Guest Post: What Can Starbucks Teach Us About Fundraising?


What can Starbucks teach us about (1)

Today as I got my morning cappuccino, I noticed Starbucks is running a huge promotion – centred on buying beans, K-cups, syrups, cups and taking the Starbucks experience home.

Why would they do this? Isn’t the whole concept of drinking coffee at home Starbucks’ competition? Don’t they want me in their stores?

It’s because Starbucks has figured out something many charities haven’t tapped into yet: When you like something, you like doing it in different ways, and at different times.

I love going to Starbucks in the morning. I love chatting with the barista about my day as I grab my cappuccino. But I also love a cup of coffee in the office, a quick K-cup jolt in between staff meetings. I love a cup of decaf at 8 pm, enjoyed in my pajamas, on my couch. Having options makes me drink more coffee, not less.

If Starbucks was run like a charity, this promotion might not have happened. The director of In-Store Sales would be at the throat of the Director of K-Cup sales. “Those are MY customers, they come in the store every day – they get to know the baristas! It’s about relationships! K-Cups are a dumb fad you millennial idiot”… “No! In-store sales are dead! Convenience is the thing! K-Cups are the way of the future! MY customers want convenience, you dinosaur.”

As funny as that is, it is a sad reality for many charities – with annual giving, events, major gifts and planned giving all fighting over donors. “You can’t talk to event participants about monthly giving!” “Hey planned giving, back off my mid-level donors, you’re making them uncomfortable.” “Get out of here major gifts, no one invited you, you glory hog.”

It makes me sick.

When did we start thinking of this as a competition?

When did we become so entitled?

When did we start thinking we owned our donors? Like they are our property?

They are not YOUR donors, you are THEIR charity.

That means you have a responsibility to put aside the egos and the silos, and do what is best for the DONOR. You need to trust each other enough to help one another, and to make smart decisions about how to offer your donor the chance to give and be involved in all the ways THEY choose.

Because if your donors love your cause – the way I love coffee – they are going to choose to give in different ways, at different times and in different amounts.  Good customer service means you make sure those options and choices are there – when THEY want them.

Do you want to:

  • Understand how to overcome internal silos within your own organizations
  • See how four different organizations are leading the way in breaking down silos, driving integration, and thinking differently about their fundraising programs
  • Learn different strategies that you can incorporate into your own work to help address silo challenges in your own organizations

Then sign up for this webinar today: Breaking Down Silos: Great Ideas that Drive Integration & Results!

Out of the box creative is more than just a crazy concept from your Creative Director – creative innovation can help you connect with new audiences, help cement your relationships with the donors you already have and drive increased results. See how informed strategy and inspiring creative helps you to innovate and truly integrate channels and messages that resonate with your target audiences. See how you can break down internal silos and drive results for your own organization!

Seats are limited! SIGN UP NOW!

This post originally appeared on the GoodWorks Co Blog.


Written by Rory Green



Rory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:




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Guest Post: 3 Things Every Fundraiser Should Know About Planned Giving

3 things every #fundraiser should know

  1. 1.5 Million Canadians have left a gift to a charity in their will. Planned giving is growing as a more and more accepted and celebrated way for donors to make a difference in the causes they care about.
  2. Bequest giving is one of the biggest revenue growth opportunities in today’s philanthropic market! In the U.S., only 22 percent of people over the age of 30 reportedly say they have been asked to leave a gift in their will. The numbers are similar in Canada! Not enough charities are talking to their donors about planned giving.
  3. You don’t have to be rich to make a big impact with a planned gift! Many large planned gift donations can come from donors who don’t have the capacity to make a major gift while they are alive. Your annual donors are a great place to uncover transformational planned gifts.

If you really care about your cause, and your donor’s desire to make a lasting impact in your work, then you need to make sure you are talking to them about planned giving.

But how?

Well, that’s exactly what Fraser Green is going to tell you in his upcoming webinar: 32 Proven Legacy Gift Persuasion Tips. This webinar is all about planned giving secrets to raise more money.

Fraser Green has been exploring the mind of the legacy donor since 2003. He knows how they give. He knows when they give. And – most importantly – he knows WHY they give. And now he’s going to share his best tips with you.

