Better Branding = Fundraising Impact

by Richard Tollefson

Two simple questions lie at the heart of a nonprofit’s branding and marketing efforts: Who? and Why? Who is the nonprofit helping, and why? “Organizations often forget what they’re really about,” says Russ Haan, founder of Phoenix-based Charles Russell, a visual storytelling consultancy. Knowing that answer, he says, is the essence of a strong brand… [More]

Who Manages the Endowment? 

by Deborah Whitehurst

Though they are only one part of a nonprofit’s cash equation, endowments provide a predictable source of income and may be a lifeline during economic downturns. They allow nonprofit entities to produce income as well as growth. But who should manage the assets in an endowment? It might seem a single executive or executives seated… [More]

Powerful Strategic Planning 

by Deborah Whitehurst 

Annually — or every three to five years — nonprofit board members gear up for strategic planning retreats, assessing the organization’s performance over the previous year or tackling long-term planning. Some view strategic planning as nothing more than a label: Yes. We have a strategic plan. Check. Others see such planning as a waste of… [More]

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

by Peter Smits and Richard Tollefson

Ask five different executives sitting on nonprofit boards to define “culture of philanthropy,” and five different definitions will rise to the top. Board members may also differ in their opinion of the role they should play in building a culture of engagement and philanthropy within their nonprofit. Clarity on these two points is essential, however;… [More]

The Value of Values-Based Hiring

by Brian Mohr and Richard Tollefson 

It happens all the time: A candidate with impeccable credentials steps up to a nonprofit leadership position only to step down within a year or so. But why? And why so often? A number of reasons could be at play — expectations aren’t being met (by employee or employer), co-workers’ work styles clash, the workload… [More]

Outside Help

by Julie Iacobelli

There are plenty of reasons why nonprofit organizations seek the expertise of consulting firms. They may face financial uncertainty, a major fundraising campaign, an extended project or leadership changes that would benefit from a third party’s professional insight. Additionally, they may seek counsel during program or organizational expansion to help identify and align new opportunities.… [More]

Coaching for Fundraising Success

by Richard Tollefson

Though they possess innate fundraising instincts and a passion for their nonprofit missions, Kristin Priscella and Annet Ruiter admit they weren’t necessarily born fundraisers. Priscella, Arizona Science Center’s chief operating officer for external affairs, started within her organization in a marketing capacity. Ruiter, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona Inc. and Planned… [More]

The Value of Professional Interim Management

by Cassandra Larsen and Deborah Whitehurst

Nonprofits that have lost a leader — to retirement, a career move, or even termination — often feel an urgency to find an immediate replacement. This is, in many cases, a misguided strategy, says Linda Lyman, nonprofit consultant and retired president and CEO of New Pathways for Youth. “For a board that is feeling pressured… [More]

The Importance of Market Research 

by Richard Tollefson

It’s no secret that corporations reap great dividends by conducting market research. They use facts and figures and focus-group results to develop products, explore new markets, test messaging and establish brand positioning. Nonprofits, however, haven’t typically been as quick to embrace market research, often relying instead on tradition, assumption, staff experience and “feel.” Myra Garcia,… [More]

No More Fundraising Excuses

by Richard Tollefson

It is official. Philanthropic giving in the United States is not only on the rebound, it has fully recovered since the recession, marking the highest levels of giving in the country’s history. Yes, even despite weak and uneven economic recovery. According to the Giving USA 2015 report, charitable giving has risen 7.1 percent over the… [More]