Meet Matthew Hurtt: Having Fun Saving the Country
Kirsten Holmberg
August 26, 2022
Meet Matthew Hurtt: Having Fun Saving the Country
“The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you're not having fun saving the country, you're doing it wrong.” Meet Matthew Hurtt, the Director of Professional Services at Leadership Institute. He is an internationally recognized fundraiser, organizer, writer, and public speaker. I interviewed Matthew to hear more about his background and draw on his vast political and fundraising experience. What motivated you to get involved in conservative politics? My parents were never politically inclined before I ran for office at age 19 in 2006. My interest in current events intersected with a local property issue that was affecting people in my church, and I decided to jump in head-first by running for local office. That interest stuck, and I remained very involved through college. I co-hosted a conservative talk radio show on 88.3 WMTS with my best friend, wrote editorials for the school newspaper, and was elected to Student Government. Off-campus, I worked alongside my elected state representative and senator and was a fixture in the state capitol before moving to Arlington to work at Leadership Institute in 2009. You currently serve as the Director of Professional Services at the Leadership Institute. Can you tell me more about your work? The Director of Professional Services oversees LI's Careers Training, ConservativeJobs.com, our Internship Program, and provides additional resources and support to LI's 250,000 trained activists across the country and across the globe. I tell people my role is the “switchboard” into the conservative movement. If you're looking for activist training, employment opportunities, and other movement resources, I'm your guy. What would you like our readers to know about Leadership Institute?Graduates of Leadership Institute training have an underutilized resource at your disposal – LI's vast network of other trained activists! I speak every day with people who benefit from that one introductory email to another LI-trained activist to help them advance their conservative policy, campaign, or professional goals. If you've taken LI training of any sort at any time, reach out to Leadership Institute and allow us to maximize your efforts.Before coming on as LI staff, you were a distinguished faculty member for LI. Why did you decide to teach for LI? What have been some of your favorite topics to talk about?I started teaching for LI almost by accident. When I worked as one of LI's Regional Field Coordinators in 2009, I began offering to help other departments and divisions teach their programming.I taught a Youth Leadership School at the University of Kentucky in August 2009 and a Campaign Management School during D.C.'s “Snowpocalypse” in December 2009. Once I left full-time employment with LI in early 2010, I continued to teach as guest faculty.My undergraduate degree actually includes a minor in secondary education. I wanted to be a high school history and civics teacher, but professors told me I'd hate the red tape and bureaucracy. Serving as guest faculty allowed me to scratch the itch to be in the classroom with almost no bureaucracy or red tape with an audience of students who truly wanted to learn.What is, in your opinion, the most valuable Political and Fundraising training, workshop, or school someone can take here at LI?I think the training that really has the most potential to produce the most generational benefit for conservatives is the brand-new Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur training.This training is designed to teach conservatives how to start your own nonprofit or issue advocacy organization.Our movement would greatly benefit from more organizational entrepreneurs who establish local, state-level, and even nationally oriented groups to advance conservative principles, and Leadership Institute training can point you in the right direction and empower you to launch your own organization.As the Communications Director of the Arlington GOP, what are you most looking forward to in the upcoming elections?I love crafting messages that excite our activists and get them off the couch. Conservatives don't win a lot of elections in Arlington, but our activists are engaged because I help drive a narrative that keeps them involved.Our 4,000-person email list always engages with our updates, and people turn out to our events because they read about them in our emails or across social media.We don't win a lot, but we certainly can't win if we don't show up. So, I really enjoy crafting messages that get our activists to show up.How has LI helped prepare you to serve as the Communications Director for the Arlington GOP?I think knowing LI's headquarters is within the boundaries of my local political engagement forces me to be a more effective activist; it allows me to test activism ideas because Leadership Institute is the incubator of conservative activism.To that end, I feel a certain responsibility to be the best and most effective activist I can be. I can't teach people about it in LI trainings if I haven't gone out and done it myself.Having managed numerous political campaigns, what would you tell a first-time campaign manager?Your candidate should be knocking on doors and raising money. If you outwork the other guy – especially in a small primary – you can win. Knock doors. Raise money. Spend that money effectively. Nothing else matters. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?As a conservative activist in a community where 80% of my neighbors voted for Joe Biden, I tell people, “I'm the kid in the room full of horse manure, saying there's got to be a pony in here somewhere.” The late Andrew Breitbart implored us to be happy warriors, and I am grateful for the opportunity every day to be a happy warrior for our principles. If you're not having fun saving the country, you're doing it wrong.If you're interested in the Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur or any other Leadership Institute training, visit LeadershipInstitute.org/Training to explore your options.
