The Power of YOU at Shoreline Rotary

football coach

Since your job as a fundraising professional is often hectic and overwhelming, I thought you would be encouraged by a recent talk I gave to the Shoreline Rotary Club about how to move yourself to positive action and outcomes.

My work at Better Fundraising has allowed me to be a high school football coach for the past 24 years. The members of this particular Rotary Club know me as “Coach Shap.”

The group brought me in to talk since they were looking for a little “team motivation” before they set out to fulfill summer work projects in the community. I organized my talk around the three different kinds of power each of us has in our lives that can motivate positive action and produce great personal and professional results.

Here is a summary of what I shared.

The power of choice

We make choices every day that impact the outcomes and results of our day. We can choose to get out of bed on time or to be early to the next scheduled business meeting. We can choose to be kind to our spouse after a mistake has been made around the house, or give grace to our kids after a poor choice was made. The power of choice truly can drive results, actions, and our ultimately shape our perspective on life. Let’s choose to be positive and encouraging to the people we care about the most.

The power of people

I believe we become whom we surround ourselves with. If we choose to hang out with people that are positive and make good choices, they will have a positive influence on us. If we choose to hang out with negative people or friends that make poor choices, we eventually will get caught up in their way of thinking or in negative circumstances. My hope for you is that you can surround yourself with people that build you up and encourage you to be the best you that you can be.

The power of self-talk

The last area that I believe can truly make a difference in your attitude and performance is the power of self-talk. We tend to be our hardest critic. Most of us walk though our daily lives replaying in our mind self-talk that is negative and hurtful: “I’m not smart enough, strong enough, sharp enough, professional enough,” and the list goes on. The best thing you can do today to turn your day around is to fill your self-talk with positive comments. Be like the childhood story of the little engine that could. If you think you, can you will. If you think you can’t, you wont. It is that simple.

I hope these thoughts encourage you to take on the day with fervor and energy. You truly can make it a great day; it just comes down to how you choose to live your life.

Now go out into the world and choose to make it a great day!

Why Does “Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat” Work?


I recently received an email from a woman I met at a conference I spoke at. She ended her email with this comment; “Because of your knowledge I have been kickin’ a** fundraising and will only get better as we make more money, add more staff, and implement more of your plan!”

Reading this made me ask myself, ‘Why does Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat work so well?’ Here are just some of the reasons . . .

  1. Fundraising is not a talent issue, it is a knowledge issue. The fundraising fundamentals I teach can be learned by most anyone. The key is they must have the willingness to learn.
  2. Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat puts the donor at the center of the fundraising conversation. The system honors the donor, their stewardship decisions and gives them the credit for making the world a better place because of their donation.
  3. You will communicate more often to your donors when using Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat. The system requires you to Ask with clarity, Thank promptly and Report back emotionally. Doing these things means you’ll communicate to your donors more often – which is a very good thing for most nonprofits.

My hope is as you run fast into 2017 you will consider learning more about Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat.  And that you will leverage the fundraising power behind this simple, donor-centered communication rhythm.

Major Donor Fundraising: Another $240,000 raised in one weekend

Major Donor Fundraising

It is hard to believe the success one of our clients is having raising money via small group, major donor gatherings. They call them “major donor summits.”

Just in recent months they have raised over $500,000 by bringing together select groups of current major and mid-level donors to hear more about their mission and to be given a very clear opportunity to make a significant donation.

The ingredients we came up with for these events are actually very simple and something you can implement:

  1. Find a geographic location where you have a number of major and mid-level donors residing
  2. Invite them to a one or two-day gathering at a desirable location or venue
  3. Include your leadership team at the event
  4. Share with them the big-picture vision and goals you hope to accomplish with their financial help
  5. Give them a campaign goal that they can collectively fund
  6. Deliver a clear and simple fundraising offer
  7. Include a giving deadline, ideally by the end of the event

These basic ingredients have proven to be a successful combination. I challenge you to come up with your version of a major donor summit so that you can raise more money and develop deeper connections with your donors!

Major Donor Fundraising: One simple phrase can change your major donor fundraising forever

Major Donor Fundraising

“Thank you!”

This simple phrase is the glue that keeps your donors engaged in giving and wanting to give more over time.

When you thank your donors promptly and emotionally for their gift, they feel appreciated and start to develop a deeper connection with your organization, mission and beneficiaries you serve.

Knowing that saying thank you is so important, I challenge you to review your thank you letters and receipt packages to see if they do an absolutely great job thanking your donor for her generosity.  Consider these things when evaluating our thank you process and content.

  1. Are you thanking your donors promptly? The goal is to thank them within 72 hours after having received their gift.
  2. Are you thanking your donors emotionally? Can your donor feel your gratitude coming through the letter?
  3. Are you telling your donor what is going to happen because they gave a gift? Or are you just ‘acknowledging’ their gift and using stuffy “CFO language” or marketing-speak?
  4. Do your receipt packages include a response device and return envelope? Really successful fundraising organizations raise more money by making it as easy as possible for their donors to make their next gift.
    1. Note that they aren’t Asking for a gift, but they include a reply card and envelope because they know that some donors will be moved to send in another gift.

Do you have room for improvement when it comes to thanking your donors?  Do all you can before summer ends to improve this important part of the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat rhythm.

