Advice from the Expert

September 2017

Mistakes to Avoid in Building Your Board – Part 2

By Ken Turpen, CFRE

Every nonprofit executive knows the importance of having a dynamic board and how it can ensure the future of the organization. Beyond the common, but still relevant, acronyms that most use to define which board members to select (i.e., W.W.W. as in board members who provide Work, Wealth, and Wisdom, or T.T.T. as in Time, Talent, and Treasure), there are plenty of mistakes to avoid when selecting individuals to create the perfect board for your nonprofit. I’ve made some of these mistakes and I’ve seen other mistakes made over the years. Don’t you make them! (See Part I in the August column.)

5. Failure to hold out for the right “Talent.” Too often nonprofit executives forget the value in waiting for the right match. Perhaps that’s because we fail to have discussions about what talents are needed. One of the best ways to manage this process is to create a board matrix and to keep track of what type of board members we have and where we would like to go in the future. I think it’s important to make a board as diverse as possible while reflecting the community it serves, all with the understanding that they have to come with the three W’s or T’s. I’ve seen more than a few boards over the years that had a board member with the needed treasure, but had absolutely nothing to contribute to board meetings and was not respected in the community. Most of the time those individuals wound up on the board because they could contribute significantly, but at a huge cost to the board and the nonprofit organization in general. Those individuals were “know-it-alls,” or “bullies,” and other board members were then turned off and tended to lose their passion for board service. My suggestion is to hold out for the right person rather than choosing someone who is available or convenient. Look for individuals who are successful in whatever they’ve done, and hope that their success will rub off on your organization. The best word to describe what you’re looking for is finding the right board member who has “passion” for your organization, not just wealth.

6. Lack of board training. Getting the right people around the table is half the battle; the other half is making sure that they understand what their roles are as board members once they take a seat (literally). In my career, I’ve seen plenty of talented boards (and yes, the members were writing checks to the organization) who thought their role was to “run” or manage the organization. Obviously it’s not. Great boards spend their time collectively visioning for the future of the organization, holding the administrative team accountable to the public, and helping make things happen for long-term success. Boards need to be trained by an outsider who can say the tough things that can’t be said safely by paid staff or the executive director. If you can’t afford to hire someone to train your board, ask another nonprofit executive to help. An hour spent every year on understanding board member roles is time well spent. Every three to four years the board should spend a half-day in board training and building a greater understanding of how they can collectively make a difference.

7. Failure to utilize term limits. Not having term limits is one of the most common mistakes made in nonprofit organizations. Perhaps the reason for this is that few individuals think of this when establishing the bylaws for the newly formed nonprofit. The founders are simply in a mode where they are glad to have anyone to serve at all, and don’t see the long-term implications of rotating board members off the board and finding new ones. Perhaps it’s time to create a bylaws committee of the board and then create some definitions for length of board service. I remember starting out as a nonprofit executive and feeling that if I lost a particular board member it would ruin the board and hurt our organization. While it’s true that an individual board member can have significant impact, it’s also true that bringing in new people with fresh ideas can also have long-lasting positive results. Another positive about rotating individuals off the board is the reinforcement that the organization’s success is never about any one individual; it’s a team approach. Finally, our jobs have tremendous political implications and sometimes having board members rotating off according to policy is a “Godsend” and will do the least amount of damage as opposed to asking them to resign. My recommendation is that board members serve either a two or three-year term, with the option of serving one more term if they have completed a self-evaluation and have successfully fulfilled their responsibilities in the first term. The executive director should administer the self-evaluation and a private interview with the board chair. This should help the board member decide whether another term is appropriate. Remember that once board members have rotated off your board, they can serve again in the future, and sometimes those board members end up being the most valuable.

8. Not preparing for board meetings. Without getting into “mistakes made in creating effective board meetings,” I do want to mention that one of the reasons we have a difficult time finding the right board members is because the word has gotten out that our board meetings are too long and deal with too many operational decisions. Recruiting the right board members means that you are usually looking for very successful individuals to serve who have a huge passion for your work, but are often way too busy to run your organization, nor do they want to. So, spend some significant time planning your meetings, rehearsing the agenda, and getting materials and the agenda prepared and circulated well in advance. When you invest significant time in preparation for these meetings, board members will appreciate how professional their board service is, and how valuable you think their time is. Remember, your board members only have so much time to serve. When I served as a board chair for a private school, I would always have to ask myself, “Would I rather have them sitting around discussing how much to charge for a pint of milk, or out raising funds for scholarships and capital needs?” The answer is simple. Give the board members great things to accomplish and they will rise to the challenge. Give them nothing to do and they’ll be bored to tears and look for ways to help you “run” your program.  

In closing, great nonprofit executives will spend time educating themselves about how to manage boards and recruit the right board members. It’s a beautiful and dynamic process that deserves time and attention. I recommend that you join some nonprofit blogs on boardsmanship so that you can read and contribute to recent thoughts and ideas. Become familiar with BoardSource. They are considered a leader in nonprofit boards and have tons of materials that can help you with your own education and some things for your board members as well. I subscribe to Gail Perry’s free e-newsletter on boards and she always has great ideas. She wrote a wonderful book on boards called “Fired-up Fundraising: Turning Board Passion into Action.” Finally, I will always be indebted to Robert C. “Bob” Andringa for his contribution to my understanding of how to build a successful nonprofit board when I had the opportunity to receive training from him. His book “Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives” is wonderful and full of great resources.  You should read it, too.

Ken Turpen, CFRE, Vice President at Thompson & Associates, has served as a senior foundation executive of five nonprofit organizations during the past 25 years and consultant in secondary and higher education, and healthcare fundraising. He has unique insights into nonprofit boards, CEO leadership, management, community activism and donor perspectives as his career has brought him opportunities to excel in each of these areas.

August 2017

Mistakes to Avoid in Building Your Board – Part 1

By Ken Turpen, CFRE

Every nonprofit executive knows the importance of having a dynamic board and how it can ensure the future of the organization. Beyond the common, but still relevant, acronyms that most use to define which board members to select (i.e., W.W.W. as in board members who provide Work, Wealth, and Wisdom, or T.T.T. as in Time, Talent, and Treasure), there are plenty of mistakes to avoid when selecting individuals to create the perfect board for your nonprofit. I’ve made some of these mistakes and I’ve seen other mistakes made over the years. Don’t you make them!