Meet Rick Tyler: From the hospitality industry in Maine to Political Commentator & LI Trainer
Kirsten Holmberg and Jordan Deibler
July 27, 2022
Meet Rick Tyler: From the hospitality industry in Maine to Political Commentator & LI Trainer
Meet Rick Tyler, the Director of Core Schools at the Leadership Institute (LI). He is also a thought-provoking Political Analyst for the MSNBC Cable News Network offering a conservative perspective to unfolding political events. As a professional political strategist, Rick has helped hundreds of candidates prepare for the rigors of campaigning for public office. He is Co-Founder of Foundry Strategies, a strategic, communications firm specializing in helping candidates and campaigns hone their communications skills. Rick was the National Spokesperson for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. In the 2012 election cycle, Rick was a senior advisor and spokesman to the Winning Our Future PAC, a pro-Newt Gingrich for President Super PAC. Prior to joining the PAC, Rick was a key member of the former House Speaker's team for more than a decade serving as Gingrich's advisor and spokesperson. A gifted communicator, Rick has appeared thousands of times on national television news shows including MSNBC; Fox News Channel; CNN; CBS News; NBC News; ABC News; PBS; HBO; CNBC; CBN; Bloomberg News; BBC; CBC; RTE; and Al Jazeera. I interviewed Rick to hear more about his background and draw on his vast political experience. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background? I came out of the hospitality industry working in hotels and restaurants. I started my political career when I volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of the mother of one of the waitresses in a restaurant where I worked in coastal Maine. I've worked in politics ever since. I've worked on campaigns. For five years, I was the executive director of the Maine Republican Party. In that position, I engaged GOPAC to come to Maine and conduct political training for our House and Senate candidates. Soon after, I became a political trainer for GOPAC teaching all over the country. For more than a decade, I trained thousands of candidates and activists to win elections including three trips over six years to train California Republican Assembly members at the request of then-leader Kevin McCarthy. You were the national spokesman for Ted Cruz for President as well as a personal advisor and spokesman for Newt Gingrich. What motivated you to work for these men? In 1994, I was just getting started in politics, but it was Newt Gingrich who grabbed my attention when he organized the Republican Party with a Contract with America that led to the Republicans gaining the majority both in the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years. I followed him closely. When the opportunity came to meet his closest advisor, Joe Gaylord, I made clear my desire to work in what was then affectionately known as Newt-world. I had never met Senator Cruz when the call came asking me to work on his presidential campaign. But I soon met him, and we hit it off immediately. In Newt's case, I was motivated to work for him because he was a leader with a proven track-record having seized the speakership; in Cruz' case, because he had the potential of a future conservative leader. Are there any insightful stories that you can share from your time working on campaigns or with candidates? Everyone has a story. The key to developing a great candidate is telling their unique story that is relatable to voters. I have found that most candidates are bored by their own story because, well, it is their story. But people are fascinated with stories. Our stories connect us to the hearts of voters, not only getting them to like us. That will inoculate you as a candidate from criticism. We tend to defend people with whom we have made an emotional connection. Stories allow voters to know what the candidate is about and their character. This provides a solid foundation for putting their trust in that candidate. So, developing the candidate's story and personal brand is the most important part of a successful candidacy. You are the Director of Core Schools here at the Leadership Institute (LI). Tell us a bit about your position. My main goal as the Director of Core Schools was to create the Campaign Leadership College (CLC) as the most comprehensive course LI has ever offered. The purpose of the course is to develop campaign leaders who work at the senior level of campaigns for conservative candidates. For a candidate, being conservative is not enough. You must have experienced people to run a winning campaign. The CLC seeks to fill the current, severe shortage of trained conservative campaign managers and directors so that conservative candidates can have competent managers and directors to run their campaigns. What is, in your opinion, the most valuable Political and Fundraising training, workshop, or school someone can take here at LI? I think that all depends upon what your goals are. LI offers so many quality programs from the Youth Leadership School, to the Conservative Organizational Entrepreneur, to the Campaign Leadership College. However, I would say that everyone should take the public speaking course because even if you don't plan to become a public speaker, having the ability to communicate your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner will help you in any career goal. If you're interested in the Campaign Leadership College, Public Speaking Workshop, or any other Leadership Institute training, visit LeadershipInstitute.org/Training to explore your options.
