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Published November 13, 2013

The Story of Farmer Fleming

This story comes to me from Jim Miller. He is Vice President of Children's Hospital of Central California.

It's an excellent illustration for all of us in the field. You don't always know or recognize the impact you make on a person's life. It is well to remember that you are in the business of changing lives and saving lives. In your institution, you make this happen. You are the spark that ignites a blaze.

Here is Jim's story.

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Published November 6, 2013

A Gift of Pearls...What Would You Do?

This actually happened. The Vice President of a well-known and prestigious private university had been calling on a very wealthy widow, a major donor, for a number of years.

There were always several visits a year. And regular telephone calls and letters. The relationship was very close. On one occasion, the donor said to the Vice President, “I love these visits. You know in some way, I think of you as being a daughter of mine.”

A month or so ago, they are meeting in the donor’s living room.After an hour or so, the donor asks to be excused.She goes to her bedroom.She comes out holding a small box.

(After you read the rest of the article E-mail me your response by November 15, 2013. Be sure to include a mailing address so we can send you a copy of the Little Gold Book.)

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 Published October 23, 2013

Must I Give Again?

The other day, I came across this poem in an old file. I first discovered it thirty years ago. Feel free to use it any way you wish-a brochure, a direct mail piece, a letter to donors, your quarterly newsletter, whatever.

Angel, must I give again,
I ask in dismay.
And must I keep giving,
And giving and giving it away?
Oh no, said the angel,
His glance pierced me through.
Just keep giving
‘Til the Lord stops giving to you.

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 Published October 16, 2013

Recognition and Praise for Your Staff

It was my great joy and privilege to get to know Mary Kay Ash quite well. She was chair (and a major donor) in one of our campaigns. You likely recognize her best of all as founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics.

One day we were talking. She told me that there are two things people want most in life: recognition and praise.

For anyone who works with a staff, there is great wisdom in those words.

When Robert A. Eckert was Chairman and CEO of Mattel, he said that thank you were the two most important words in the language. Here are some tips he suggests:

1. Set aside time every week to acknowledge the good work of your staff.

2. Write handwritten thank you notes as much as possible. The personal touch matters, particularly in this digital age.

3. Punish in private. Praise in public. Make the public praise timely and specific.

4. Remember to copy the supervisor of the people you are praising. Follow the old verity: “Don’t tell me.  Tell my boss.”

5. Foster a culture of gratitude. It’s a game-changer for sustaining better performance.

All of this works precisely the same way for donors, also. We have one client where every member of the development staff writes a thank-you note to a donor every evening before they leave work.

Follow my BOY rule— Because Of You.  Let your donors know that you couldn’t have done it without their help.

Clark Baker is the CEO of the Houston YMCA. He writes a thank-you note every day before he leaves work. As a matter of fact, he sends more than one.  And most of his staff follow the practice.

Begin an epidemic. Get everyone on the staff to begin sending handwritten notes.

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Published October 9, 2013

Six Secrets of Success

I heard from Cindy Scott the other day. She is at Parkland Health & Hospital System (Dallas, Texas).

She mentioned that she has been working at major gifts for the past 10 years. She gave me her six secrets for success. They are:

1. Always Be Honest
2. Make Yourself Memorable
3. Be Accessible
4. Appreciate Your Prospects
5. Delight Your Donors
6. Forge Lifetime Relationships

It reminded me of a visit I had recently with Malin Burnham. Without question, he is considered the number one volunteer leader in San Diego. Most would say there isn't a close number two!

Malin and I were talking about his success in life, I pressed him a bit. He gave it some serious thought. He says there are seven virtues he holds close to his heart.

They are so important that they appear on several plaques in conspicuous areas in the Malin Burnham Sailing Center. It was built for young people at the San Diego Yacht Club.

Hard Work
Follow Through
Playing By the Rules
Planning Ahead

My thanks to both Cindy and Malin. Their verities are as consequential to effective and successful fundraising as they are to everything we do in life.

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 Published October 3, 2013

Holiday Inn Founder, Kemmons Wilson's Tips for Success

Kemmons Wilson began with a dream. And he built it into nearly two thousand Holiday Inns in this country and 15 different countries. Someone once asked Wilson his tips for success. Some of these are as appropriate for those of us in development work and leadership positions as they are for any profession.

1.  Work only half a day. It makes no difference which half. It can either be the first 12 hours or the last 12 hours
2. Hard work is the master key that opens a door to all opportunities.
3. Mental attitude plays a far more important role in a person’s success or failure than mental capacity.
4. Remember that we all climb the ladder of success one step at a time.
5. There are two ways to get to the top of an oak tree. One way is to sit on an acorn and wait. The other is to climb it.
6. The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.
7. Eliminate from your vocabulary, “I don’t think I can.” Instead, substitute “I know I can.”
8. You must not procrastinate. In two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.
9. A successful person realizes his personal responsibility for self-motivation. He starts himself because he possesses the key to his own ignition switch.

For a copy of these tips you can download a pdf, click here (pdf).

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 Published September 25, 2013

The Right People: A Profile of a Major Gift Donor

Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter so much what your organization considers or calls a major gift. It’s what the donor feels is a major gift that really counts.

Having said that, it’s important for you to have a profile of a Major Gift Donor. It will help you in your quest for the gift. I am going to give you ten factors to consider.

This tool will help you rate your Probable Donor. Fill this out for each source.

For a copy of the Major Gift Donor Profile you can download, click here (pdf).



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Published September 18, 2013

The Right Amount to Ask For

What is the right amount to ask for? Here are some key factors to consider in setting the amount.