FREE Training for Board Members and Executive Directors– Register Today!


Are you a Board Member or Executive Director?  Would you like FREE Training on how to know whether your organization’s fundraising is effective — and what to do if it isn’t?

As an E.D. or Board Member, we know you want to understand what a great fundraising program looks like — and how you can govern, support and evaluate your staff’s efforts.

Here are the details on the training that’s been created just for you! Jim Shapiro and Steven Screen, two nationally-known experts, will teach you what you need to know to evaluate your fundraising, to know what to focus on, and what you need to know to really make a difference

In honor of International Day of Charity, Jim and Steven are hosting a FREE Training specifically for Executive Directors and Board Members:

  • WHEN: September 8th, 2016; 9:30am-12pm
  • WHERE: 415 Westlake (415 Westlake Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109)

You’ll learn:

  • The two performance metrics you should focus on: net revenue and retention rate
  • The three things your organization needs to be doing, especially with Major Donors
  • How Boards can govern their organization’s fundraising but still let the fundraisers do their jobs
  • What successful donor-focused fundraising looks and sounds like

Learn more here and register Today!

Major Donor Fundraising: What every Board Member needs to know about fundraising

Major Donor Fundraising

If you are a Board Member at a not-for-profit, most likely your mind starts swimming when you think about the fundraising needs of your organization.

You become anxious as you think about asking your friends for money.  You doubt your ability to come up with a great way to raise money. You don’t really know how to judge your organization’s fundraising, you just know whether you like it or not.

What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way?  That donor development work cannot only be fun, but fruitful?

Over the years, I have found that the easiest and most impactful way for you to become involved with fundraising as a board member is also usually very rewarding as well—thanking donors for their recent gift.

Thanking donors promptly and emotionally after their gift is essential to retaining them. As a board member, you can actively participate in this important work by writing thank you notes, making thank you calls or visiting with donors face-to-face to thank them for their gift. You will quickly see first-hand how donor development can be fun and fruitful!

FREE Training for Nonprofit Boards and Executive Directors


Have you ever wanted to know how to evaluate – and improve — your organization’s fundraising?

The Better Fundraising Co. is offering this FREE seminar to help Board Members and Executive Directors evaluate and improve your organization’s fundraising.  September 8, 9:30am-12:00pm, downtown Seattle.

Most Board members and E.D.s aren’t professional fundraisers, and have to rely on gut instinct and a small handful of experiences to govern and evaluate their organization’s fundraising.  This session will teach you what you need to know to be as helpful as possible!

What you’ll learn:

  • The two performance metrics you should focus on: net revenue and retention rate
  • The three things your organization needs to be doing, especially with Major Donors
  • How Boards can govern their organization’s fundraising but still let the fundraisers do their jobs
  • What successful donor-focused fundraising looks and sounds like

Jim Shapiro and Steven Screen will present what’s working and what’s not working in fundraising today – with real-life examples you can learn from – so that you can be more informed, help your organization, and help raise more money.  In honor of International Day of Charity, they’d love to help you and your Board be more effective at governing your organization’s fundraising – for free!

Sign up today!

Major Donor Fundraising: This Mistake Can Kill Your Major Donor fundraising

Major Donor Fundraising

All too often I hear of organizations taking their major donors out of their direct mail stream.  They don’t want to overwhelm their major donors with appeal letters and newsletters.

I applaud their desire to protect their major donors from too many communications, but I believe there needs to be a balance.

When you pull your major donors from your direct communications, your donors will give less because they don’t feel like they have good connection with your organization.  I strongly recommend that you send your newsletter to your major donors.

If your donors are going to write you another large donation, they need to be Reported to.  (In other words, they need to be told what their previous gift accomplished.)  And the primary purpose of your newsletter is to do just that; Report back to your donors what was accomplished because they gave a gift.

Feel free to upgrade the way the newsletter is delivered to your majors.  Give it a personal touch by hand-addressing the envelope.  One of our clients has great success by putting their newsletter in a large envelope (so they don’t have to fold it), hand-addressing the envelope, and sending it to their majors.

Whatever you do, make sure your major donors are hearing from you regularly.  If you don’t have the manpower to be personally in touch with them often, you should absolutely be including them in your mailings – especially your newsletter!

Major Donor Fundraising: Report Back to Your Donors This Summer

Major Donor Fundraising

Have you ever heard of the fundraising “summer slump”?  It’s real and happening right now across North America.

Most (but not all) organizations experience a significant dip in their fundraising revenue during the summer months.  It happens because their donors are busy with summer vacations and the breaks in their normal rhythms.

If your cause or organization doesn’t have a natural reason to fundraise during the summer, this could be a great time of year to be Reporting back to your major donors on the impact their previous gift is having on your beneficiaries.

So take the time this summer to visit with your major donors and Report back to them the amazing things that have happened because they gave you a gift earlier in the year.

And if you are unable to meet fact-to-face with your major donors, then send them a text that includes a picture of a beneficiary they helped.  Or take a short video of a beneficiary or perhaps the building the donor helped build.  Set aside time in your day to call your donors and give them a quick update.

By whatever means possible, Report back to your donors during the summer months.  Why?  Because now is a great time to close the loop with each of your donors, earn their trust, so that they will be ready to give another gift during the last few months of the year.