In just one hour, Fraser will share 32 practical tips that will allow you to say the right things the right ways to persuade your donors to leave you gifts in their wills. If you miss this webinar, you’re leaving money on the table!

Sign up today to take advantage of this special deal! Only $24.99!

Register here:


Written by Rory Green



Rory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:




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Guest Post: What is “loverizing”?

what is loverizing-

Loverizing means reflecting on the emotional journey between you and your beloved. Yes, your donors!

What was that first meeting of your new love like? Was it flowers and chocolate? Intense conversations about the things that mean the most to you both?

What happened next?

During the second and third dates—what stories did you share? Did she stare deeply in your eyes and nod along and share her own angst, frustration, desire to help out—or did she check her Facebook?

When was the last time you brought her flowers? Just because…

When is it time to go steady? What signs does she give you that she is ready for a longer commitment?

As time passes, does it seem like the love and respect you have for one another grow and go deeper? How do you know that you share the same core, personal values?

Are you ready to take the walk down the aisle and spend the rest of your days together—‘til death do you part?

Are you still following along?

Good donor care is a romance, a courtship. It is a conversation, a dialogue.

Folks, this is no longer about ROI, process and report writing.

Loving your donors is a lot like loving the other humans in your life. It takes time, respect, surprise and delight, adventure and love.

Hopefully you can join us, Agent John and Agent Jen, on May 13th, to talk about “loverizing” your donors. We will discuss the 6 key principles of donor love, with a specific activity you can use right now to put it into action. And then we’ll share integrated campaigns that you can steal today to raise more money tomorrow.

Hope you can join us, Lovers! Click here to register for the webinar – How to Loverize your Donors with Direct Response: Secrets to Boost your Revenue.


Written by John Lepp & Jen Love

John and Jen are the Agents of Good.

Connect with John & Jen via:
@johnlepp | @agentjenlove | Web


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Guest Post: Five Must-Haves for Online Fundraising Success

Almost every nonprofit organization has embraced the Internet to help spread awareness for their cause, gain supporters, and raise money through online donations. When looking at the online fundraising campaigns that achieve the greatest success, they seem to include five critical elements.

  1. Enhance Digital Efforts & Go Mobile
    People are spending a greater amount of time online each year. In fact, over 11 billion searches are conducted each month on Google alone. Just like any business with an online presence, your organization not only needs a website, but it should include some important elements: simple, clear messaging, easy navigation, and, with more than 80% of internet users also using a smart phone, mobile optimization is key. By using fundraising software, such as DoJiggy, you can easily build a mobile-optimized fundraising website to manage all details for your fundraising event including: registration & ticket sales, collecting online donations, progress tracking and reporting.
  2. Pay More Attention to Social Media
    Today more than 55% of Americans have social media profiles presenting a unique opportunity for the non-profit sector. Social media gives nonprofits an easy way to reach out to their donors, build and nurture relationships, and communicate news and updates. Facebook and Twitter are staples in the non-profit world. But remember it’s not just being present…it’s engaging. Don’t just post about your own charity, but find other organizations doing similar things and help them spread the word – retweet, share their posts, and chances are they’ll return the favor. Don’t forget about other networks that are rapidly growing, like Instagram and Pinterest which give you a unique opportunity to share visual imagery and attract more people to your cause. LinkedIn and Google Plus are also great ways to connect with other communities and talk to your peers.

