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Do It Anyway

Recently I got the chance to take a tour of Pacific Rim Christian University, in Honolulu, and to meet their president, Kent M. Keith. While visiting this small Christian college, I learned that President Keith was the person who wrote the ‘Do It Anyway’ Paradoxical Commandments that many of us have heard came from Mother Theresa. It was the late …

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Finding New Donors Who Believe in You

I would say that one of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “Can you help me find new donors?” This question seems to weigh on every fundraiser’s mind, and some people even try to hire The FOCUS Group to help them answer it. Unfortunately, we can’t do that. The truth is, you don’t need us for that. In …

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Go to the Moon

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress and announced that before the end of the decade, America would successfully land a man on the moon. At the time America had fallen far behind in the Space Race with communist Russia. When President Kennedy made this brazen speech, even the greatest scientists in the United States were amazed. This …

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Running Out of Salad Dressing

When we interact with donors, we are often quick to offer up stories about the work our organization is doing. We want to share stories of the people we are impacting or talk about how amazing our new program is. But in our eagerness to share, we often forget to ask questions and learn the stories of the person who …

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The Unexpected Mercedes

In St. Augustine, where I live, there is an amazing organization called St. John’s Council on Aging (SJCOA). The SJCOA mainly serves the older population in our county, people 65 years and older. In Florida, this represents about 25% of our local population. The organization has a huge budget and provides vital services like Meals on Wheels, a countywide bus …

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Building a Better Vacuum

When I was growing up, we had a Hoover vacuum cleaner. It was big, it was heavy, and it didn’t work very well – that’s what I remember. In the early 1990s, in the midst of rapid technological innovation and the rise of the global internet, a teacher from the United Kingdom named Jim Dyson got frustrated with his vacuum …

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New Year’s Resolutions

As the New Year arrives, it seems like people everywhere are feeling reflective and talking about their goals, resolving that this year will be a turning point. In light of that atmosphere, today I want to share a few resolutions I have for myself. They are not new. Actually, I have the same resolutions every year! For the last fifteen …

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When Donors Matter, Culture Matters

Over the last thirty years in fundraising, I’ve encountered donors from a wide array of cultural backgrounds. As part of Taking Donors Seriously, we teach our clients to consider donors individually, approaching each one in a way that makes sense for them. This includes being culturally appropriate, which can take time to learn to do well, especially if you are …

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We Will Sell No Wine Before Its Time

Orson Welles, the American writer and director most famous for his film Citizen Kane, starred in a famous commercial in 1978. The distinguished Welles promoted Paul Masson wine with a memorable slogan: We will sell no wine before its time. It’s true that serving wine at a fundraiser may increase giving, but that is not what I am suggesting! Rather, …

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The One-Hit Wonder

When I was growing up in the 80’s there was a very popular band called A-ha. They were what we would call a one-hit wonder – you might remember their song “Take On Me.” (Take me on!) I often feel like that band, as I am also a one-hit wonder. Throughout my career in fundraising, I’ve kept on singing the …