5 Digital Campaigning Secrets from Leadership Institute’s Newest Online Course
Eric Wilson
July 12, 2022
5 Digital Campaigning Secrets from Leadership Institute’s Newest Online Course
Digital campaigning is an essential skill if you want to advance your principles and win at the ballot box. Often, getting started can be the hardest part. There are so many platforms, options, and choices to make, and it's easy to become overwhelmed. But not if you understand the fundamentals of digital marketing and never lose sight of your goals. Leadership Institute's new Zero to 1,000: Social Media for Campaigns training series helps conservatives of all skill levels overcome the hurdle of getting started. It's three hours of video lessons with everything you need to know about launching your digital campaign.The best part? The training is FREE for a limited time.Sign Up HereTo give you a preview of what you'll learn, here are five digital campaigning secrets to improve the quality and effectiveness of your online efforts. KEEP IT SOCIAL The secret to social media marketing is right in the name. Too many campaigners only focus on the media component with photos and videos while overlooking “social” and “marketing.” Being social means you respond to comments, participate in conversations, and have a personality. Don't forget the marketing either. Your campaign should use social media to win an election by getting attention, raising money, and earning votes. If you know why you're using social media for your campaign, you'll stay focused on your marketing goals and not get distracted by the platform. BIGGER IS BETTER When it comes to online fundraising, the bigger your active email list, the more money you'll raise. That's the only secret there is. Text messaging – both broadcast and peer-to-peer (P2P) – is also increasingly important. Think about it: when someone signs up to support your campaign and opts in to receive communications from you, they are already on the way to being invested.BEWARE THE PLATFORMS Your goals are different from those of Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other online platforms. Your objective is to win an election. Their goal is to sell more ads by keeping users on the site.To avoid sharing your audience with big tech, do everything you can to make your campaign accessible through other means, including email and text. DATA TARGETING ISN'T PERFECTUsing data to target your digital advertising is essential, but targeting too narrowly is a mistake. The goal is to gain efficiency by showing fewer wasted impressions to the intended audience. You can't eliminate all inefficiency without trimming out key voters. Simply relying on past behavior – namely voting history – can also be a big mistake. As many as a third of voters in a primary election, for example, could be first-time voters. More citizens are coming into the political process than ever before.CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY Digital campaigning is fundamentally about audience building. The most effective way to build an audience online is to create and share content consistently. Think about your favorite TV show or podcast. You know when new episodes come out, and you make time to watch or listen to them. The same is true for the content your campaign or cause creates.No matter the platform, posting consistently builds and grows your audience. So, don't take on more than you can handle. Start with email and Facebook, then grow from there.YOU OWE IT TO YOUR PHILOSOPHY TO STUDY HOW TO WINIn the new Zero to 1,000: Social Media for Campaigns course, you'll learn these digital campaigning “secrets” and much more. Most important, this training will simplify the “why” behind key online marketing strategies so you can apply them in any context, regardless of experience or budget.
