Big dreams require bold strategies informed by experience. Our teams of skilled consultants design the services that address your organization’s specific needs and goals. Our job is to work with you to give you superior results by strengthening programs, emboldening leaders and advancing every dimension of your nonprofit fundraising operation. 

Campaign Guidance

A Campaign Planning Study tests more than feasibility – it is a structured process for clarifying campaign objectives, establishing cost estimates, engaging potential leaders and cultivating initial donors. It is the first step into a campaign.

We start with a look at the fundamental building blocks for campaign success, analyzing an organization’s Case for Support, Volunteer Leadership, Major Gift Prospects, Systems & Staffing, Internal & External Timing. Using a combination of personal interviews with major philanthropic supporters and surveys of interested constituents, the Campaign Planning Study process is coordinated with a committee of prospective campaign leaders. We then work with these leaders to make sure you possess a transformational vision, clear plans and the philanthropic interest to successfully undertake a major fundraising initiative.

The value of this process lies in its inherent ability to uncover insights and constituent sentiments that allow us to fluidly adjust the vision or plans to generate maximum philanthropic interest in the campaign. These elements are brought together, analyzed and researched to shape a truly comprehensive plan for your proposed campaign – one that can lead to the success and results you desire. The investment in a campaign planning study is a sure way toward greater campaign results.

The conclusion of a campaign planning study may reveal there are circumstances that have to be addressed before going into the campaign. Objectives need clarification. Facility plans must be developed or adjusted. Goals must be set. There are universes of major gift prospects that require specific early cultivation. So, for the times when the work is just beginning, our campaign readiness counseling is designed to guide institutional leaders and advancement teams through the multi-faceted process of campaign preparation. True campaign readiness leads to confidence and quick action.

The first stage in campaign readiness counseling is to recruit early leaders who will help to position the organization for campaign success. Identifying the issues, from the case to systems to prospect evaluation and cultivation, our consultants will work with the leaders to position your organization for a strong campaign beginning. Being well-prepared, with resources aligned and organized for the rigorous work of campaigning, often determines how successful a campaign will be. This service is tailored to address specific readiness opportunities in each client organization.

The hallmark of Dini Spheris fundraising services is our team-based model of campaign counseling. With the combined strength of our experts in campaign strategy, major gifts, campaign operations and the dynamics of day-to-day campaign management, we support the most sophisticated advancement team or the small organization engaged in its first major capital campaign.

Throughout campaign counseling, it’s not unusual to experience a number of additional Dini Spheris services. From this singular service, elements from leadership coaching, prospect analytics or planned giving strategies are often used.

With our team-based approach, our focus is to move the campaign agenda from planning to launch to results. Dini Spheris team members understand the importance of building donor and institutional confidence, maintaining campaign discipline and creative problem-solving. From the campaign’s strategic framework to the unexpected issues, we bring fresh insights to every campaign circumstance.

Whether your objectives are new buildings, new programs or greater endowment, each Dini Spheris team has deep experience in planning, directing and implementing capital campaigns and major gift plans. Broad experience and a successful track record aid our ultimate goal of a successful campaign and more efficient organization for you.

Occasionally, you may find your institution wanting or needing full-time or some level of residential campaign management. If you desire a turnkey approach to your campaign, this service may be what you need. In these circumstances, a Dini Spheris team or team member assumes the total management of a capital or endowment campaign, dedicating themselves, onsite and from their home office to you and your goals.

Drawing from years of management experience, Dini Spheris team members can manage every detail of your campaign – from donor strategies to integration with the existing advancement operation – allowing your team to focus on the continued operation of the organization. Using today’s technologies and years of campaign experience, we become a campaign-focused extension of your own development team, committed to realizing your campaign goals.

This model provides immediate help to your institution if you find yourself without campaign management or key institutional personnel. It is an effective short-term bridge solution while institutions recruit senior professional or campaign management staff.

Strategic Planning & Organizational Effectiveness

Durable and transformational strategic visions have the power to change institutions. They elevate your program or services, enhance fundraising results and increase your organization’s impact.

Our holistic and disciplined approach to Strategic Planning is grounded in a process that combines the power of strategic vision setting with the discipline of articulating action plans and defining the metrics required to realize that vision.

The Dini Spheris process takes Strategic Planning beyond the traditional SWOT analysis and its three-year time horizon. Our experience has taught us that Strategic Planning is best accomplished through garnering the wisdom of your engaged constituents – institutional staff members, clients, volunteers, consumers and donors. Truly transformational strategic plans require an investment of time, allowing for ideas and proposals to be researched and tested before becoming fixed goals.