  1. No job description. When meeting a prospective board member for “the” discussion about their possible membership, I think it’s imperative that you have a board member job description in tow. That’s correct. Carry a physical piece of paper with you that has their job description listed in bullet points. If the board member knows what is expected, in clearly defined language, and right up front, you have a much better chance at having a happy and productive board member than not. Without the job description, they will wonder what exactly is expected of them. The fear we usually have is that we think we will blow them away with the enormity of what we need from them. But the truth is that we need to identify individuals to serve who see our mission as critical to the needs of the community or society, and they feel honored to be asked and deeply respect us for being honest with the expectations that are required for service.
  2. There’s no required sacrifice. This mistake is directly related to “no job description,” but bears definition because it is critical to the recruitment process and ultimately will yield greater results and a happier board member in the long run. It is my thought that when we sacrifice for something we tend to place greater value on the object of sacrifice. So, when we create our job descriptions and start explaining exactly what we need from the prospective board member, we need to be very specific in detailing what those sacrifices mean. Is there an annual gift required? Is there a specific amount that each board member must give? What is the expectation in terms of board attendance? Is there a board attendance policy? These are all questions that need to be answered long before sitting down with your board recruit.
  3. Thinking that giving “time” in board meetings is the best use of time. If you could get 20 hours of time from your board members every year, and had to divide that time between time spent in the board meeting versus getting things done for your organization outside the board meeting, how would you split it up? I contend that you are much better off with a 30/70 split, and that the best use of board member time is outside of board meetings. Board members should be opening doors, making calls, and assisting in donor visits and solicitations. Too often we weigh board members down with marathon board meetings and involve them with day-to-day operational decisions and discussions that could be handled by the executive director. We forget that if we have recruited wisely that we have board members who don’t want to spend long hours in the board room and would rather be doing something meaningful for us.
  4. Selecting board members for wealth and treasure alone. There’s nothing like having board members who have the resources and the commitment to give. But if they are not willing to attend board meetings and don’t have significant respect from the community, then we are much better off treating them as “most honored” major donors than as a trustee of our organization. The fact that they won’t attend board meetings and contribute their “wisdom” to the future of the organization will speak volumes to other board members about their involvement and will have a net negative effect on the nonprofit in general. This might even leave the wealthy non-attending board member with the impression that “they just want my money.” When we have wealthy board members attending and contributing the same wisdom to the future of the organization that brought them wealth, then everyone in the organization (board members included) will have a much higher opinion of the work of the board and the organization’s value to the community.

Ken Turpen, CFRE, Vice President at Thompson & Associates, has served as a senior foundation executive of five nonprofit organizations during the past 25 years and consultant in secondary and higher education, and healthcare fundraising. He has unique insights into nonprofit boards, CEO leadership, management, community activism and donor perspectives as his career has brought him opportunities to excel in each of these areas.

July 2017

The Value of Nonprofit Management Education

By Wesley E. Lindahl, Ph.D.

I’ve dedicated my career to the development of the field of nonprofit management—particularly the field of fundraising. So, I had to step back for a second to fully explore the question—what is the value of nonprofit management education? Today we’re seeing two academic programs emerging that will provide different answers to this question.

First, the undergraduate major in nonprofit management provides students the opportunity to enter a field to start a career with eyes-wide-open. At North Park University, we require all our business majors to take one 2 SH course in nonprofit management. As they start the course, most students are totally confused about nonprofits. “So, you mean you actually get paid to work at a nonprofit?” is one of the typical points of confusion. Our nonprofit majors continue to build their understanding of volunteer management, board development, nonprofit finance, nonprofit marketing, and nonprofit fundraising. They know about careers in the field through internships and they are ready to move into their careers with a fundamental understanding of the how and why of working in mission-based organizations.

Second, the graduate master’s degree program provides adult students with a way to learn–in a year or two of courses — what they would take a life-time to learn from experience. At North Park University, our students repeatedly say they can apply what they experience in the classroom to the work setting the very next day. We provide this practical education that accelerates our students’ growth as they develop into ethical leaders who can influence others and provide service to their clients. That brings us to the last point. A master’s degree specifically in a nonprofit field (e.g., Master of Nonprofit Administration) will help to identify a leader ready to be promoted or given new, higher-level, responsibilities at a different organization. A real value to their career and a real value to the organizations they serve.

Finally, as the academic programs grow and as the research that provides the academic foundations to the field accelerates, we’ll be seeing doctoral level programs in nonprofit management develop as well. The value for these programs will be in their ability to truly develop the profession over the coming years.

Wesley E. Lindahl, Ph.D. is Dean of the School of Business and Nonprofit Management and the Nils Axelson Professor of Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Lindahl has worked as a professional fundraiser for almost eighteen years at Northwestern University, most recently Assistant Dean and Director of Development for the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He volunteered as the Vice President for Resource Development at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) for two years, and has written two books, “Strategic Planning for Fund Raising” (1992) and “Principles of Fundraising: Theory and Practice” (2010). He recently completed his term as the Chair of the Research Council for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and recently served as Book Review Editor of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ). He is on the board of the Swedish American Museum in Chicago and is the Chair of the board of the University Center of Lake County. Lindahl has a Ph.D. in administration and policy studies from Northwestern University; a master of science in mathematics from the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor of arts in mathematics from North Park University.


June 2017

Conference leadership MUST become more overt in their fundraising efforts

By Philip J. Bond

Every Conference president has a vision more grand than just keeping the lights on and paying the bills of the Conference office. They want to see the Gospel proclaimed through successful evangelistic efforts, a robust educational system, and a strong youth and young adult program. Accomplishing this vision, however, takes money. Tithe, of course, covers some, but did King David expect the tithe to cover the costs of building the temple. (1Ch: 29:5) No! He cast his vision among the people and appealed to them to join in. So, if appealing to the people, (fundraising) is Biblical, why do we not see more Conferences doing it?

I often hear: “We just don’t do it that way.” or “Doesn’t tithe cover all the Conference’s expenses?” or “I really don’t know what the Conference actually does.” These responses must be addressed and refuted if the Seventh-day Adventist Church is going to remain a viable platform from which we may proclaim that salvation is available to all and that the Lord is coming back soon. Let’s drill down on each of these.

“We just don’t do it that way.”
Well, why not? As mentioned above King David had no problem appealing to the people. Nor did Moses when he needed items for the wilderness temple. (Ex. 25: 1-7) But, these are capital campaigns, how about other types of appeals. Check out 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 where Paul makes his appeal for his ministry.

“Doesn’t tithe cover the Conference’s expenses?”
There is a set policy on how much of the tithe dollar may be used for specific expenses. In Florida, 34.7% is allocated to pastor/ministerial expenses, 24.2% goes to education, 4.1% goes to youth/children’s ministries, etc. What if the vision (or need) is greater than what these percentages afford? Nowhere to go unless we do a little fundraising!

“I really don’t know what the Conference does.”
Well, all I can say to this is, “Shame on us for not communicating better.” This is a challenge, though. Not everyone reads the Conference magazine. Not everyone attends camp meeting. Every Conference should have a Public Relations Department whose sole job is to communicate the vision and milestones reached of the Conference.

Successful ministries, both Adventist and not, are reaching our members with dynamic fundraising strategies that communicate their vision and their successes. Our Conference’s had better learn from them or we, too, will go the way of the buggy whip – Sayonara!

Philip Bond is the Development and Planned Giving Director for the Florida Conference.  He is married to Sheri and has two sons, Russell and Sam.  Prior to joining the Florida Conference in 2012, Phil served as the Development and Planned Giving Director of Adventist Frontier Missions in Berrien Springs, MI.  Before receiving that call, Phil was a Business and Personal Banker in Greensboro, NC.  Prior to this, he was an owner manager of a family owned travel agency in Macon, Georgia, which is where he grew up.  He graduated from the University of Ga. with a degree in Economics.

May 2017

Do you really have to register in every possible state that an appeal letter might go?