  3. Communication Tactics to Engage with Different Generations
    When thinking about communication efforts, be sure to consider how your message will reach different generations. Some older donors may prefer letters sent in the mail, email newsletter updates, or personal phone calls. Keep in mind that in just a few short years, Millennials will make up the largest portion of the workforce, thus controlling a large portion of funds, and therefore will be critical to your fundraising success.  This generation relies heavily on the information they find on the Internet. They engage via social channels so be sure to have a presence here and give them the tools they need to share. They also look for organizations to be open and transparent, so including testimonials could be a nice tactic.pic2
  4. Free Online Resources for Participants
    In this day and age where information is so accessible, people are always looking online for help. By offering helpful fundraising resources to your supporters, you not only show them you care, but you can actually help them perform better – which results in greater success for your charity. Offer fundraising check-lists and timelines to help them plan. Offer tips for soliciting donations or sample donation request letters. Post short videos that explain more about the cause and give them sample pitches to use so they are prepared when they seek donations. You can even offer some stock images for people to use in their social posts or sample “tweets” for them to simply copy and paste when sharing your message.
  5. Analyze Metrics & Make Improvements
    Evaluation has always been an important part of any fundraising campaign. Yet, finding actual statistics used to be much more of a challenge. People distributed surveys or estimated attendance for events. Today data is easier to come by than ever before. Using tracking and analytics tools, like those included with DoJiggy’s fundraising software, allow your organization to better understand your donors and the results of your fundraising efforts. Did more donations come in from email campaigns, social sharing, from sponsor sites or blog posts? You can also use data to find out what your prospects are interested in. By looking at Social media, you can see which posts get the most engagement, likes, and clicks. Use this information to help with your future branding and messaging.


Written by Kari Kiel

Kari Kiel is the Marketing Director at DoJiggy – a company that’s been providing affordable, easy-to-use online fundraising software solutions for nonprofits, schools, churches & community organizations for more than a decade.



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The 5 Most Interesting Things I Learned on Day 1 of #AGCongress14


the 5 most interesting things I learned on day 1 of #AGCongress14

Ideally I would save this blog post for next week, but my sanity relies on routine, so I’ll stick with my regularly scheduled “every other Friday at 10:00 a.m.”.

What’s today’s post about? Well, right at this very moment I am in a session called “Picasso & Edison: Learn how to be both an artist and scientist in today’s fundraising world”, led by Samantha Laprade, CFRE (a.k.a. @GryphonReport). No, I am not blogging in front of her rather than paying attention to her session! I am writing this post from the comfort of my hotel room in Toronto on Thursday at 5:00 pm. I have just attended Day 1 of the 2014 Canadian Higher Education Annual Giving Congress in Toronto a.k.a. #AGCongress14. Yes, it’s me and dozens of other Annual Giving nerds talking about what we do and how we can be excellent at it. I’m in heaven!

So on that note, today’s post is the five most interesting things I learned yesterday on Day 1 of Congress. Here goes…

  1. STOP! Be stupidly creative. The very inspiring Joel Faflak of Western University started the day off by telling us to stop doing what you’re doing and do something mindlessly creative. Draw, see a musical, do something! Our creativity is being threatened by the business of our every day work, but we can’t stop cultivating it.
  2. Don’t solicit young alumni with the traditional academic segmentation. My friend Ryan Brejak of the University of Guelph (and a guest blogger for this site) delivered a great session on young alumni giving and stressed that millennials need to be segmented differently rather than by their faculty. Segment them by the non-academic affinities they have.
  3. Why would they care? I attended a panel about “How to Write for Development” and asked them what’s more important in a fundraising letter, to emphasize need or success. Chuck Chan of University of Toronto replied that it’s most important to focus on why the reader would care about this. Would they care about a dilapidated building, or would they care about what’s going to happen in a new one?
  4. There are three types of donors. I attended my mentor Paul Nazareth‘s session about planned giving and he outlined three types of donors: (1) the DNA donor, where giving is in their DNA, and so is your organization; (2) the academic, who values your institution because of how they turned what they learned into success; (3) and the trouble makers and weirdos who had a great time at your institution who will give back because of their experiences.
  5. Everyone should be an annual fund prospect all the time. The last session of the day was led by two fundraising powerhouses: Lorna SomersBob Burdenski. They talked about the worlds of major giving and annual giving colliding, and Lorna stressed that major gift prospects/donors should never be taken out of annual solicitations. They should always receive the calls, direct mailings, etc. and major gifts should “opt out” of this if really necessary, whereas the default will be that they’re solicited annually.

What a great day Day 1 was. I bet I’m already energized by Day 2 and it’s only 10:00 a.m.


Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

A shocking concept!

You know what I hate? When every other Friday comes along (that’s when I post on here) and I have no clue what I’m going to write.

You know what I love? When every other Friday comes along and I have one awesome post ready to go, and then something happens and I schedule that post for later and write another even more awesome post. That’s what happened this week, and I hope this energizes you like it energizes me.