Too frequently, strategic plans suffer from a lack of implementation. We believe that strategic plans must lead to action, measurement and disciplined attention to goals. 

With significant expertise in the application of Strategic Planning techniques, Dini Spheris partners with your organization to design, develop and facilitate a comprehensive planning process that yields transformational results. At the end of the process, your organization will have identified your strategic priorities backed with SMART goals and metrics for success. Dini Spheris also offers the continued service of Change Management to help implement the strategic planning process.

A Development Assessment is an opportunity to examine and take stock of the effectiveness, efficiency, performance, resources and structure of your advancement office and fundraising programs; you may also have heard this referred to as a development audit. This service, conducted with the use of staff surveys, documentary review and best practice comparisons, will provide an in-depth review of critical advancement functions – from the management of your constituent relationships, staffing and philanthropic culture to your policies and back-office systems, practices and operations.

Often, Dini Spheris is asked to determine whether an institution’s advancement program is high-performing. The Development Assessment can be a particularly helpful tool for programs that are seeking to advance in professionalism – or for the already high performing, to maintain their sharp edge while producing greater gift results.

Fundraising Programs

In contrast with the traditional comprehensive or universal capital or endowment campaigns, major gift programs focus on a narrow set of sophisticated and experienced major donor prospects and a single or smaller group of strategic fundraising objectives. Requiring fewer volunteers, highly skilled solicitors and more controlled pacing, major gift programs involve a disciplined and intentional focus on those specific major gift prospects that have the capacity to impact an organization’s near-term strategic goals. Often for an organization with a vibrant culture of philanthropy, a major gift program is a more manageable model for the care, cultivation and solicitation of an organization’s most capable major donor prospects.

At the heart of transformative giving is the concept of donative intent – moving the donor to consider a life-changing or institution-changing major gift. Major gift program counseling is ultimately about fostering donative intent and helping to align the donor’s desires and interests with the objectives of the major gift program.

Major gift program counseling services focus on structuring the program for the maximum impact on major donors. Skilled institutional strategists, our senior team members shift the focus to the prospective donors and the development of the necessary donor-specific strategies. Our work is to direct this program as if it were a collection of small, but critically important individual campaigns.

A critical building block of philanthropy, one vital for institutional sustainability, is a strong, consistent and effective annual fund. Dini Spheris uses the best traditional models and latest technologies to develop the right program for your institution. From direct mail, sustaining gift programs, donor clubs and beyond, we design your program for maximum annual philanthropic impact.

Effective annual fundraising programs engage constituents while using appropriate analytic tools, always striving to establish and sustain giving histories with donors.

Key considerations in evaluating any annual fund include items as diverse as:

  • Constituency group analysis
  • Donor acquisition and retention segmentation
  • Frequency of contact/engagement with donors
  • Contact methodologies
  • Personal solicitor engagement, direct mail and social media solicitation
  • Appeal types, special events/galas and giving days
  • Sustainable giving programs for monthly donors
  • Program elements
  • Pledge payment, frequency and follow-up
  • Stewardship
  • Strategic growth and goals

With Dini Spheris, you can expect a client-centered approach that blends creative ideas with proven practices.

A powerful but often underused or underdeveloped fundraising vehicle is the planned giving program. Implemented with the right balance of discipline and donor stewardship, a planned giving program is one of the most effective ways to impact the future of organizations and their services. Often planned gifts can be 10 to 100 times larger than a donor’s annual gift or largest campaign gift. A structured planned giving program can help to make sure that the most faithful and consistent donors are able to consider and make their singularly most important gifts. Many donors fail to consider planned gift options because no one has asked them about the giving legacy that they would choose to make.

Dini Spheris will work with your team to create a meaningful and strategic planned giving program that informs donors of the opportunities to engage in legacy giving. Parallel to planned giving program counsel, Dini Spheris will analyze the opportunity for the long-term sustainability of your organization through the establishment of endowment and cash reserve strategies that can be funded in a larger part through planned gifts.

Often an overlooked audience for healthcare fundraising is those who have benefitted from the skills, knowledge and technology of a healthcare institution. For some, the experience of great bedside care, keen insights of the physicians and the healthcare team or the advantages of costly research care can translate into major giving. For others, the care for a child or an aging parent can result in a grateful patient relationship.

