5 lessons from LI's high-dollar fundraising training
The High-Dollar Fundraising School came to a close yesterday. The packed, two-day training is just part of the Leadership Institute's Comprehensive Fundraising Training -- a week-long bootcamp on raising funds.

Below are the key takeaways I got from each speaker. More to come throughout the week; the Direct Mail School is next.


Vision, mission, program: Your vision is what success looks like. Your mission is why you do it. Your program fulfills your mission.

Connie Marshner, President of Connie Marshner and Associates, led the second day of the High-Dollar Fundraising School by teaching attendees how to organize a successful development (fundraising) department and how to develop their message.

Other key points:

--> You need a fundraising plan to provide focus. It helps you use your resources wisely -- and it protects you from "good idea syndrome."

--> Emotion, not logic, drives peoples' decisions to give to your campaign or cause.


The four steps of a sale, fundraising or otherwise: attention, interest, desire, and (your) ask.

Todd Meredith, co-owner of Morgan, Meredith, & Associates, explained how to run successful fundraising events, from start to finish -- and maximizing your return on investment.

Other key points:

--> Fundraising is about making a sale to your donor. Don't talk your donor out of the sale.

--> When events succeed, you get large sums of money in a short amount of time, you reward donors, and you earn media coverage.

--> Events fail without a plan, when the candidate or president is unprepared, or even just due to bad locations.


Never assume. (In this case, that donors know you take gifts on a long-term basis.)

Michael Barvick, Director of Major Planned Giving at The Heritage Foundation, talked about how to develop an effective and successful planned giving program for your organization.

Other key points:

--> Consistency is the single biggest indicator of a potential planned giver.

--> When you're telling stories to donors, make them about real people and real families who have supported your cause or organization.

--> For every estate gift you know of, there are four you don't.


Start by looking for the organizations that identify with you.

Tracey Johnson, President and CEO of CREDO Strategies, explained the nuts and bolts of grant-writing and how it could be used to fund your organization.

Other key points:

--> Include grant proposals as part of your fundraising plan. A grant is an award of funds given by a group or organization to another organization for a cause or project.

--> Send grant-giving organizations a newsletter or other information about your group. Let them know what you're about.

--> Don't forget to search locally for organizations that award grants.


The majority of the time you contact a donor in a year, it should not be to ask for money.

Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute, closed the High-Dollar Fundraising School with a two-hour lecture on the "care and feeding" of donors. He taught students how to put together the lessons they had learned to build stable, thriving organizations.

Other key points:

--> Always remember: you can't save the world if you can't pay the rent.

--> Large donors usually start as small donors. You must treat all donors well.

--> Thank you cards to your donors should be warm and heartfelt.

--> Most donors give to people, not to organizations. Create close, personal ties whenever possible. In practice, you will become personal friends with many of your donors.

Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@KyleBaccei).