Making History – Highly Trained Conservative Campaigners
Dylan Craig
June 30, 2022
Making History – Highly Trained Conservative Campaigners
On Friday, June 24th, I attended Leadership Institute's inaugural Campaign Leadership College. It's a day I'll never forget. When I woke up on the 24th, I didn't expect it to become a historic day, a day I'll tell my children about. It started out typically. As always, I made breakfast and went for a brief "wake-up walk," as my grandfather calls them. I got dressed and headed to the Campaign Leadership College venue, looking forward to attending LI's newest (and most comprehensive) training, a bold nine-day project designed to develop conservative activists into senior campaign executives. In a representative republic, ideas alone don't win elections; it takes a competent team of campaign staffers to elevate these ideas into elected office, where they can then be translated into tangible policy victories. The current state of our government is a prime example. Leftists hold the legislative and executive branches, despite having absurd and philosophically unsound beliefs. They're not elected to office because they're right; they're in office because they've benefitted from skilled campaign workers running effective campaigns. For decades, the left has excelled at this. The Campaign Leadership College was created to alleviate this problem. Over nine days, campaign experts teach forty conservative activists how to build a winning campaign from the bottom up. Upon graduation, these graduates enter the political field, taking their newfound expertise from campaign to campaign. They learn how to analyze districts, interpret and apply voter data, budget, fundraise, conduct opposition research, and find and keep good staff. An hour into day seven of the College, an attendee jubilantly stood up and blurted out some major news; the Supreme Court had officially overturned Roe v. Wade, revoking the long-standing federal right to an abortion. The room, filled with conservative activists of all ages and backgrounds, erupted in celebration. It was a beautiful moment, not only because it was a step towards abolishing abortion, but because it symbolized what can be accomplished when conservatives effectively organize. For years, many thought Roe v. Wade would never be overturned. Thanks to effectively managed campaigns, in the face of all odds, the conservative movement had its most significant victory in living memory. As future Campaign Leadership Colleges continue to send highly trained conservatives into the political field, I can only imagine the conservative victories America will continue to enjoy.
Meeting Moms for Liberty's Marie Rogerson, military brat, parent, and activist
Kirsten Holmberg
April 22, 2022
Meeting Moms for Liberty's Marie Rogerson, military brat, parent, and activist
"This story is being replicated in counties across the nation. Moms and dads are awake. They do not want to co-parent with the government, and they will not allow classroom doors to slam closed on their parental rights – and God bless them for it.” – Marie RogersonMeet Marie Rogerson, a Leadership Institute graduate, Campaign Management Consultant, and the Director of Development at Moms for Liberty. During my interview with Marie, we discussed her past involvement in non-profit organizations, her views on parental influence on local government, and experiences from her current role in Moms for Liberty. Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?I'm a military brat. I've moved more than 30 times in my life. My father's military experience taught him to remain vigilant, and that extended into the arena of local politics. There were 6 of us kids, 4 boys, and 2 girls. My father paid extra attention to the goings-on at our school board. Even back in the mid-nineties, he realized education in America was going in the wrong direction and couldn't stand by without taking action. When I was about 13, he ran for school board. Mind you, we lived in basically the only blue county in the state of Kansas and my father was as conservative as they come. He knew he stood little chance, but he also understood that he could bring attention to key issues while exemplifying the importance of standing up for what you believe in. He didn't win, but I consider his run my first foray into politics. When I was 21, I served for 18 months as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, teaching the principles of Christ's liberty in the Spanish language. Serving in California, most of the individuals I taught were illegal immigrants. They told eye-opening stories about the corruption in their home countries and the lengths they went to cross the border. After my mission, I did a study abroad through Latin America and witnessed firsthand the places many of the people I taught came from. Both experiences deepened my appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy in America as well as the benefits of our free-market system. They also strengthened my empathy and gave me a human connection to an issue that I had previously only seen on the news as pundits speculated on the state of our border.Besides a brief stint as a Communications major, I mostly studied Political Science while at university. Unlike many professors today, mine were excellent at encouraging critical thinking rather than indoctrination. We discussed the political history of the world openly, and I walked away from the experience with a deep understanding of how entirely flawed systems like communism and socialism are.I finished my degree while pregnant with my first daughter. My husband Aaron and I have now been married for 15 years and have a total of 3 girls. Honestly, I owe most of who I am and what I've accomplished to him encouraging me to pursue my passions and continue to learn.You are the Director of Development at Moms for Liberty; what inspired you to get involved with this organization? Tina Descovich, one of the Co-Founders of Moms for Liberty is a close friend of mine. I helped manage her first campaign for school board. After we both lost our elections in 2020, we found ourselves with unexpected time on our hands and started a book club (for lack of a better word) to study the founding documents. We would dissect every word