By Thomas Wetmore

The answer is that they probably need to register in the states where they regularly solicit contributions. There are only 3 or 4 states that may not require registration. However, the requirements and registration process vary among the states that do require it.  There are a variety of service providers that provide multistate registration services. A uniform registration statement is accepted by most states. For more info see  

The Multistate Registration and Filing Protocol website – may also be worth exploring since it provides an online multistate registration. This is apparently a pilot project working with the National Association of State Charity Officials, NASCO.  (See I do not know how many states are participating.  A good source of info about the whole topic is through the National Council of Nonprofits.  Their website has a dedicated section to the topic with links to multiple other resources and information.

We typically do not have to worry about this registration, however since churches/religious organizations are exempt in most states. And I believe that most states also exempt educational organizations. Also, solicitation of donations from members does not fall within the definition of charitable solicitation that would trigger registration.  But even these exemptions vary among the states.  Any charity that does not fall into those categories should be mindful of the requirements and register wherever they are actively soliciting donations.  

Additional information: National Council of Nonprofits

Thomas E. Wetmore is an Associate General Counsel for the General Conference and North American Division where he specializes in pension/employee benefits, tax, employment, corporate matters and general nonprofit law. He was appointed Associate General Counsel in 1984.  Mr. Wetmore received his B.S. (Mental Health) from Columbia Union College in 1980 and his J.D. from George Washington University in 1984.  He is a member of the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Florida bars. He is also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the American Bar Association where he has been an active member of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Tax Section since 1989 and is currently co-chair of the Church and Religious Organizations subcommittee.

April 2017


By Alphonce J. Brown, Jr., ACFRE

It is no secret that Americans have always given generously to charitable causes. With philanthropists giving more than $358 million in 2015 to nonprofit organizations, it would be an interesting exercise to closely examine the demographic makeup of the more than 1.3 million donors who contributed to them. For the fundraising practitioner, how we approach each cohort can make the difference between our charity meeting or exceeding its fundraising goal…or not!

In her book, Changing Demographics: Fund Raising in the 1990s, author Judith E. Nichols, CFRE makes a case for developing fundraising strategies that specifically target demographic markets. With limited resources, today’s fundraisers need to do more than simply targeting the upper 10 % – 20% of its major donors to meet its annual fundraising goals or to successfully launch a successful capital campaign.  In fact, whether soliciting unrestricted annual gifts at the base of the giving pyramid or cultivating major donors for a capital campaign atop the pyramid, it is helpful to have as much information as possible to generate the best optimal results.

If asked, most nonprofit professionals would readily admit they tap their consistent core donors far too often for programs and services with critical financial need.  The professional fundraiser also would speak soberly of their need to expand the philanthropic landscape of their organizations to include new enthusiastic contributors. What kind of demographic information might be useful to actively target and elicit the support of new prospective donors?

Intuitively and experientially, we have become proficient at segmenting our various markets based on geography. We also know the differences between approaching a prospective Baby Boomer donor and a Generation X (Gen X) prospective donor.  While group characteristics of the Gen X cohort are still being define, we know the demographics for it will be significantly different than any other age group. Nichols identifies a list of demographic factors that impact the way we cultivate and solicit prospective donors. They include age, sex, race, occupation, income, household composition and life cycle.

Nichol also makes a case for understanding the mental, emotional and spiritual attributes that would cause a particular individual or specific group to give. She defines these characteristics as psychographic measures, and they include such factors as attitudes, social values and beliefs, lifestyles, interests, opinions, lifestyles and benefits.  Today, most savvy nonprofit organizations place a premium on conducting extensive donor research and aligning their solicitation approaches with the behavior predilections of their targeted audiences.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that demographics play an increasingly important role in how we raise money in a progressively diverse and competitive philanthropic environment. Whether it is the fundraiser, key leaders or both responsible for short and long term financial stability of the organization, all parties must refine their ability to effectively and efficiently raise external philanthropic funds. Today’s prospective donor wants and expects to be cultivated and solicited in a manner discernable to them.

Years ago, when I rented a modest home in a small tight-knit community in Bellflower, California, the neighborhood was initially ethnically mixed and balance. McDonald’s and other merchants sent direct mail appeals with weekly coupons that were written both in English and Spanish. The advertisement was attractive and artfully designed to lure prospective customers to their places of business.  

By the end of my one-year lease, 99.9% of the residents living in the neighborhood were Hispanic! Promotions sent by McDonald’s and others businesses were now entirely in Spanish. I lamented at the time, “These businesses cannot know I am the only non-Hispanic resident in entire the neighborhood!”

Successful businesses get it! They conduct extensive research to understand their markets and develop creative ways of communicating with their various constituency groups. Their communications are laser-focused and personal—whether ads, posters, commercials, fliers or billboards.  Visuals include children, families, senior citizens and others reflective of the targeted population.

Taking time to understand and leverage knowledge gained from researching and analyzing the psychographic characteristics will not only determine the type and frequency of communication we use to solicit diverse donors, but will provide nonprofits with a more scientific method of approaching prospects in the most personal and decisive way.

[1] Nichols, Judith E. “Changing Demographics: Fund Rising in the 1990s. Bonus Books, Inc., Chicago, IL, 1990.

[1]  Ibid., p. 9

[1] Ibid.

Alphonce J. Brown, Jr., ACFRE is a senior consultant for Philanthropic Services for Institutions and president of Docere Consulting Inc. Mr. Brown is the former chairman of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)—an international professional fundraising organization with a membership of 33,000. He founded Docere Consulting, Inc. in 2003 to serve small to midsize nonprofit organizations wishing to operate more effectively and efficiently. Docere provides a full array of fundraising services. Prior positions held include the director of development, National Minority AIDS Council; vice president of development, National Academy of Public Administration, Washington, DC; vice president of University Advancement at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, California; executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Southeast Texas; president & CEO of the Prairie View A&M University Foundation and assistant dean of External Relations, College and Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. Brown is one of 106 senior professionals to receive the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) designation and is an AFP certified Master Trainer. He is a frequent lecturer and teacher, and he has conducted fundraising workshops throughout the United States, Canada, China and Europe. He has published a number of articles on fundraising and diversity.

March 2017

Story Telling for Fundraising IMPACT

Advent Newsletter

How to Convert Engaged Friends to Donors through Storytelling

By Kae Dakin

Do you use stories in your fundraising? You should! Let’s see why the art of storytelling is a tool that you need in your bag of tricks!

Stories are essential! Good storytelling can inspire and motivate donors to give.  Your appeals for donations, not only face to face and on your website, but also in your print materials, will get better results with real stories of how your organization makes a difference to your community.

Why?  Stories build emotional ties to your organization; these ties are hard to break. Stories create passion for your work and they impact the heart.  They hook, attach and connect the reader to your mission. They reinforce your brand which is your identity and your promise.  It is what distinguishes you.

The story of a little boy, James shall we say, whose life was saved because of the training that you held for your staff which they in turn passed on to their clinicians who took care of James is what opens pocketbooks. James was saved because of you!

What is a good story?  What do you want your story to be? It must be clear, compelling, creative and show change or impact  because of the work of your organization. Great stories are ultimately about change-positive change that has happened because of your organization.

It must move people to act because it is memorable. It must have a beginning, middle and end with real characters. It puts a face on a complex issue. It must be compelling to grab attention, memorable and distinctive from other stories and move people to act on behalf of your organization.

