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Our Insights

Read our latest thoughts, ideas and advice on the issues impacting nonprofit organizations’ fundraising and philanthropy; we cover everything from planning and leadership development to nonprofit business strategy. Consultants share their unique viewpoint, based on firsthand experience serving clients across a broad spectrum of industry sectors.

So it happened last week – just as it does every year – the announcement and publication of the Forbes 400 list. Forbes terms it as the “definitive list of wealth in America” and I can’t argue with that description. In fact, the estimated aggregate wealth for the full list is somewhere north of $2 ... Continue Reading
For over 60 years, fundraising leaders have made great use of the insights provided by Giving USA – the longest-running and most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. Details from the report identify trends in charitable giving important to organizations of all types and sizes. Institutions use the data from Giving USA to ... Continue Reading
Think back on 2009 — a notorious year for the American economy and, of course, American philanthropy. Merriam-Webster touted “bailout” as the Word of the Year (2008), many institutions faced historic challenges and fundraising goals were reduced. That year, Dini Spheris surveyed philanthropists on their opinions about the economy and charitable giving. Of those surveyed, ... Continue Reading

Are You Connecting?

March 24, 2016
Networking: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions; specifically, the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. Everyone networks today, but what makes some of us better at it than others? Too many people only think about the number of business cards they can collect or hands they can shake. True ... Continue Reading
Holly Lang, Senior Consultant
A volunteer asked me recently, what exactly does it mean that there is an “art” to fundraising? There are many parts to the answer, but one of the most powerful fundraising arts is authenticity. Some of the most effective solicitations I’ve been a part of crafting came together when the volunteer solicitors enlisted support from ... Continue Reading
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
One of my hobbies related to my love of ideas is to study the origins of very ordinary and everyday words and expressions. Recently, I was thinking about a dimension of leadership that is a sine qua non – that is essential — for campaign success. I was thinking about the word “ownership.” The success ... Continue Reading
Giving USA 2015: Estimated $358.38 Billion to Charity in 2014 Fifth Straight Year of Growth Highest Total in Report’s 60-year History   Americans donated an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014, surpassing the pre-recession benchmark year of 2007. In addition, 2014 was the fifth year in a row of increased giving. Individual giving, at ... Continue Reading
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
So often in development or advancement meetings, whether with staff or volunteers, we spend so much time outlining the optimum cultivation strategy with the perfect moves involving just the right committee members. Our Herculean efforts sometimes have the feeling of pushing the stars to align them according to our will. We think through every word ... Continue Reading
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
One of the fundamental truths of life, one of those famous lessons learned in kindergarten is that when we are stuck and just can’t seem to solve a problem, the best answer is to ask for help. The reason help from the outside is so important in problem solving comes down to one word — ... Continue Reading

#GivingTuesday 2014 Highlights

February 11, 2015
#GivingTuesday began in 2012 as a collaboration between 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. Falling on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the day is designed to promote charitable giving and to “kick-off” the holiday season. With the commercial appeal of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday positions itself as a “global day dedicated to ... Continue Reading
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
Dear friends and fellow nonprofit professionals, the following are some thoughts regarding how we can address the impact that the oil and gas price instability has on fundraising. These thoughts are intended to answer questions raised by boards and volunteers in the midst of planning or executing capital and endowment campaigns or major gift programs. ... Continue Reading

Getting Personal

October 15, 2014
One of the challenges in today’s fast-paced society is cutting through all the clutter to enrich those meaningful connections we all have – whether that’s with our clients, donors, friends or even our own families. In an age where so much communication is accomplished by text, webinars, over the phone or on the run, the ... Continue Reading

Maps Still Matter

May 16, 2014
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
In an age in which GPS is everywhere, we can travel from here to there without using a map. The fact is verbal instructions give us some information but not the whole picture. The same is true in fundraising. ... Continue Reading

More than a Site Visit

April 24, 2014
Angela Hodson, Principal
Are you fully engaging your volunteers and donors with your organization? Nothing connects you more to the mission of an organization than physically standing in the middle of it and seeing the faces of those impacted.... Continue Reading
(Deacon) Larry A. Vaclavik, Managing Principal
Often campaign steering committees, development officers and CEO’s agonize over the importance of the campaign announcement. How much should we raise before we announce?  When is too early? When is too late? How will we know the right time? Some even approach announcements as if there were an 11th Commandment revealed, “Thou shalt not announce ... Continue Reading