and phrase and discuss how the document applied to current events. It took us nearly six months, meeting twice a month, to read the Declaration of Independence. During that time Tina launched Moms for Liberty and asked me to help design a program around what we had been doing, which we now call Madison Meetups. Shortly after Moms for Liberty launched, one of the three founding members had to step back, and I was asked to take her place on the Executive Board. What was pitched to me as a “silent partner” position, has been anything but – which is good considering redheads aren't known for biting their tongues. After months of balancing our explosive growth, a demanding but adorable toddler, and my duties as Director of Operations for Foster Florida, I made the decision to resign from my paid job and cast my lot with moms in America, fighting for the survival of all we hold dear. While I had numerous attachments to the organization, there are two main things that tipped the scales for me in favor of Moms for Liberty. First, the grassroots focus. This isn't a national organization promising a magic 12-step program that will fix local schools. They understand that schools can only be fixed, with any lasting effect, by local people with the autonomy to take the fight in the direction they need. Our chapter leaders aren't paid activists, they already have skin in the game. The children they drop off at school every morning and pick up each afternoon are their motivation. Second, it isn't about merely drawing attention to the issue, it is about plugging parents in and helping them understand the system so they can fix it. There is plenty of conjecture and discussion about these issues; what we need are engagement and action. That is what Moms for Liberty brings to the table.Do you have any insightful stories about your work at Moms for Liberty? There is a mom whom I have known for several years. Since 2018, I've invited her to get involved in a number of ways without much success. When Moms for Liberty launched, she showed up at a chapter meeting. She then attended the next school board meeting. The following month, with trembling hands she addressed the school board for the first time. At each event I watched her come out of her shell as she found her people. She stood shoulder to shoulder with moms who also weren't exactly “political” people but were willing to learn together to preserve their parental rights. It is amazing to see these women don a navy shirt like armor and stand on the frontlines for their children. Almost a year later, this mom is boldly petitioning for what is right everywhere I look.This story is being replicated in counties across the nation. Moms and dads are awake. They do not want to co-parent with the government, and they will not allow classroom doors to slam closed on their parental rights – and God bless them for it.You are also a Campaign Consultant. How has Leadership Institute helped prepare you to ensure your candidates run successful campaigns? When the pandemic hit, like many people, my family began doing puzzles. It wasn't until we dumped out the first box and my daughter began attempting to put together random pieces that I realized no one had ever explained to her that you start with the edges then work your way in. She could have figured the puzzle out eventually, but she would have endured a lot of frustration in the process. Leadership Institute was like that for me. I had volunteered and worked on campaigns before, but until I sat through four full days of Campaign Management School, I was trying to solve a complicated puzzle by identifying patterns and putting random pieces together. Now I have the skills to organize effectively, mobilize, and win. We need more people capable of efficiently matching pieces to reveal beautiful images demonstrating how the principles of liberty can bless their communities.You were the Director of Operations for a non-profit serving the foster care community. What experience from that position has helped you in your current roles?My time with Foster Florida taught me about working on a board, the basics of running a non-profit, and most importantly the limit to parental rights. The goal when a child is first removed from their family and placed in care is reunification. That is not always the result, unfortunately. Even fundamental parental rights have limits. It has been a wonderful perspective enhancer to go from the world of foster care into the battle for parental rights. I have watched the anguish on a good mother's face as she was denied her parental rights temporarily due to poor choices as well as her joy when they were restored. I see the same anguish and joy on parents' faces now as the Director of Development for Moms for Liberty. The difference is that these parents did nothing to warrant the violation of their rights and were afforded much less due process.Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?Disillusionment is the feeling of disappointment from discovering something is not as good as it was believed to be. I do not believe you can be disillusioned with America. You can be disillusioned by its people and its leaders, but you cannot be disillusioned with it because it was literally founded on goodness – the idea that all men are created equal and deserve to live freely. What greater good could there be in a creation of man? America's leaders and its people may have made tragic mistakes along the way but that does not change the principle. If you find yourself disillusioned, you have likely lost sight of the mark. Focus less on the mistakes of man, and more on the divine principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Spend more time doing things that reinforce those principles and the light of hope will grow in your life. Manage your expectations, people have always been flawed. Find a principle that is not and hang on to it for dear life.Are you ready to take action and learn how the puzzle fits together, so you can make a difference? Check out the Campaign Management School Marie says gave her “the skills to organize effectively, mobilize, and win.” If you're looking for training you can take online on demand – including a free one on school boards – you can find a whole list of on-demand training here.