This week I got to have a beer with John Lepp. John Lepp is awesome! John is a Partner at Agents of Good. Please check out his Twitter and the company’s website. The work they do is so inspiring!

Last week I had a coffee with Paul Nazareth. I think you already know how awesome I think Paul is. Anyway, when I met with Paul, he mentioned John, and I said, “Funnily enough I have a beer scheduled with John next week!” Paul was delighted to hear it, and referred to John as a “disruptive leader”. That made me even more excited for some one-on-one time with John.

So John and I met at a half-way point between where we both live, and we started talking shop, of course. John’s expertise is in direct mail, so we talked a lot about that. He shared the truth, which is that every single organization is doing the same thing. We talked about that for a while, and then I commented that somehow I didn’t find that discouraging, but the opposite – encouraging. John agreed and said it was exciting! It means it’s not hard to surprise people with something different.

So I said, “John, what can we do? If you could distill your knowledge and insight down to a few actions, what are they?” John replied with a number of things, but one of them stood out the most for me. Hold onto your seats, because this is going to come as a bit of a shock:

Call your donors.

Get on the phone, call them, and see how they’re doing. It doesn’t have to be an ask, it’s not even really a thank you call – though we should take every opportunity to say thank you, I think – it’s just a personal, meaningful check-in.

When I worked at the Annual Giving Call Centre, even the longest calls barely took five minutes. John gave me a soft challenge of spending one hour a week calling donors.

Here’s the thing, and this is a shameful secret of mine: I hate making phone callsThis is a personal and professional challenge. I’m great at communicating via email, I feel confident and comfortable in person, but the thought of getting on the phone is just… I don’t like it.

One of my mentors – not John or Paul, though they’re both now on my personal Board of Directors (great blog post about that concept from Paul here) – reminded me recently that the way to get comfortable with something is to do it repeatedly.

So here’s my personal challenge, and please take the challenge yourself, too, if you need to: Call donors. For one hour a week. I find making my challenges public always gives me the extra drive to achieve them, so I will. I can’t wait to share the results!


Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Blog: O+A+C = Success in Monthly Giving

Howdy! I’m Philip. I’m a fundraiser working for an agency that is partnered with social service agencies from Victoria to Halifax and everywhere in between.

I’m grateful to Maeve for inviting to me post here on What Gives Philanthropy. I’ve written this post with homeless shelters and food banks in mind—mostly because that’s my space these days. Regardless of your vertical, I hope you find value in this post.

Everything is awesome!

Many of my partners are in the process of launching or revamping monthly giving programs. That’s awesome! I’m so pleased that nonprofits from coast to coast are looking to bolster revenue through monthly giving. But before you dive in head first, let’s look at the basic strategic underpinnings of successful monthly giving programs:

  • Offer
  • Audience
  • Creative (or approach)


Many nonprofits believe monthly donors are savvy, right-brained decision makers. This may be true of some donors, but certainly not for all donors. The fact is your top monthly giving prospects will be plucked from your single gift program. These donors feel a connection to your fundraising offers of food, meals, and shelter—they’ve demonstrated a desire to support basic needs.

The best monthly giving offers are those that are scalable, can be upsold, and inspire a deeper connection to your mission. At the core of an inspiring offer is the promise that donors will have greater impact in changing lives for the better.

Today, many nonprofits sell their monthly giving programs using two offers:

  1. Monthly giving is convenient. You (the donor) will never have to write another cheque, or
  2. Monthly giving will reduce (or eliminate) those annoying and frequent solicitations you get from us.

Here’s what’s problematic with those offers: the former is focused on payment frequency and the latter is focused on reducing intrusions. Neither offer is scalable or emotionally moving. Do they work? Yes, sometimes. Are they best practice? Absolutely not.

If your single gift donor file was built on offers to feed, shelter, and otherwise care for hurting, needy people, then you need to think about how your monthly giving program can extend those basic needs offers.

