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Executive Order for Open and Machine Readable Data

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By George Ford, Product Manager, Online Subscription Services, FC. Reprinted with permission of the Foundation Center.

Back in May, the White House issued an executive order and accompanying memorandum which stated that “the default state of new and modernized government information resources shall be open and machine readable.” For the nonprofit community, the announcement was intriguing. What would it mean if all that data on foundations and their grants were liberated from hundreds of thousands of IRS Form 990s and, for the first time, made truly open, searchable, and readable by machines? Read more

Empowered Donor-Fundraiser Relationships

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By David Langiulli, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and Princeton University philanthropic advisor, Connect-Coach-Create

Recently, Graham Coppin and I hosted a webinar with a small number of seasoned fundraisers to explore the topic of empowered relationships between donors and fundraisers: how to create and sustain them. In fundraising, we know that every donor is unique. Each has his/her own circumstances, desires and interests.

We also know that the “relationship” is as powerful (perhaps more) than either of the individuals. Often, a misconception arises in the minds of fundraisers when they start to believe that the donor has all the power (after all, they have all the money). Read more

The Power of Big Data: Why the Numbers Matter


By Jessica Sochol, Digital Content Strategist, Relationship Science

Any seasoned nonprofit fundraiser knows that recruiting and developing donor relationships requires a mix of hard and soft skills. Traditionally, the emphasis is on the soft: articulating the cause, recruiting supporters, inspiring passion and building relationships. As data about donors and marketing analytics becomes more plentiful, more minutely examined and more widely accessible, it’s no surprise that organizations are now also appreciating the importance of numbers in addition to handshakes when finding ways to increase their impact. Read more

A Gift Frequency to Area Report Can Locate Your Most Loyal Donors

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By Christopher Hubert, Assistant Director of Prospect Development, University of Virginia

It’s funny how the right question, asked at the right time, can lead to some amazing changes in how you produce research for your colleagues. In my case, it was the director of our planned giving department, Jason Chestnutt, asking me, “Is there a way to determine whether prospects have been giving to our institution for 15 years?”

As it turned out, his question was the catalyst to move forward with a question I had been stuck on for quite a while: how best to capture our repeat donors? I certainly had been to enough presentations and conferences to know that these prospects, which can be overlooked by advancement officers, are often precisely the donors who are looking to make life-changing gifts. (Source: The Supporter Journey) Jason, as it turns out, recently attended a prospect research seminar by Sarah Tedesco from DonorSearch, where he learned that… Read more

Why “How Matters” To Fundraising

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By Gil Israeli, Director of Prospect Research and Senior Writer, American Technion Society

The other day, the New York Times reported on a fairly amusing legal battle between Dov Seidman, a reknown leadership and innovation guru in the corporate world, and Chobani (with their unique yogurt straining and thickening process) over trademark rights to the expression “How Matters”.

Aside from the fact that this expression is general enough to offer even some speculation as to whether either one may have a legitimate legal claim, “How Matters” is particularly relevant to the fine points of successful fundraising. Read more

Game Theory: One Tool For Understanding Donor Motivation


By Greg Bowden, CFRE

Development professionals often say fundraising is both an art and a science. Allowing for a blend of some art and some science leaves a lot of room for interpretation. There are no magic proportions of art and science in order to succeed. I might adjust my blend multiple times during my career, during a campaign, or even within a single cycle with a donor.

Major gifts require emotional commitments. It is difficult—even unfair—to reduce those gifts to equations and statistics. But there is also a great deal of experiential knowledge about fundraising, particularly in the realms of economics and statistics that can guide our activities. We ignore that science at our peril… Read more

Analytics: A Cadenced Strategy

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By Carol Belair, Senior Consultant, Target Analytics at Blackbaud

Over the past 19 ½ years, I have worked with thousands of nonprofit clients to recommend strategies for implementing predictive analytics projects and to help them identify specific types of prospective donors. My colleagues and I tremendously enjoy what we do, and have had many clients report tremendous success with our recommendations. One could say that we have made some interesting observations from our clients’ feedback and I believe that one of the most prevalent observations is that clients often feel a sense of “information overload,” or possibly “analysis paralysis,” when they first start working with analytics data. Read more

How to Be Heard by Foundations Not Accepting Unsolicited Proposals

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Originally posted by George Ford for Foundation Center’s Eye On FDO blog.
(Reprinted with permission of the Foundation Center.)

The question of how to attract the attention of foundations that give only to pre-selected organizations (by some estimates, this is as many as 60 percent of all foundations) is a vexing one, and one that we hear frequently from our FDO users, library visitors, and other constituents. Personally, I hear from many FDO users who simply click the “Exclude grantmakers not accepting applications” checkbox on their searches and never see other prospects. It’s an understandable choice – why sift through record after record of funders who are indicating that they don’t want to hear from you? – but it can limit your possibilities. Read more

Grant Seeking? Upping your Odds of Funding

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By Tracy Kaufman, Program Associate, Foundation Center

Working in the Foundation Center’s busy New York library, we see dozens of scrappy, ambitious nonprofits pass through our doors every day in search of their next grant (or in some cases, their very first grant). The first step through which we typically guide these organizations is pinpointing some specific funders who may have an interest in their cause, whether it’s healthcare, the environment, performing arts, or what have you. However, finding a list of prospective funders is just the first step. When choosing who to approach and how to approach them, there are certain strategies that can help push your application toward the top of the pile. Read on for some of the best ways you can boost your chances of getting funded. Read more

Politics, the Ask and Prospect Research

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By Greg Alcock, Nonprofit Management and Fundraising Executive

Many of us have been taught to politely avoid discussing politics with anyone other than our closest acquaintances. Perhaps the only topics considered more socially taboo would include chatting about personal finances or postmortem legacies with a virtual stranger over dinner. Given that fundraisers regularly break these conventional boundaries, we are either among the most socially inept people on the planet or… Read more