LI Grad Interview: From LI intern to Heritage Foundation VP, Andrew McIndoe Furthers Faith and Freedom
Kirsten Holmberg and Mark Madsen
December 22, 2021
LI Grad Interview: From LI intern to Heritage Foundation VP, Andrew McIndoe Furthers Faith and Freedom
Meet Andrew McIndoe, a former Leadership Institute (LI) intern, current LI faculty, and the highly successful Vice President of Development at The Heritage Foundation.In my recent interview with Andrew McIndoe, we discussed his experience working for Morton Blackwell and how Andrew sees the trajectory of conservative politics. Andrew left me reenergized to further the principles of faith and freedom, not just in my professional life but in all that I do.Can you tell me a bit about yourself?I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, North Carolina. I spent 18 years there before making my way to Grove City College in western Pennsylvania. Then I moved to DC right after graduation, and after doing a few internships I landed at The Heritage Foundation where I have worked for almost ten years. As a former LI intern and now Vice President at one of the leading conservative think tanks, when did you become interested in the world of policy and politics?My earliest political memory is doing “kids' voting” with my dad. We went into a little kids' booth that's much shorter than a regular booth. And I just thought it was so cool that we could go and have a say. It was neat because you felt like you were able to contribute. Even at a young age, I could feel the weight of fulfilling one of the most important civic duties.I don't remember a ton of political conversations around the dining room table. Though we must have had some, because I ended up working on a congressional campaign in high school. I attribute that to the Leadership Institute's Youth Leadership School (YLS).I took a YLS binder from the Leadership Institute and basically ripped it off and presented it to this candidate and said, “You need to have a youth campaign.” Working on a campaign plus doing a lot of speech and debate is how I entered electoral politics.I remember finding Heritage Foundation research and reading it over and saying, “Wow I agree with a lot of this stuff. This is cool.” It quickly became my go-to source for evidence in the speech and debate world and later in my studies. I never dreamed or thought about working at Heritage someday.What important skills were you able to develop through your Leadership Institute internship?During my time at the Leadership Institute, I was fortunate to be Morton Blackwell's intern. Morton is an exemplar of good character in the conservative movement, and through him I learned the importance of having integrity in all that you do.This experience working for Morton showed me that I could have a career advancing freedom, liberty, and the principles that make this country great. If it wasn't for that realization, I'd probably be out selling widgets and figuring out how to make a certain product faster or better. But instead, I found that there is great fulfillment and opportunity in supporting the free market and limited government and winning new audiences over to our side.And then the actual vocation and the actual work too. To realize that you could get paid to advance the cause of freedom was a remarkable lightbulb moment. I'm a lot more fulfilled working in the conservative space than I would have been if I had started in the private sector like a lot of my classmates.What were the most useful LI trainings for you? Getting to go to every single training that LI offered during that summer was a great perk of the internship, and I did my best to take as many as I could. Certainly, the Comprehensive Fundraising Training was an important one. I wasn't thinking about development as a full-time profession at that point, but looking back, that is one that I think is great even if you don't think fundraising is in your future. I learned what good donor relations looks like. Again, I think about Morton's rule: You can't save the world if you can't pay the rent.As a leader within the conservative movement, who are some of the people who helped you most to get where you are today? I'll just praise Morton Blackwell. He lives out his laws of the public policy process. What he says about "expanding the leadership” and “giving them a title and getting them involved” is great. I believe that he exhibited that advice well with me as an intern. While getting to work on special projects for him, he would share his wisdom and advice. He played an instrumental role in guiding me into the conservative movement and taught me some of those early lessons that have made all the difference in my career. I'm particularly grateful to Morton for that.As the Vice President of Development for The Heritage Foundation, what has your position taught you about the conservative movement?It wouldn't be a surprise for you to hear me say that the best ideas and solutions don't come from inside of DC – they don't come from the swamp – they come from outside the beltway. They come from people who have met payroll before, who have invented something, who made something of themselves. We need to bring more of those ideas and more of those people into the solutions here in DC.I think that too often our movement