Always remember your purpose. Are you telling the story to raise money or increase awareness of your work? Who is your audience? Past donors, peers in your field, prospective foundation sponsor?

And, what will your platform be? Is it for print? Your website? A speech for your CEO? A short paragraph for Facebook.? Even a script for outreach by your board. The message needs to be consistent throughout all of these different platforms and throughout the different departments.

Build a story bank or data base that you can adapt for whatever you may need, such as the annual report, a director’s letter, or a social media appeal. These can be your core stories; you can then be flexible to engage various audiences.

Create a story bank where you store all your good stories. Start a storytelling culture today; start each board or staff meeting by having people tell stories about what happened this past week. Write them down and bank them for the future. It will save time and money, and you will be at the ready-never at a loss for words!

While every organization needs hard impact data, emotional stories will move people to act–engage and give.  Tell stories now!

Best of luck,


Kae Dakin Consulting

Kae Dakin’s first job was as  a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya , an agricultural project,  1965-66. She served, with her husband Don, as a dairy officer.  Following the PC, Kae worked for the first half of her career with learning disabled children in both Libya and London. All of her various volunteer projects  taught her what a need there was for sound management of nonprofits. This led her into nonprofit leadership and management of several ngos. She continues her consulting practice, kae dakin consulting, helping organizations meet their goals through financial sustainability. Kae is married, has 3 sons and 3 grandchildren. She earned a BA from the U of Vermont, an MS in psychology from Yeshiva U and an MS in nonprofit management from U of MD.

February 2017

Bequest Establishes Legacy Academy and Call

By Janel Haas Ware

For we are the product of His hand…

Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA), a Seventh-day Adventist secondary boarding school in New Market, Virginia, was founded by a bequest from a young man and church worker, Charles Zirkle, whose deathbed request was to be granted his inheritance to establish a school which would prepare young people for God’s service. The dying Zirkle watched from his window as 42 acres were staked off, succumbing on the Sabbath after the gift was finalized on Friday. The school opened its doors to the first 15 students in 1908.

Heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus…

The Academy’s founding established a compelling legacy of giving for the Adventist education of young people at Shenandoah. To generations and more than 5200 graduates Zirkle’s gift has demonstrated the power of a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, inspired to selfless action for the sake of others knowing and serving Him. For 109 years, this legacy has been an echoing call to give time, talents and treasure for young people knowing Jesus as Savior and Friend, an invitation for fundraiser, donors and beneficiaries to become working members of the Body of Christ.

…to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (VOICE)

This call has echoed resoundingly in own my life, from arriving on campus as a freshman; to my first gift for a worthy student requested by a trusted teacher; and later as a parent-board volunteer working with mentors who role-modeled extending Christ’s grace to young people through their own giving and work. Two years ago, when called to fundraising ministry as Development Director at Shenandoah, I had experienced the joy and blessings of giving and working for young people to know Jesus. Then and today, I make no claim to fundraising expertise, but I can testify to the power of the Holy Spirit working through The Body to extend the grace of Jesus to young people, and to bring about the financial salvation of our school. God continues to work mightily through Charles Zirkle’s founding bequest to call and inspire generations to the good works He arranged long ago, most of all through our wonderful young people who will carry forward the great commission and lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Implications for Fundraising Ministry:

  • Know your school/organization legacy story, to draw and share inspiration of God’s leading and provision. (Psalm 116:12-14, DA 348.2)
  • A single act of generosity for the expansion of God’s kingdom has the potential to grow into something far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
  • Those who give and those who receive are called into relationship with Jesus, and to active membership in the Body of Christ, to work for others knowing Him. (1Corintihans 1:12)
  • Testify and share the joy of witnessing God’s faithfulness and evidence of His grace in your work. “It is not our plan or effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Janel Haas Ware, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, fundraises and builds relationships to support the students, mission and sustainable excellence of Adventist secondary boarding school education at Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, Virginia.

January 2017

What Is Your Proposal’s Irresistible Value Proposition?

By Jack Boyson

As a foundation officer for nearly two decades, I encountered many human service nonprofit leaders around the world who would submit proposals to me seeking financial support to transform a need or a problem facing a vulnerable people group into a solution.

The first question I would always try to answer when reviewing a proposal is, what is the proposal’s irresistible value proposition?

An irresistible value proposition of a proposal clearly demonstrates the tangible measurable results that will be achieved by the organization with the population it serves, and their alignment with a donor’s grant making priorities.

In helping me to further understand what a proposal’s irresistible value proposition is, I would ask myself a series of questions when reviewing it:

Is the proposal compelling? Does the proposal offer appropriate and timely solutions to an urgent and critical need?

Is it client/participant focused? Is the proposal clearly client-focused rather than organizationally-centered? How well are the perceptions of those to be served incorporated into the proposal? And how involved will they be in the project as outlined in the proposal?

Is its Theory of Change Model viable? Does the proposal incorporate the key elements of a change model that concisely and systematically outlines the linkages between the resources needed to conduct activities that will make promised changes become a reality for a particular vulnerable people group?

Is it feasible? Will the project described in the proposal likely to achieve its outputs, outcomes, and long-term impacts? How realistic is it? What are the risks? What is the nature and extent of the human, material, and financial resources needed to reach its targets and impacts?

Is it cost-effective? What is the relationship between the cost of implementing a project as described in a proposal and its benefits? Sometimes when I would compare the different methodologies, activities, and tasks outlined in proposals from applicants from the same geographical area, the best proposals to be considered for funding were the ones that achieved the desired results at the most reasonable cost–but not necessarily the lowest cost.

Is it relevant? A proposal may be both feasible and cost-effective, but may not be relevant because it fails to directly and effectively address the need it set out to tackle.

Is it non-duplicating? How well does the proposal idea fill a unique gap or unmet need and not duplicate what other organizations may be doing?

Is it sustainable? The final question in determining a what a proposal’s irresistible value proposition is, can the project outlined in the proposal go on delivering benefits after funding has ended? If so, how?

Those proposals which provided concise cogent responses to the questions listed above, all converged to become the proposal’s irresistible value proposition and thus merited approval for funding.

Jack Boyson is an international development professional with extensive experience in designing, managing, and evaluating workforce development and NGO institutional capacity building programs in Asia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Latin American, the Middle East and North Africa, the Philippines, and Russia. He has trained hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and nonprofit professionals around the world on how to conduct community needs assessments, plan projects, and write proposals that merit funding. Mr. Boyson was formerly employed by the SDA Church for 25 years as an educator and international development worker, and by the International Youth Foundation as Senior Programs Director for 18 years. Currently his most recent clients include ADRA International, Catholic Relief Services/Ethiopia, Impaq International, the Inter-American Development Bank, International Youth Foundation, JBS International, Making Cents International, RTI International, and the United States Agency for International Development.

December 2016

Partnering Leads to Larger Grants

By Mary Anne Chern

mary-anne-chernPartnering among community organizations can maximize philanthropy while transforming and positively changing a community. At White Memorial Medical Center, we have a great track record for choosing and working with community partners. And our successful alignment with partners has helped us secure more, and larger, grants. Some examples of how our successful, grant-funded community partnerships are transforming our community include:

1 ) Improving our exclusive breastfeeding rate (which was previously 16% and among the lowest in our County). Thanks to a collaborative partnership funded by First5 involving 55 organizations including social work nonprofits, hospitals, County agencies, and universities, our hospital recently achieved a 54% exclusive breastfeeding rate.