In Jeff Brooks’ latest book (a must read for all fundraisers… Seriously, read it. You can borrow my copy), he posits Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs should be flipped upside down for the purposes of fundraising. In other words, our most basic physiological needs make the best fundraising offers! These needs include: shelter, water, food, and sleep to name a few. Brooks says, “It’s no coincidence that the strongest performing fundraising offers are the most basic. Because our emotions, even though they feel complex, poetic, even spiritual, are tightly connected with survival things like food and shelter—and relationship issues, which are also about survival when you get down to it.”

How can this be applied to your nonprofit?

Test, test, test! Test two or three offers to determine the strongest resonance with donors. Use telephone outreach to get a gauge quickly. Here are three examples for a homeless shelter:

  • Provide hot, nutritious meals to the homeless: your gift of $29.70 each month will provide ten meals to our homeless neighbours in Toronto.
  • Provide hot, nutritious meals plus service X: your gift of $40 each month will provide ten meals and access to emergency shelter to our homeless neighbours in Toronto.
  • Respond to urgent needs: your gift of $X each month will help us respond to the needs of our homeless neighbours. Your gift will provide emergency shelter during extreme weather warnings, expanded drop-in hours, emergency food bank purchases for difficult-to-stock items like milk and peanut butter, etc.

In all three examples the offers can be scaled (e.g.: be it adding on to provide counseling, vocational training, addictions recovery, etc.) upsold (e.g.: for an additional $Y each month, you can help Z more people), and have an emotional resonance that will connect with donors en masse.

Successful monthly giving programs sell solutions that address basic needs because that’s what people relate to, that’s what they understand.


Donor segments

Traditionally, nonprofits with robust single gift programs seeking to grow monthly giving look to existing frequent single gift donors. These donors have:

  • Donated three or more times in the past 90 days
  • Donated four or more times in the past year
  • History of giving using their credit card or some other EFT like PayPal or through their online banking website

More nonprofits are looking to convert recently acquired single gift donors to monthly giving. Conversion of these donors, following a solid welcome strategy, solidifies second gift conversion and shortens the payback period for the single gift acquisition program.

Ask amount

There are two schools of thought…

  1. Look to past annual giving trends for each individual. If a donor’s annual giving exceeds $400, a $29.70 monthly ask amount would downgrade their giving. The offer to each donor should, at the very least, be a same grade. The challenge here is: conversion to monthly giving with an upgrade can yield fewer responses. Generally, fewer donors commit to a $50 per month ask versus a $15 or $20 per month ask.
  2. Ignore past annual giving trends temporarily to focus on conversion. In this approach nonprofits go the route of presenting a low initial ask (e.g.: $15 or $20 per month). Despite the downgrading of annual giving, the strategy here is to merely convert single gift donors to the monthly giving program. Many nonprofits have come to realize these donors can be easily and quickly upsold under the banner of increased impact. Critical to this strategy is a nonprofit’s commitment to upgrading these donors within six to eight months—this is, of course, in addition to the quarterly single gift appeals they should receive.

How can this be applied to your nonprofit?

Test, test, test! There I go again. Like most things in fundraising, the best way to learn what works with your unique donor file is to test. I recommend a beta test monthly giving conversion campaign over two to four weeks. The learning objectives of the test are:

  • What donor segment has the best conversion rate: existing donors or new donors?
  • Does payment type affect response? For example: would credit card preferred donors convert better than cheque preferred donors?
  • What offer and ask amount will yield the highest response?

You can ensure the growth of your monthly giving program through the lessons learned during the testing phase. It’s meant to help you avoid false starts and to quickly determine a winning strategy.


Oh boy, I may get in trouble for this, but here goes… Creative is important, but fancy creative alone doesn’t win hearts and wallets. Your creative strategy for monthly giving (frankly for everything in fundraising) needs to be centred on making your donors the heroes/heroines of change. Giving societies (circles, or groups) are not, in and of themselves, persuasive offers. Selling benefits, for example: reduced mail volume, invitations to special events, and premiums (e.g.: a t-shirt) are not inspiring.

The best creative tells an emotional story of one person’s need(s), spotlights a solution, and asks the donor to help right away.

How can this be applied to your nonprofit?

