Tag Archives: MJA Challenge

MJA Nonprofit Board Challenge: Bowling and Dice Rolling

Last week I asked whether you were a bowler or a dice roller.  (If you didn’t see the article, you can read it by clicking here) I gave an example of a board member meeting that went awry, but there are so many pieces of the development process that can be regarded in this way.

For this week’s nonprofit board challenge, I offer you 4 examples and to consider and determine whether you should bowl again or accept the roll..

  1. Donor A has given $50 to your organization for the past 5 years.  This year, they gave $75.  Should you be a bowler or dice roller?
  2. Donor B gave $100 to the organization two years ago in honor of a loved one.  The loved one is still involved in the organization but the donor has not responded to additional solicitations.  Should you be a bowler or dice roller?
  3. You received a call as the Executive Director that while you were a meeting, the Director of Development just reamed the Major Gifts Officer in front of other employees.  Should you be a bowler or dice roller?
  4. Mr and Mrs. ZZ were rated within your capital campaign committee to be able to give a six-figure gift. After some stewardship and they gave $5000.  Should you be a bowler or dice roller?

My Answers:

1. BOWLER!  This is the perfect opportunity to engage this person and deepen the relationship.  If they are a dedicated supporter who has increased their committment without stewardship – just imagine the possibilities.

2. DICE ROLLER.   Giving in honor of someone can be a gateway into additional donations but more often than not, it is a one time gift.  Don’t waste your efforts.

3.  BOWLER.  Okay, you didn’t roll the first ball but as a teammate, you can help ensure everyone works together.  Take the time to discuss the issue with the Director of Development and encourage him/her to bowl again.

4. IT DEPENDS.  Not every situation is clear cut.  If they gave you an explanation as to why their gift was so far below expectations you have to assess whether that means, “No,” “Not Now,” or “Never going to be more.”

Good luck, whichever path you take.

MJA Nonprofit Challenge: Donations from Millenials

Last week, in the article, “Attracting Donations from Millenials,” I listed ways to encourage these up and coming gifts.  But, I want you to do more than go back and read the articles in that issue of the newsletter. I want you to put the ideas into action.

For this week’s challenge, list 3 concrete steps you can take to improve the way your nonprofit attracts and retains younger donors.  Don’t consider the amount of their potential gift – just that they are interested enough in your organization to give—or, perhaps, to give again—this year.

The long-term success of your organization will depend on these donors. Cultivating them – especially in ways that will appeal to your other donors  – and doing it sooner rather than later seems like an essential element of your overall strategy.

MJA Nonprofit Challenge: Maintaining Momentum

One of the stumbling blocks that many nonprofits encounter is starting a project, capital campaign or new program only to have it fizzle out.  There can be many causes for this including the loss of the lead cheerleader, fatigue, or lack of clarity.  But the end result is often the same – less confidence in the organization.

This week’s challenge: focus on activities in your agency that have lost momentum.  Then, list three ways in which you can turn around the situation.  Consider inviting other stakeholders, staff members, donors or volunteers who can serve as a sounding board.  The important thing  — recognize the problem areas before they turn into defeat.

Good luck, and let us know if we can help you overcome your nonprofits’ challenges.

MJA Challenge: Finding a New Perspective at Your Nonprofit

I have been running the same route in my neighborhood for the past year.  On a recent day I did something radical – I ran the route in the opposite direction.  If you are not a runner, this may seem like an obvious thing to do, but most of us find a path and follow it knowing we will get the mileage we want without thinking too hard.   But it gave me a completely different perspective on a road that I would have previously considered well traveled.

It made me consider what other areas in my life should be viewed from a different direction.   Before long I was wondering whether each and every one of you out there were among the people who needed a new perspective at your nonprofit.  And do you know what I realized? Every week, in this newsletter, we are trying to change our reader’s point of view.  We guide you to analyze your board in a different way, step outside of your comfort zone to consider new fundraising techniques and improve your skills as a development professional or volunteer.

For this week’s challenge I invite you to step back and consider your role in a nonprofit.  Then, consider, what is in need of improvement?  Where have you been running the same route for some time that could use a shakeup?  Then, list three ways that you can make changes.  Don’t list general ideas like read the articles on major giving on merskyjaffe.com.  Rather, read the articles and list three concrete ideas that could work for you.