2) Offering more high-paying professional jobs to our 87% Hispanic, low-income community. Knowing that our community has a 27% unemployment rate, as compared to our County’s average of 6%, we partnered with a local organization that specializes in Hispanic workforce development thanks to a start-up grant from UniHealth Foundation. Now, 30% of the hospital’s employees are from our local service area. Also we have increased the number of nurses from our community as a result of scholarships: at hospitals nationwide, only 4.4% of RN’s are Hispanic as compared to WMMC, where 45% are Hispanic.

3) Providing permanent housing for 18 homeless who visited our Emergency Room frequently. By leveraging community partnerships and applying for large grants as a collaborative, we placed 18 homeless in permanent housing, decreased Emergency Room visits by 65%, decreased length of stay for each homeless patient by 12 days, and decreased the hospital’s cost of caring for these patients by 53%.

How do you figure out which organizations will make the best partners? First, it is essential to understand that you need to be selective and choose partners that understand your mission and face similar community challenges. Have you reviewed your local nonprofit hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which is produced every 3 years and can probably be found on your hospital’s website? The CHNA for your community can be a good place to start thinking about partnerships because it contains useful information: community ethnicity, educational attainment levels, family income, and data on social determinants affecting health. So let’s take an example: if the CHNA documents asthma and respiratory disease in the community, and if you are the fundraiser for a school with high absenteeism rates due to asthma, then that could be a significant funding opportunity, and it would be worthwhile to call the hospital development officer to suggest the two of you partnering to seek a grant to reduce asthma in your community! A collaborative with one or more partners is more likely to get funding than your organization alone, and another benefit a partner can provide is experts to help advise on implementation.

Keep an open mind, and remember that our organizations and our communities can benefit from partnerships!

Mary Anne Chern, FAHP, ACFRE
President, White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation and
Senior VP, Fund Development and External Relations, WMMC

Many Anne Chern, FAHP, ACFRE is a trained and highly experienced hospital resource development professional. She is 1 of only 6 individuals to have achieved both of the top professional credentials in her field: Fellows Certification from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (FAHP), and Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Mary Anne is held in high regard by her peers, and in 2015 she was awarded the highest honor in her profession by AHP, the Harold J. (Si) Seymour Award, in recognition of distinguished leadership and exemplary standards of excellence. In 2010 she was elected as the Chair of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the international professional association that represents all health care fundraisers in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

She has served as President of the Foundation and Sr. VP Fund Development and External Relations at White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles for the past 20 years. White Memorial is part of Adventist Health.


November 2016


by Audie Robinson

audie-robinsonIn an age of high technology and connectivity to the most remote parts of the world, one would think that responsiveness would be the natural outcome of having communication gadgets at our fingertips. Unfortunately, gadgets are extremely useful in being responsive, yet it is more an attitude and state of mind why some people are extremely responsive and others are not, even if they have the same availability to technology and similar responsibilities and schedules.

Why Is Responsiveness Important In Fundraising?

Fundraising is the art of relationship building between the fundraising and their prospective donor, and it is also promoting the reputation of the nonprofit, foundation, or organization to the world around it. Responsiveness will convey a positive message about the fundraiser and their organization. Who wants it to be said of them, “You know…they never called me back,” or “It took months for them to respond and by that time I donated to another organization”. Being responsive to a prospect can make him or her feel special, important, valuable, and respected. By using the principle of reciprocity, a good deed, such as being responsive, will be rewarded by a relationship established or built upon a great recommendation or eventually a donation.

Responsiveness is essential to prevent losing or missing opportunities from prospects. Responding immediately means that you do not have to schedule a response which could pile up with other work or distractions, or even worse, that one forgets resulting in this task falling through the cracks. We recommend as much as possible, taking on a “do it now” philosophy and “just get it out of the way” to improve responsiveness.

In fundraising and various campaigns, the process is very time consuming. Potential prospects and people in the fundraising circle of influence can be very unresponsive and even evasive particularly when they do not want to be asked to make a donation.  Being responsive can go a long way in winning the confidence of a person that could pay off in the future, especially since timing is everything in fundraising and it is not usually a sprint to the finish.

Great customer service can result in winning over clients, prospects, and donors. Our 9 to 5 working hours may not be completely effective in our digital age where constant communication with the rest of the world is in our hands, purse, or pocket. International prospects (outside of the United States) may need added attention and responsiveness due to their indirect culture and personality. However, their response may be different since time could be more fluid in their minds, and they do not feel rushed or compelled in the same way others think of being on time or responsive.

Utilize one’s method of response carefully.  Text messages are appropriate for short responses. Emails can provide more detail, yet apply the right amount of quality control to review all forms of communication to make sure it conveys the right tone. Telephone conversations are an excellent method for more important communication that could be lost in a text or an email, but the very best technique is a face to face response which communicates body language and gestures. A video call could work when it is not possible to be in the same location. Pick the method that fits the prospect and is the most responsive. If the prospect did not see or listen to your response, he or she may perceive it as being unresponsive. Follow up to make sure the prospect received the response or one can respond using multiple methods of communication where needed.

Audie Robinson is an architect, project manager and fundraiser for Christian institutions in the US and abroad. He has worked on large and mega public and private sector architecture projects in the US and Internationally.

October 2016

“Good news” in the Giving Sector – D. Lane

derek-lane-smThe latest data from *GivingUSA suggests that we may have experienced our most generous year ever. After a few years of decline, Americans donated slightly over $373 billion to charitable work in 2015. This uptick in contributions came from all sources; individual, foundation, corporate, as well as giving by bequest. And for those of us who work in the religious or faith-based sector, the percentage of total charitable contributions held steady at 32% after a few years of steady decline.

For those engaged in donor development work, that is welcome news! Nearly half of all charities have budgets of less than $100,000. Many of these smaller charities feel the economic pinch in a weak economy. Someone has suggested years ago that when the economy sneezes, nonprofits catch a cold! But the economic outlook is the United States seems to be experiencing a recovery and the nonprofit sector is a happy beneficiary.

But how should those of us engaged in fundraising and donor development work respond to this welcome trend? Those of us who have spent a good portion of our career in charitable work recognize the ebb and flow and, without sounding pessimistic, also recognize that the rising tide will not last forever. So how do we reinvigorate and respond strategically to a philanthropic community better positioned to come alongside of their nonprofit partners? We’d like to suggest two approaches that may increase the likelihood of success;

  1. Consider a resource development strategy that includes both gifts and grants. While slightly over 70% of charitable giving comes in the form of individual contributions there is still a case to be made for grant-writing as a part of your overall resource development strategy. If you work with a nonprofit, and had an opportunity to potential increase the revenue potential of your agency by nearly 50%, would you consider it? Most of the strategies and discussions around the table for public charities center on increasing “gifts” with little or no attention given to pursuing grants. At the risk of over-simplifying the distinction, we typically “ask” for gifts and “write” for grants. And while proposal writing may be tedious, technical, and often takes longer to realize results, it can still play a significant part of an overall resource development strategy and long-term sustainability.
  2. Remember, relationships first, then resources. There is technical jargon in the fundraising and resource development world we use to describe this approach. Words like donor prospecting, cultivation, and retention, etc. I recently saw the title of a book describe the process of fundraising as “friend-raising.” But however you describe it, one cannot over-estimate the importance of relationship-building in the work of securing resources for public charitable work. The successful resource development strategist recognizes that there are three constituencies that cannot be ignored; 1) individuals or families you serve, 2) volunteers and staff who manage the agency and help to fulfill its mission, and 3) donors and contributors who provide financial or in-kind support. Becoming intentional about nurturing relationships and engaging constituents in these three key distinct areas is an integral part of long-term sustainability.