Your monthly giving program creative needs to:

  • Have a clear need (e.g.: homeless people are hungry)
  • Present a manageable and realistic solution (e.g.: you can help us provide meals to X people for $Y each month)
  • Feature a compelling call to action. Do this by communicating a degree of urgency, yet positioning the donor as powerful in addressing the need. Think of your organization as the conduit to change and donors’ financial sacrifices as the sparks of change.

Now, get cracking! There’s work to be done!


Written by Philip Tome


A direct marketer since 2002, Philip has worked in fundraising for the past 10 years. Philip Tomé is an Account Director with Russ Reid, North America’s leading direct response agency serving nonprofits. During the past four years, Philip has helped nonprofits across Canada raise more than $60M and acquire 200,000 high-value donors.

Connect with Philip via:


Giving Societies… What Gives?!

I am in program analysis / program planning mode for my Leadership Giving program in my new role, and with that comes a lot of thought and reflection… what is a leadership gift? What makes someone a leadership donor? What needs to happen in order for me to consider moving a donor into major gift territory?  I find the process energizing and exciting, but it brings up some tough questions.  One of those tough questions is:

Do donors care about giving societies???

As I plan the year ahead for the Leadership Giving program, I’m considering whether it would be effective to create a concrete leadership-level giving society.  The thing that makes this consideration tough is whether giving societies only mean something internally and the donor doesn’t really care.  Would a giving society strengthen a culture of philanthropy?  Would donors who make it in the society care, and really identify as part of that society?  Would a society make someone stretch their giving to a new level so that they can be part of something?

When giving societies are effective (because sometimes they really are), why are they effective?  Is it when they’re really established and have been around a while?  Is it when being at a certain level means certain perks, like invitations to events and/or some kind of tangible benefit like a pin or a special name tag?  Does the giving society have to equal some kind of prestige?

If a giving society has to be well-established in order to mean something, then is it in our best interest to start them if it will take such a long time to establish them?  Will it be worth the time and resources to push on until, say, the 20-year mark where it starts to mean something?

Or do people care about these things any more? Do giving societies promote giving and/or a culture of philanthropy, or do we just like to think they do? Do we like it internally because we have an easy way to refer to certain levels or giving and certain donors?

Regardless of all this, can we still refer to a group in a specific way in mailings? For example, whether there’s a society or not, can I refer to my donors as leadership donors in a direct mail piece? If they don’t already identify with that label and there’s no concrete giving society, can I still use it to give them a sense of their being special?


What do you think??? Are giving societies worth our time and thought?


Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

On the hunt for fundraising priorities

I haven’t written my own blog post since I started my new job at Wilfrid Laurier University!  I’ve been lucky to have three amazing guest bloggers fill in for me over the past… nearly two months!  Wow.  It worked out well though because I’ve had my plate full with learning the ropes of a new position at a new organization.  Plus, one of the things I love about is the range of voices that you get to hear from.  Philanthropy and fundraising can be such personal experiences, and so I’ll always emphasize the need for guest bloggers!

That being said, I’m excited to have this opportunity to reflect on my experience so far at Laurier.  As I think I’ve mentioned, my position is in Annual Giving, and my portfolio focuses on what we call Leadership Giving at Laurier.  It’s sort of the area that sits between the average annual gift and major gifts, which at Laurier start at $25,000.  We’ve got these amazingly committed donors who might be giving $1,000 a year, which is such a generous contribution, and so my role is to give them a little more dedicated attention.  Perhaps they’ve only ever given in response to direct mail appeals, so I get to meet with them in person, thank them for their giving, hear their story, and sometimes find ways for them to become even more engaged in the life of the institution… maybe through alumni programming, maybe through a new giving opportunity like a scholarship, or maybe just the personal touch of meeting with someone (me!) on an annual basis.  It’s a great position to be in!

However, something funny happened about 4-6 weeks into my position: I realized I wasn’t fully-equipped to speak to Laurier’s priorities.  I’m an alumna of this institution, I worked for 3.5 years when I was a student in the Annual Giving Call Centre, and I was on the Alumni Association for 2.5 years between graduation and returning to work at this wonderful university.  I would’ve thought I was perfectly equipped to speak to the university’s priorities, but I realized I just didn’t have a handle on them like I wanted to.  On top of that, unlike our major gift officers, who each focus on a specific faculty/department, I have to speak about all the faculties to some degree or another.  Of course, not in great detail, but I just really wanted to have my finger on the pulse of the high-level priorities to a greater degree than I did… which was not really at all.