And, remember that a seemingly minor change can have a major positive impact but remaining stagnant can do exactly the opposite.

Mersky Jaffe & Associates Challenge: Donor Objections

In last week’s article, “Responding to Donor Objections,” I offered tips for handling some of the more common reasons people offer when they are not yet ready to give to your cause.  This week, I would like you to consider some issues that are specific to your organization.

The challenge is to consider your case for giving whether it is a capital or annual campaign– and list 3-5 objections that you are likely to hear.  Then, consider how you could reassure the prospective donors in each case – potentially with more than one response.

As always, if you need help working on the specifics of your campaign and overcoming donor objections, click here to email me.


MJA Challenge: Presenting to One Donor or Twenty

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article that focused on presentation skills.  You can read it by clicking here. It occurred to me later that many people think these skills are best used for presenting to medium to large crowds.  The reality is a presentation to a single donor requires just as much skill, if not more (although you may want to skip standing for the entire time).

The challenge this week is to list 3 places in which you require strong presentation skills and, as a follow up, what you think you could do to improve your next offering.  If you are not sure, consider calling or emailing someone in your last presentation.  If you want to know how you did with a donor in a recent meeting – it is a great excuse to call the person with no plans for an ask.

As always, we love to hear what you learn.

MJA Challenge: Tweaks to a Nonprofit

Often, nonprofit development professionals are focused on major changes within their organization.  Whether an impending capital campaign is the catalyst or a new staff member is encouraging a transformation, dramatic overhauls to systems can establish more professional standards and best practices.  But, many organizations do not need anything that dramatic.  Many nonprofits only need tweaks to a nonprofit ensure they are running at full capacity or efficiency.

This week, I would like you to consider what two areas need tweaks within your organization.  Then, consider three ways that you could bring about change.  This could be as simple as examining and rearranging your calendar for the year, hiring a professional office organizer or offering a computer training session so more staff can utilize your systems.   Only you know the areas that need strengthening – so now is the time for you and your staff to brainstorm ways to create improvement.

If, you are not sure where to start, email me to learn how we can assess your strengths and weaknesses through an MJA Organizational and Development Assessment.

MJA Challenge: Judging Your Nonprofit

Last week I posted 3 articles (see the links below) that questioned whether your nonprofit was being perceived in a planned way, or evolved in a haphazard and counterproductive fashion.  The articles, focused on judging your nonprofit, were brief in both their problems and solutions (trying to keep blog posts short, I have been told, is essential to ensure higher readership) but the strong interest in the articles implies that many of you are concerned about how your nonprofit is being judged.

Your challenge this week is to choose one the three areas discussed last week (by your board, your messaging or your gala) or another way in which you realize your organization’s image is not what you want it to be.  List at least 3 ways in which you can improve the situation.  If you share your suggested plan of action with us, we will post those that have the most universal application.

And, let us know if we can help you find your solution by emailing Abigail Harmon.

MJA Challenge: Exceeding Fundraising Goals

This month, I found the article, “Candy, Content and Competition – Why the UJA-Federation of New York Keeps Breaking Fundraising Records an inspiration. It gleamed with ideas for engaging and encouraging donor involvement at all levels and I encourage you to read it with a fine tooth comb.

For this week’s challenge, we would like you to come up with 3 new ways in which you can engage donors in the coming year. Write them down and include steps that must be taken to achieve these goals as well as who else should be involved to ensure these new moves gain traction. I can’t promise you will break every record, but I can promise a substantial change if you make moves to further engage your donors.

If you would like to speak about specific changes you can make within your organization, feel free to email Abigail Harmon today.

MJA Challenge: Thanks for Your Giving

I couldn’t resist a bad pun to start off this Thanksgiving week challenge. In the past, we have advocated many different ways to show thanks to your donors. This week’s challenge is to think of 3 ways to thank donors that your organization has yet to employ.

If you are looking for ideas you can read Seven Ways To Thank A Donor or write a list of 10 ways that your specific nonprofit can acknowledge donors.  You can include formal and informal notes, consider signage, publications, websites and events.  Creating the list doesn’t mean that you have to use every possibility, but you will know where to start. And how to build up to 7 or more acknowledgements quickly.

Happy Thanksgiving.