So while there is good news on the resource-side of public charitable work, let’s remember to approach it strategically by developing a comprehensive resource development strategy and remember to place people first. That is, after all, why we exist.

Derek Lane is an ordained minister and currently serving as President of The Lane Consulting Group, providing presentations and workshops to help launch, grow, and fund community and faith-based organizations”

September 2016

Am I An Expert in Fundraising? No!

kara turpen smI’ll come out with it. I’m not an expert on much of anything… yet. Being only five years into my professional fundraising career, I pride myself in not being an expert.

“Pride yourself?” you may ask. Yes! I am proud to not be an expert in fundraising. Why? Because what I am an expert in is asking for help.

This skill – asking for help – is one that has not come easily to me. Being a “millennial,” I’m sure you can understand that there’s a part of me that’s got it all figured out (I can feel the collective smirk forming on everyone’s face as they read this). I’m happy to report that I’ve learned that I do not have it all figured out! I know there are many other fundraising professionals – and they’re not all millennials! – who also struggle with asking for help. I’m here to tell you, as an expert, that you need to ask for help.

Chances are high that your nonprofit organization is running slim. You probably don’t have all of the human or material resources you really need to accomplish all that you do. You’re balancing major gift programs, fundraising events, annual giving programs, alumni, boards, employees, and … and … and … the list goes on!

So, what’s stopping you from asking for help? You know you don’t have what you need, and the best way to counter that is to maximize every possible tool at your disposal. Put your pride aside – it’s ok to not be a know-it-all!

3 Reasons to Ask For Help

  • People L-O-V-E to Help (If You Ask)

When I was moving from one apartment to another, I called my dad in tears. “Dad, there’s just too much stuff! I don’t know how I’m going to get it all accomplished!” He calmly said, “Just ask for help.” He explained that people love to help if you simply ask. (Does this remind you of something else related to asking? The number one reason people don’t give is because they aren’t asked.) He was right! I sent a group text out to a bunch of friends, and before the day was done, I was completely moved.

Your board is a great resource when it comes to asking for help. You’ve done great work to get a group of people from many different industries who are experts in their fields. They’ve partnered with you, they love your mission, and they would love to help you. Ask them!

  • It’s an Amazing Way to Learn

When we’re in college, we learn from the experts. Why wouldn’t we want the same in our professional careers?  

There was a time when I worked as a database administrator. This was not my ideal role. I now appreciate the time I spent in the position and feel that it has given me a broad perspective on an entire fundraising program, but there were times when I really struggled to know how to proceed! Luckily for me, I had Eric. It was not uncommon for him to receive an email from me with the subject, “HELP!” He was able to show me how to complete specific tasks, gave me ideas and perspective based on how his organization managed the database, and even show me a few tricks to make myself more efficient. Because I was willing to ask for his help, I was able to focus on larger “problems” and not get stuck on the small things.  

  • It’s a Life Skill

I believe that asking for help is life skill. I Googled “life skill” just to see what the internet says (I already confessed to being a millennial!): “a skill that is necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life.”

I may not be too far down my career path (yet!), but I can already see that being willing to ask for help is something that will always serve me well.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. You’ll be glad you did!

Kara Turpen is a dedicated and enthusiastic team member who enjoys connecting passion to mission.

Connect with her on LinkedIn.

August 2016

Enhancing Donor Relationships

By Andrew S. Lay

Andrew LayAs I sat down next to the academy alumna, I noted her pleasant smile, bright, twinkling eyes, and the desire to spend time talking with a faculty member.  Since I had the time, I asked about her academy story.  After learning about her life and how she benefited from attending an Adventist academy, I thanked her for her support and mentioned the impact she made on me as a current faculty member.  She silently wrote a check, handed to me, and asked that it be placed in the current student aid fund.

This piqued my interest in fundraising as a profession.  Actively listening to her for five minutes changed my perspective on the best way to fundraise and how to effectively partner with donors. Through numerous past and current donor interactions, I have been able to help donors realize their philanthropic interests by sincerely being interested in their stories.  Five principles of enhancing donor relationships have become evident through these experiences.

1. Thank the donors personally and specifically

People generally like to be called by name and want to know that you are interested in their lives and families.  They are will be open to great friendships as you seek to understand them and their interests.  It is important to know what they like to give to and why.  They will give if they know you truly care, respect their wishes and steward the gift accordingly.

2. Ask their story as related to your non-profit

Each person has a story to share about their lives and why they give.  Ask open-ended questions to determine their funding interests, how they like to be approached with news about the non-profit, and where they would like to make a difference in the world.  Be open to listening to their funding priorities even if they may be different from your own.

3. Share the impact their donation has made to your organization

Beginning from their recent gift, share what a difference they have made to you and your non-profit.  Share with them new funding initiatives as they relate to their funding interests.  This is the time to explore new ways of support and to ask for their advice to further your upcoming challenges and opportunities.

4. Involve them in the various events your non-profit sponsors

As you discover their story, involve them in the events that they would enjoy based on their interests.  Ask for their heart-felt participation. Time and talent will have been shared with the your non-profit by now- opening the best way to ask them for a significant gift.

5. Stewardship doesn’t stop at the gift

Any gift provides the springboard to start this whole process over again.  Donors will joyfully give to organizations who relate the requested gifts to their interests.  Make sure that you thank them personally and often in different ways.  As you work with donors in this way, you will find the time you give to be well-spent.  Your passion will grow for this process as you seek to understand your donors fully before asking for a gift.

Andrew S. Lay is the Director of Advancement at Highland View Academy.


July 2016

Do you start with “feasibility” … or with what you want?

by Jim Lord

Jim-050-square-300x300Southridge School, an independent school near Vancouver, B.C., was founded without a big gift, without a wealthy patron, without a feasibility study.

“If we’d begun by analyzing the ‘feasibility’ of founding a new school, we probably would’ve stopped dead in our tracks,” says Debbie MacDougall, one of the school’s founders.

“We wanted the school, so we just kept finding ways to bring it to life.”

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad, leading thinkers on business strategy, echo Debbie’s thoughts from their experience in business:

Where fit is achieved (between resources and ambitions) by simply paring down ambitions, there will be no spur for such ingenuity and much … strategic potential will remain dormant. Tests of realism and feasibility must not be prematurely applied.

If that’s true in business, it may be even more true in the social sector.

After all, the resources available to us are not a “given” that we can calculate in advance.

We’re working with the built-in desire to contribute, to invest ourselves in society, to make a difference. We can strengthen that desire by giving people a chance to bring to the surface hopes that they long to see realized.

So why let our initial hunches (or fears) about feasibility limit our imagination, vision, and enterprise?

