landing page that those tools will send prospects to. Then you sit back and wait to count the money, right? Not so fast there. What about that landing page and its role in the process of solicitation, giving, and fulfillment? That landing page can make or break your campaign. Read the new article Building a Small-Gifts Campaign Landing Page to learn important dos and don’ts of online mini campaigns and small...

What Causes Do Celebrities Support

What philanthropic causes do men and women support? Are they the same? Is there a coherent difference? Designer David McCandless includes in his book Knowledge Is Beautiful an infographic that answers the question for celebrities. Now we all know that the famous are different, but how different? Does McCandless’ graphic reflect what the rest of us support? My first inclination was to say yes. But then I realized something wasn’t there. Can you see what’s missing from the infographic? Hint: it’s really big. In 2013 the Lilly School of Philanthropy of Indiana University Indianapolis conducted research in the US that found, “Donations to religious congregations represent about 40 percent of household giving nationally. This is giving for primarily religious activity or spiritual development.” Lilly’s report additionally pointed out that the 40 percent is over and above the one-third of US giving that goes to religiously identified nonprofits. Do you see anything else missing?...

Tribalize for Donor Commitment and Loyalty

One of the reasons I like reading predictions about how things that seem to be changing will impact our lives is that they make me think. While reading TrendWatching.com’s 10 Trends for 2015, I got to thinking about how some of what they were predicting might translate to the nonprofit world. The result was a question: What if a nonprofit could position itself as a brand with which people could link their identity? Think Apple and the lines every time a new iPhone or iPad is announced. Those people are members of a tribe, and they are fiercely loyal to that Apple tribe. They’ll part with extra money for the opportunity to proudly wear the Apple badge. They proselytize for Apple. If you’re a member of the Apple tribe or have a friend who is, you know what I mean. What would nonprofits give for that kind of commitment on the part of donors? If only a nonprofit could make its donors feel about it the way iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners feel about Apple. And Apple’s not the only brand that has tribalized itself. It’s hands down the best, but other companies are succeeding in creating a similar sense of belonging. A couple of years ago I started using Airbnb. It wasn’t long before I was telling friends and acquaintances in no uncertain terms that they should jump onboard the lodgings brokerage. I had become a committed proselytizer. Now I start planning my trips with a visit to Airbnb website. Sometimes I even find myself visiting it with no trip on the horizon. Why? As much as it’s...

New Article on Single Women as Donors
and How To Reach Them

Check out the article I just posted on why single women are an extremely important segment of a nonprofit’s donor base and why social media should be an important part of your strategy to reach and nurture relationship with them. The infographic below only tells part of the story. Read the article Single Women Fundraising Sweet Spot to get the complete...

Get Out of the Way & Let
the Donor Make the Gift

A friend of mine who owns a business recently told me he had contacted an educational organization about making a $50,000 gift. It was to be his first gift to the organization. Now, this was my friend making the contact, not the educational organization making a solicitation call on him. It was kind of out of the blue. Found money for the educational organizaton. My friend had a couple of conditions, neither of which he was told would present a problem: His gift was to go to support a specific current program of the educational organization chosen by the donor. His gift was not to result in any diminishment of funds to that program from other sources. In other words his gift was to be additional money in support of the program. He wanted to make his gift in support of the specific program he chose, because he believed that program was particularly helpful in creating a pool of potential employees for his company. The head of the educational organization came to visit my friend at his place of business to discuss the gift. You'd think the visit would be to say thanks and make arrangements to receive the money. You'd think the head of the educational organization would be there to stroke my friend and begin to nurture relationship for the additional gifts that could come in the future. You'd be wrong. The head of the educational organization tried to talk my friend into making the gift as part of a current funding drive to support an entirely different project. A project my friend made it clear he...

Do You Really “Know” Your
Corporate Donors And Prospects?