So, I pulled up my socks and booked meetings with all of the major gift officers in our office, and I’m in the process of sitting down with them all to discuss their faculties’ priorities.  My approach has been to learn about the big updates and priorities so that I have an exciting story to tell, but also to find out specific opportunities that would be in my prospects’ capacities, too.  So far the exercise has been great, and cultivating strong relationships with the MGOs is never a bad thing, because I have no doubt they will be great supports to me moving forward.

So there you have it!  Things are off to a great start, and as each day goes by, I’m feeling more confident and capable in my role.  Most importantly, I’m loving it!  Fundraising for my alma mater is truly a dream come true!


Written by Maeve Strathy

Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: This Valentine’s Day, I <3 My Job!

Welcome to my WGP debut as a guest blogger! For today’s post, and in the spirit of V-Day, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to jump on the love train with… a fundraising love-fest!

If you have ever dabbled with the thought of pursuing a career in fundraising, or even volunteering in a fundraising capacity for a cause that is important to you, I’m going to highlight some of the wonders and glories that await you should you decide to test the waters.

i love my job

Here are 3 reasons why I think fundraising rocks:

(1) Meeting awesome people. So often in the working world, exchanges between people are brief, to-the-point and business-oriented. While there’s certainly some of that involved in fundraising, you often get the chance to delve a little deeper into the souls of inspiring people and talk about the interesting parts of their lives; namely, their passions, what they truly care about and really, what makes them human. You get to ask thought-provoking questions like “if money were no object, how would you contribute to a cause you feel strongly about?” You get to form relationships with people who care about specific issues (often the same ones that you do) and who want to do more than the status quo, and it’s awesome! If you’re really lucky, they might even introduce you to some more awesome people.

(2) Thanking. You get to say “thank you” a lot as a fundraiser, which is always a warm and fuzzy feeling. Whether you pick up the phone to thank someone for a recent gift they made, hand-write (yes, HAND-write) a card following a donor meeting, or you drop your donor off a coffee while you’re in their area, stewardship and simply saying “thanks” is an important part of your role as a fundraiser. Sometimes you might be saying thank you for a large gift which could mean great things for your organization, but some of the best thanks I’ve given have been to donors who made gifts of $200 or even $50, which may have been a stretch for them, but they believe so deeply in the cause that they are happy to give what they can. They might even be apologetic that it’s “not much” – and those are the sweetest people to thank. Part of my current role is actually dedicated to thanking people. How cool is that? Also, thank you cards are really fun to buy.

cute photo(3) Making a difference.  When you’re fundraising and advocating for a cause that will help to (insert impact here), you are helping to open the door for those who have the ability to make a significant difference.  Often times this is monetary by way of large gifts that allow charities the resources to carry out their work, but this can also mean tapping into peoples’ networks and getting connected to others who may also be capable of larger-scale contributions. The point is that there are generous people out there, but they may or may not even know how to contribute towards the greater good of the causes they’re passionate about… and that’s where you come swooping in to facilitate that act of giving, therefore making a difference! Doesn’t that feel good?

Generally, we’re not born with the “when I grow up I want to be a fundraiser” instinct. We’re introduced to the industry in a variety of ways such as starting in a call centre (holla!) and before you know it, you can’t stop and you won’t stop.

I don’t agree with the old-time quote “those who can’t do, teach” but it makes me think of how I feel about those with a burning passion for a cause…”those with passion, fundraise.” If you feel so strongly about a certain cause to the point that you feel a commitment to be the advocate for the change you want to see, and you’re a likeable enough human, consider fundraising! It can be a most rewarding career, and you get to meet some amazing people along the journey.

Fundraisers… what are some of the reasons you enjoy your job???

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Written by Brittney Dudar



Brittney is currently an Alumni Advancement Manger at the University of Guelph where she manages the annual giving call centre and parent program. Formerly a paid search specialist at Search Engine People, Brittney is a Google Adwords certified marketer and is passionate about digital media. Brittney is also a lover of music, fashion, travel and philanthropy!

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