Instead of trimming their dreams to fit their seemingly limited resources, Southridge’s founders trusted themselves.

They focused on what they had going for them and what they wanted. They tapped into their own deep stores of will and desire. And they stretched their aspirations far beyond their apparent resources.

When Southridge admitted its first students, it was $18 million in debt.

I like to call it a “reverse endowment.” Some might call it risky, perhaps even foolhardy. But stretching toward the dream has worked.

While steadily paying down its debt, Southridge has managed to keep its tuition among the most competitive in the province, and its academic rank among the very highest. In fact, as early as its seventh year, it was named the best school academically in British Columbia.

Am I saying we can simply forget about being “realistic” and completely ignore the obstacles in our way, or the possibility of abject failure?

Well, I’m sure tempted.

Instead I’ll suggest that we can let questions of feasibility take a back seat for a while.

Doing so gives you room to make absolutely sure that you’ve taken into account all the things you have going for you: every single one of the useful circumstances that surround you, the entire inventory of the assets and strengths of your organization and its people. And that you’ve fully appreciated them, thereby increasing their value.

The confidence resulting from such a stance can attract audacious investments, as people come to see how your organization advances the kind of world they want.

At the same time, you can begin to let go of the notion that your organization’s potential for success is limited by forces in the world, community, or the field in which you operate.

Jim Collins, writing in Good to Great and the Social Sectors, observes that he encountered an interesting dynamic as he began to study the social sector, where“people often obsess on systemic constraints,” when instead they could move forward with what they can do to advance the kind of world they want.

If you do find circumstances that seem daunting, or perhaps even opposed to what you want in the world, you might see what happens when you ignore them. They just may turn out to be less important than you thought.

Or you might allow them to do what they did for Debbie and her fellow founding board members: evoke a sharp response and redouble their commitment.


Jim Lord has devoted his life to expanding what’s possible for people who want to change the world. His early years working on capital campaigns led to The Raising of Money, the all-time bestselling book on fund raising, thanks to amazing sales in its first decade of release.

A link to his site:


June 2016

3 Ways Good Marketing Helps Your Fundraising

Lisa GoolsbyI’ve been on both sides.  I have worked on the marketing strategy, branding, and messaging for major non-profits in healthcare and higher education. I have also cultivated donors, solicited major gifts, and created a case for significant fundraising campaigns. As a classically trained marketer having seen both sides, it is easy to make the case for marketing that aligns with fundraising. In the non-profit world—they need each other. But how should they come together?

Creating Strategic Goals

Truly great marketing is much less about the promotion everyone sees and much more about the strategy that drives the organization. Just as customers want something worthy to believe in so do philanthropists. Your organizational goals need to be aligned with a strong and inspiring vision.

Developing a Worthy Brand

Your brand is not your logo and your logo is not your brand. The brand is the essence of the organization. Understanding what you do for your customers and conveying it in every facet of the organization works to generate growth as well as support. When donors decide to give, it is through a shared belief in what the organization is doing and how they are doing it and this speaks to a well-defined and developed brand.

Crafting the Message

The key to great marketing is knowing your audience so well you can recite their needs, wants, and desires and have a method of fulfilling all three before they even have them identified. Knowing what drives your donors to respond allows you to craft a message that will compel them to be a part of something they are eager to put their time, money, and/or name behind. Don’t craft a message you find compelling. Craft a message your customers/donors find compelling.

The basic principles of marketing are also the principles that should drive your campaign. Understand your market and your goals and once aligned your desired outcomes will follow.

Lisa Goolsby, MBA, PCM, PhD (ABD)

Lisa is CEO of Impact Strategic Marketing Insights, where she provides marketing research, strategy, and implementation for clients towards assisting them with achieving their goals.

Cell: (423) 991-3244


May 2016

“I create my life!”

Marcy Heim,  The Artful Asker

Marcy HeimIf you’ve ever been to one of my talks, you’re heard me say this.  It’s been part of my day, every day, since first hearing T. Harv Eker speak years ago.

I start every day with it. First thing when my feet hit the floor I say, “I CREATE MY LIFE!”


After over 30 years of researching and applying mindset and method tools to maximize my potential, it’s still incredibly easy for me to give away my power and create very compelling “reasons” why I don’t get the results I want in a day, in my work or in my life.

Reasons like, 

  • “I don’t have the tech support to get this done.” 
  • “There are simply too many emails to manage.” 
  • “I don’t have the time.”
  • “I’m just a slow writer.” 
  • “Others have been doing this longer, that’s why they have more success.”

In our fundraising these “reasons” can look like this:

  • “We are short-staffed right now.” Or “We don’t have enough staff.”
  • “We don’t have wealthy people interested in our cause.”
  • “My boss doesn’t understand fundraising.”
  • “Donors are ask too much.”
  • “I’m just not good at ___________.” (fill in the blank)
  • “We don’t have the right people on our board.”
  • “I have too many competing responsibilities.”
  • “Our event takes too much of my time.”
  • “Donors won’t meet with me.”
  • “I don’t know how to______________.” (fill in the blank)
  • “My ED (or Dean, or President, or Doc) won’t go on calls with me.”

I could fill pages and pages with these “reasons” my clients tell me are why they are not getting the “results” they want.

All of these are stories we tell ourselves to avoid the real story, “This isn’t the way I want it because I didn’t take action to make it that way.”

We ALL have circumstances that make our work and life either “challenging” or “easy.”  What is interesting is that the same situation will look different to different people and even to us on different days! So what is it? Challenging or easy?

When you blame someone else, or a situation as “out of your control” you give away your power to do anything about it. You feel less guilty about missing your numbers, or a deadline, but you are limiting your growth and potential for experiencing what you want in your life.

It’s never the size of the problem. It’s the size of YOU!  When we give away our power, life happens TO us. When we take responsibility, we grow, we own it, and we take action. I guarantee the specifics details of your situation don’t change all that much. The boss is still the boss. The donor is still the donor. What has changed is your story and how you’re deciding to write the next lines. Thinking that the results others achieve are because they have something we don’t have, or that they are somehow more capable is nonsense! It’s simply not true. The action you take, or don’t take (what can I do about it anyway?) has a ripple effect and on your success and joy, and it compounds into your ‘results’ in the future.

Bosses, “accountability buddies,” metrics, goals, “to do” lists can be aids to help us take back our power.  

Make a commitment to begin each day by saying out load, “I CREATE MY LIFE!”

Own it. Embrace your power.  I guarantee you will love your “results” when you take responsibility for your “reasons.” 

Invest in Joy!

Marcy Heim, CFRE, PLCC

The Artful Asker LLC
Office (608)238-4024
Cell (608)772-6777
Toll Free (888)324-0442

Sign up for a complimentary subscription of Artful Action, her ezine at

© 2016 Marcy Heim and The Artful Asker LLC.


April 2016

The Answer: “An Awesome No”

Terry Newmyer
Managing Director at Strategies Now Inc.

Terry NewmyerWhen I first entered the assignment of Chief Development Officer, my philanthropy coach taught me the best methods to ask for a major gift. She had great life experiences, raising millions from donors, and she walked on water when it came to teaching and exercising wholesome influence.