We should–and usually do–work hard to make our best possible case for support to corporations. We of course want them to know as much as possible about us. But what we know about them is just as likely to determine the outcome of a request. I was recently thinking about the extent to which we need to know our corporate prospects in order to make the assessments, ratings, and evaluations that should precede requests for funding. That brought to mind the annual fund-raising conferences for our geographic area that I would attend each year. The conferences usually included three or four contributions managers from large corporations and banks. A common theme for the contributions managers was to cite their most important requirements in order for attracting their attention. Universally these stewards of corporate funding hit the same top three awareness areas and asked that contribution seekers be able to answer the same specific questions: Know Who We Are Have you read our corporation's annual report? Have you looked at our website? What do we make and/or sell? Who are our customers? How many employees do we have? Where are we located? Who are our corporate officers, and are any of them involved in your organization? Understand Our Concerns  What are our policies regarding endowments, capital campaigns, annual operating support, giving to projects and services, and United Way supported agencies? If you wish to "double dip" and obtain our support for a specific campaign, do you know whether it is our policy and practice to support a special fundraising event or project for an organization already receiving donations? Does everyone...

Fund-Raiser Wanted But First
You Have To Be an Expert in..

I once was not even remotely considered as a candidate for a fund-raising position with a hospital. Even though my fund-raising credentials were strong, and I came well recommended, I lacked one crucial aspect the hospital wanted. I did not even get an interview because the hospital's call for resumes required that anyone applying for the job have at least five years experience in the "medical sector." That hospital made a mistake too many organizations make too often. It assumed that previous knowledge of and experience in the field of expertise in which it operates, were of preeminent importance for someone to be a successful development officer for them. Later, I was hired by The Cleveland Orchestra as its development director. Good thing the Orchestra didn't have similar experience requirements to the hospital because I didn't know one note of music from another and had been in a concert hall only twice in my life. Twenty years later as I was completing my last day at the Orchestra, I still did not know one note of music from another. Nothing to brag about to be sure, but I do take pride in two decades of successful fund-raising in the "musical sector."  I did not need a background in arts and culture to understand and believe in the Orchestra's mission. When it came to fund-raising, the Orchestra's management was far more enlightened than that hospital's had been. It made no difference at all to the Orchestra where I came from. They wanted someone with the knowledge and ability to carry out the fund-raising process. And let's face it fund-raising is...

An Example of Bad Email Damaging Relationship

I recently received an email request purporting to come from the president of the alumni association of a large private university. It asked me to call the vendor who was preparing a new alumni directory so that I could verify my information. What a scam! The email did not come from the president of the alumni association, even though his signature had been scanned and pasted at the bottom. It came from a generic address at the vendor publishing the directory. This true sent-from address was hidden behind a false sent-from that identified the sender as the ” _____ University Office of Alumni Relations.” Of course all you had to do to see this was to hover your cursor over the identified sent-from or try to reply. If the vendor had truly wanted to simply verify my information, it would have done so by using a linked form that did not require me to make a phone call. The phone call process was neither user friendly nor user respectful. My time is valuable. By getting me to initiate a phone call, the vendor was setting itself up to make a sales call without worry about violating do-not-call rules. Shame on you vendor, and SHAME on you university for taking part in this scam. I have no doubt that getting me to initiate a call that could be used to sell me a directory was the true purpose of the email. But even if I’m wrong, the damage has still been done by the inept process the vendor used. In this instance, what I believe is what counts, and that...


Raise-Funds is dedicated to providing information that can help nonprofit organizations survive and grow. Content falls into three main areas:

  • Articles written by experienced nonprofit managers and fundraisers.
  • A blog calling attention to whatever catches the fancy of site managers and contributors.
  • Curated content drawn from online and other sources.

Raise-Funds was founded by Tony Poderis. It’s main contributors have been Tony Poderis, Dave Patterson, and Joyce Braun Poderis. The site is managed by Dave Patterson with generous assistance from Zuri Group.

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