GivingTake Blog


Time to Play Your Federal Budget Trump Card

It’s time for the nonprofit sector’s stakeholders to exert our considerable influence on the national debate in response to the Trump administration’s chilling budget blueprint.  Nonprofit organizations account for 11.4 million jobs, 10.3 percent of all private sector employment, $370 billion in charitable giving and touch the lives of every American.  Collectively and individually, stakeholders can wield significant influence on ...
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rock paper scissors

Fundraising Beyond Rock-Paper-Scissors

You may recall how disputes were resolved when we were kids using Rock-Paper-Scissors.  This is a zero-sum game to peacefully determine who will prevail when there is conflict and competition. What is great about this method is that each has its power over ONE of the others. Rock prevails over scissors. Scissors prevail over paper. Paper prevails over rock. I ...
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volunteer leadership

50 Shades of Self-Interest

First, let me state my profound respect for people who volunteer for nonprofit stakeholder organizations. Offering your time, wisdom, treasure, social networks and focus in support of a “larger than life” organizational mission will always command my admiration and should be appreciated by all. People volunteer for an array of reasons, ranging from altruism to self-interest.  All are valid motivations, ...
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Long Term Trends

The Long-Term Trend That Is Going Unnoticed – UPDATED

My original post dated August 3, 2014 entitled “The Long-Term Trend That Is Going Unnoticed” argued a number of reasons why the overall national donor pool is shrinking. The pillars of the argument addressed the Giving USA analysis showing total giving rose 3.0 percent in 2013 over the 2012 estimate, adjusted for inflation.  There was no data, however, addressing if this ...
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wicked awesome

Why 2017 will be Wicked Awesome

“Wicked awesome” is a uniquely Boston expression.  When the Red Sox won the World Series…wicked awesome.  When Whitey Bulger was captured…wicked awesome.  Before I get into why 2017 will be a wicked awesome year for many nonprofit stakeholder organizations, I want to review some studies that address how people feel and behave after they are “awed” by something. In an ...
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/ _CRI Blog Post, Emerging Ideas, Insights
feasibility study

Beware of the Feeble Feasibility Study

Not all feasibility studies are created equal.  Over the years I have reviewed feasibility studies done by other consultants so I could prepare a proposal or assume the role of counsel for a prescribed campaign goal. Too often, the studies did not address the issues that are key to campaign success, or were unable to justify the recommended goal… in ...
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Certainty in the Trumped-Up Era

You may have noticed during the presidential primaries and candidates’ debates that President-elect Trump rarely mentioned Congress.  He seemed to be operating under the premise that the presidency reigns supreme over all of government and that there would be few impediments to getting what he wanted. During the financial crises of 2008, 2009 and as we slowly regained our national ...
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/ _CRI Blog Post, Insights
Human Services

We are All in Human Services

Stakeholder organizations are often divided into different categories to help others navigate the nonprofit sector.  The categories typically include: Education, Basic Needs, Arts & Culture, Health, Religion, Youth/Family Services, Environment & Conservation, Animal Welfare, International Affairs, Policy and many others. To be sure, each of these categories addresses content with which advancement officers need to become expert to be able ...
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/ _CRI Blog Post, Emerging Ideas, Insights
marginal utility

Using “Marginal Utility” in Fundraising

It is not often that I use economic theory and principles when addressing fundraising matters...but perhaps I should more often.  The notion of "Marginal Utility" is the additional satisfaction a consumer gains from consuming one more unit of a good or service. Marginal utility is an important economic concept because economists use it to determine how much of an item a consumer will buy. ...
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/ _CRI Blog Post, Major Gifts
foundation transparency

Raising the Barr

I had the good fortune to attend a luncheon presentation at The Friday Forum* in Boston, by Jim Canales on September 23, 2016. Jim was appointed as president and trustee of the Barr Foundation in Boston in 2014 after spending two decades in a variety of roles at The James Irvine Foundation in California. The Barr Foundation, with $1.6 billion ...
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Sound Management Trumps Organizational Design

This is not a sexy topic, but it addresses a central and often minimized issue facing many advancement operations and nonprofit organizations. After many years of working with an array of organizations it is clear to me that, all things being equal, you can have the most rational and defendable organization design and yet not be successful. Or, you can ...
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construction worker hides where is Waldo

Be Smart About Capital Expansion

The recent article in The New York Times, "How the Rich Are Hurting the Museums They Fund" by Ben Davis on July 22, 2016 struck a chord with me because it addresses a common question I ask potential clients about their plans for capital expansion. The question is, once you build it, will you be able to afford to keep ...
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carrot and stick

It is Time for Large Funders to be Leaders

A recent article in the Boston Globe “Does Boston have too many nonprofits?” by Sacha Pfeiffer, addresses an often heard lament that there are too many nonprofits (stakeholder corporations) doing overlapping work. As the article points out, there are 40+ organizations dedicated to help disadvantaged students in the Boston Public School get into and graduate from college…and now there is ...
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headwinds dog

Headwinds for Public Charities

Is the job market for advancement professionals contracting?  And if so, why? It would appear from most of the available data, the number of 501(c)3 “public charities”* in the US is indeed declining. (*StakeholderCorporations) According to the Independent Sector and Urban Institute’s research:
  • More than 275,000 public charities lost their tax-exempt status in 2011 because of their failure to comply ...
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old school soda shop

Confessions of an Old Schooler

Just because I’ve been around the block a few (hundred) times does not mean “old school” guys and gals like me have been left behind by “new” thinking in the advancement field. I think experience and the wisdom that hopefully goes with it, helps to provide context for new strategies and tools, and determining what success looks like. A recent ...
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