Early in my training the day came when we were scheduled to meet with a community philanthropist at his office. It was our strategy to ask for a six figure gift. My coach offered to present the close and suggested that I express some words to warm the discussion.

As we arrived for the meeting the tone was cordial and upbeat. My coach and I were well acquainted with our donor and he showed positive engagement. After a twenty minute discussion of pleasant exchanges my coach laid out our appreciation for his friendship, the case for a major gift, and asked for a pledge.

I was prepared for a favorable result, given all the positive signals. But, instead the philanthropist responded with “an awesome no” … Not a maybe, just a definitive no.

I thought I was about to fall out of my chair. I wanted to shrink and become invisible. It was a moment I did not expect. I felt really awkward.

However, my coach was so gracious. She showed empathy for his philanthropy priorities. She agreed that he could not make large gifts to every worthy cause. She kindly let him know that she understood his conclusion and how we still valued his friendship.

Before leaving the office we returned to some fun banter and then a few minutes later we adjourned. As we walked into the parking lot I looked at my coach in amazement and asked how she felt about what happened?

She replied with ease, saying that we did good work. She explained that we gave him an opportunity that he was not ready to accept. She pointed out how much time we had talked about his potential gift as we had prepared for the meeting and getting to a clear result was important to our process. She treated the outcome as useful research. It was not distressing to her. Her point was simply that we could now shift the time we were dedicating to cultivate him to another worthy donor.

How often in life are there circumstances when we need to hear an “awesome no,” so we can move on with our purpose? How often do we resist calling for the decision because we fear the “awesome no?”

I learned a lesson from my coach that day about the value to hear the word “no.” If an “awesome no” is coming, it seems useful to get that understood. The word “no” can open new paths for making healthy adjustments as we navigate our responsibilities in work and life.


March 2016

The Role of a Fundraising Team Leader

Duke HaddadDuke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE

Fundraising team leaders in organizations have an impossible job. They must create grand game plans, implement strategic plans, educate internal and external constituencies on the value of their fundraising program, plus identify priority needs for fundraising purposes. Somehow, they need to motivate and direct a staff that is hopefully on the same page as the team leader. This isn’t easy because many staff listen but do not hear. Because of the difference in education, experience, age and learning filters, they might interpret thoughts and directives differently than the team leader.

Daily sand shifting leads the fundraising team leader into a variety of productive and nonproductive fundraising and administrative tasks. Many individuals cannot balance their responsibilities and play to their perceived strengths. This isn’t easy especially with a food chain because you report to someone that gives you assignments that take time and energy away from fundraising.

As a fundraising team leader, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses plus your direct reports. You need to evaluate your style of management and see if it needs adjusting from time to time. Staff members need and want change, and you have to adjust accordingly. Think in terms of counterbalancing. Try to determine how you can play off each other for maximum effectiveness. Keep your eye on the big picture and constantly evaluate where you need to spend the most time and attention for organizational progress that includes resource development acquisition.

As a team leader, walk the walk. I had a subordinate recently tell me I was the hardest working supervisor she ever had in her career. I thanked her, but my question to myself was: is the translation of working hard, working smart? I know exactly where my program is strong and weak. I also can rank my staff in terms of productivity and organizational value. One time I was told to cut my development staff by 25 percent. While it was personally hard from a human relations perspective, it was also easy for me in the sense that I knew and the staff members knew who performed and who did not perform.

To succeed long term in a career where fundraising goals are part of the organizational mission and expectation, understand how to balance your management responsibilities. The higher up the organization you go, the harder it will be to maintain what I call the rule of thirds. If you can, spend no more than a 1/3 of your time managing. Spend no more than 1/3 of your time in personal daily operational leadership. Spend at least a 1/3 of your time with a long-term goal of at least 1/2 to 5/8 of your time personally fundraising at the highest level. You simply have no choice.

Being a fundraising team leader is at times impossible. In my long career, I have worked with a large number of fundraising team leaders and few could effectively balance their focus correctly. As long as you are responsible for a team of fundraising professionals with fundraising goals hanging above your head, your primary attention should be obvious.

Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. He is also president of Duke Haddad & Associates, LLC fundraising consulting firm in Indianapolis, Indiana. A prolific writer, Dr. Haddad has contributed articles to national publications for over 30 years. He currently publishes a weekly post for NonProfit PRO Magazine in Philadelphia, PA. He has received a number of awards from Governors, including the Sagamore of the Wabash Award in Indiana, Outstanding West Virginian Award in West Virginia, and Kentucky Colonel Award in Kentucky. Dr. Haddad also received a Distinguished Graduate Student Alumnus Award from Marshall University and membership in the Jasper Deahl Honor Society by West Virginia University. He was also named Fundraising Executive of the Year Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Indiana. Dr. Haddad was granted lifetime membership in Nu Lambda Mu Honor Society by Nonprofit Academic Centers Council and is an adjunct professor for Olivet Nazarene University.




February 2016

A Reflection on a Chosen Profession

David K. Burghart, CFRE

David K BurghartAbout thirty years ago, I was a teacher at an SDA academy and was approached about starting a fundraising program.  My first reaction—“this sounds like Ingathering, and I am not very interested”.  However, with a bit of persuasion, and a two-day course on fund raising from The Fund Raising School, I was on a new professional journey.  Those two days changed my life and offered me an opportunity that I have cherished ever since.

My first project was a campaign to raise funds for lights on the ball field.  I still remember the excitement opening the mail each day as support started arriving.  Soon the fund swelled enough to install the lights.  Thereafter, when the lights would shine on the evening athletics, my heart would swell with pride.

From that time forward, the focus of my professional life has been fund raising.  No, I am not a professional beggar, as some might think.  I am a bridge-builder, spanning the gap between the needs of an institution and the interest of a prospective donor.  In essence, I have a story to tell and I find a heart that is willing to listen and interested in making a difference.

Through the years I have attended numerous conferences and read many books and articles where I have learned new tactics.  Many of them have been useful and have shaped my thinking on how fundraising is done.  However, it all harkens back to the basics I learned thirty years ago.  Do your research, make a strong case, tell your story to the right audience and make the ask.

It doesn’t matter what type of institution you represent or how wealthy your donors are, the face-to-face ask is by far the most effective.  Visual aids help to tell your story, but there is no substitute for a personal encounter.

A number of years ago, while visiting two elderly sisters, I experienced a donor visit that left me on ‘cloud nine.’  These sisters had recently lost spouses.  They had spent a lifetime working for different Adventist institutions.  During the conversation, they spoke of interest in establishing an endowed scholarship at the university I represented.  After some conversation, I wasn’t sure which sister was the financial backer of this plan.  When asked, the most talkative sister explained that she was handling the estate of a deceased relative who had worked for the university long ago.  This scholarship would be in their name.  She excused herself to the bedroom to get a check big enough to initiate an endowed scholarship.  While she was out of the room, the quieter sister asked if she could do the same from her funds.  Of course, the answer was yes, and off to the back of the house she went to get her check.  Then, the first sister told me that she intended to begin another endowed scholarship in her name.  I left that day, with three gifts from one conversation.

I knew then, that I made the right decision thirty years ago.

David K. Burghart, CFRE
Lakeland Health Foundation, President

1234 Napier Ave.
St. Joseph, MI. 49085

Phone:  269-985-3039