The Dini Spheris approach to grateful patient programs is building a sustainable base of support for annual giving, special gifts and campaign support from those who have been patients and consumers of a client’s outpatient or inpatient healthcare services.

One key to establishing or maintaining a successful grateful patient program is your organization’s ability to segment the patient population and cultivate engagement based on capacity to give. Another vital element is the involvement of the healthcare team as advocates for philanthropy and grateful patient giving.

Our grateful patient counseling services are designed to meet you where you are as an organization, whether you need help building a new program or maximizing the effectiveness of your existing programs.

One of the most frequently asked questions in today’s philanthropic market is: “Can you help us find a pool of new major gift prospects?” Institutions often purchase electronic screening services but can be overwhelmed with the amount of information they receive.

Dini Spheris can conduct wealth screening on your behalf or can work with your existing donor and prospect data to find that missing pool of major gift prospects. Because these prospective major donors may be less known by your organization, they frequently require special strategies, care and a longer-term investment for cultivation and engagement to yield the major gift results you desire.

We can help you understand these more remote prospects, how they give and how to engage them in your annual fund, capital campaign or special project. Dini Spheris can also help you identify who in this pool are the most likely candidates to make a major or planned gift. We help steward your major gift professionals, executives and volunteer leaders from the review of this data to the cultivation and realizing of major gifts.

Wealth and Giving Insights help you determine where to invest your time for the highest return on your investment when it comes to new major gift prospects.

Leadership Coaching & Staffing

Fundraising and advancement management skills are must-haves for any truly successful nonprofit institution. Having the right person in your chief development role or as your campaign director is a non-negotiable. At the same time, finding the right fit from skills to chemistry can take months or even longer. An occasional but sometimes invaluable service is that of having a Dini Spheris team member in this key role.

With major gift, annual fundraising, special event experience and the broad view of advancement services, our skilled counselors can be just the answer when you need that new team member today. These services can range from the day-to-day management of the advancement function to a half-time or part-time oversight of the advancement team. Our interim management services are developed and negotiated on a case-by-case basis as we work to match our skills with your institutional need.

Often one of the challenges facing nonprofit institutions is that of orienting, training and teaching new board members the skills needed for effective governance and fundraising. Sometimes seasoned board members need to renew their skills and could benefit from a new perspective gained through a Dini Spheris board coaching program.

More than facilitating retreats alone, this service helps boards and volunteers apply leadership principles and management skills to the core areas of nonprofit board service. This service positions key leaders and volunteers for active engagement on the board, its committees or in the midst of campaigns and special projects.

Board and volunteer coaching services are designed to address issues unique to your organization. These could include leadership transition, institutional crisis management or natural disaster preparedness or response. Skilled, prepared and knowledgeable board members and volunteers are the most effective and find their work most rewarding.

Sometimes experienced managers and executives find themselves in positions in which they are expected to be great leaders. Having the right attitude and being open to learning, wise executives look for the kinds of mentors that can help turn natural talents into genuine leadership skills. From assisting the new CEO to updating the seasoned executive, Dini Spheris enhances the strategic, executive and management perspectives of your institutional leaders – improving their effectiveness, efficiency and focus.

A trusted advisor to staff executives and managers, Dini Spheris partners with you as an advocate, sounding board, strategic resource and trainer in individualized and structured engagements. A Dini Spheris coach can help you address the issues of your first year in office or can help you to respond to your first institutional crisis – always with a goal to strengthening your skills, responsiveness and confidence in your leadership. At the end of this mentoring and training process, a confident and grounded executive is equipped to lead his or her staff and institution to achieve greater productivity and more robust results.

More than a buzzword, a philanthropic culture supports an institution’s vision for the work of fundraising and the role of philanthropy relative to the organizational mission.

Dini Spheris designs and delivers philanthropic culture coaching that considers the current institution-wide attitudes, opinions, behaviors, language and interactions with the fundraising or advancement function. Then, we engage, analyze and coach institutional executives, the board, service delivery staff and donors in order to foster and reinforce a vibrant culture of philanthropy. Our goal is to ensure that philanthropy and fundraising are seen as positive values and functions that are essential to mission delivery.

The result is an organization in which individuals and staff members alike are able to clearly articulate their mission, know what’s necessary to achieve results and work collaboratively, promoting both fundraising and the mission. We turn the perception of fundraising from an adjunct and accepted function to a critical and valued role, aligned with the fundamental mission of the organization.


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