is focused on what happens inside of the beltway. And so, with 500,000 Heritage members across the country, a couple thousand in every congressional district, you need to speak into what's going on in the policy-making process and get them a channel or vehicle to do that. Are there changes we should be on guard for as a movement looking forward? First, I think the movement is about a lot more than just one person. It's about policies, and we need to winsomely articulate what those policies mean and tell really great stories about what it means for people on an individual basis.We've got a huge opportunity in a post-Covid education space, and if we don't take advantage of that we will have missed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the conversation about education. That's something I'm concerned about. So, if we can't present an alternative that's compelling and empowers parents to make good decisions for their own kids, I think we've done a disservice to the moment that exists right now.Second is a tendency to preach to the choir. I think the Leadership Institute does a great job of training people to not do this. We need to go out to non-traditional audiences, people who aren't in the pews already, and bring them into the fold. And we've got an opportunity with the wide variety of issues to do that. We need to speak to people about what's happening in their local communities. A lot of apolitical people are fired up right now, and we should look for more opportunities to highlight the contrast between the bankrupt policies of the left and the policies on the right that advance freedom and prosperity.What is an underutilized resource that we have as conservatives? I think that conservatives should be proud to put bumper stickers on their cars and yard signs in their front yards and not be ashamed of those things. We need to just embrace who we are and be willing to step out and say, “No, conservatives are not three-headed monsters. Just because I believe in school choice and believe in lower taxes doesn't make me a crazy person.” But too often I think we feel self-conscious because of the way that the mainstream media portrays issues, the way we are taught in our schools, the way that conservatives are portrayed in Hollywood. It's easy for us to feel like we are a silent minority. But we are really just a more silent majority.The Leadership Institute believes that all politics are local. And LI, before anyone else, understood the importance of school board elections and city council races, mayoral races, state senate races, etc. More of these battles are happening at the local level, and so the Leadership Institute's focus on training local leaders to step up and to serve in more of these important races is a massive comparative advantage and is of huge strategic importance to the conservative movement. Those are reasons that I am a donor to the Leadership Institute as well.What would you say to the people who feel apathetic about politics?I think it's easy to look around and be discouraged. You look at inflation and prices soaring, and it hurts people at the gas pump and grocery stores. It especially hurts the people who are having a hard time making ends meet. You look at a botched withdrawal in Afghanistan that was completely avoidable. You look at all the legislation being passed that contains hundreds of billions in wasteful spending, at critical race theory and transgender ideology permeating culture in schools and it's understandable for people to feel discouraged. But then, on the other hand, you look at what happened in the Virginia gubernatorial race. One candidate said that parents should have a say in their children's education, that you shouldn't have to wait for hours in line at the DMV, and that decisions shouldn't be made solely in Richmond.This candidate won dramatically in a state that has not been trending in the right direction. So, I think there's great reason to be encouraged by the fact that Americans are waking up. They don't believe in critical race theory. They believe that America is an exceptional nation and that our founders should be appreciated and revered.We should expect great things in 2022, and I think at this point it's ours to lose. And so, I hope that for those who have felt apathetic or discouraged in the past you can look at some of these things that have happened lately and get a bit more pep in your step and be encouraged because there are great reasons to be. If Andrew's words encouraged you to get involved in your local elections next year to send America back in the right direction, sign up for a Leadership Institute 2022 training. You'll learn how you and your conservative community can make a difference.
It’s Official: 2022 Political and Fundraising Calendar
Kirsten Holmberg
December 22, 2021
It’s Official: 2022 Political and Fundraising Calendar
Conservatives have the potential for great victories in 2022.Proper training will secure those victories.In addition to the hundreds of events that the Leadership Institute (LI) will conduct across the country, you'll find 20 fundraising and political trainings already scheduled at LI's Arlington, VA headquarters in 2022. Many additional trainings will be added during the year.Take a look at the 2022 calendar. You'll find everything from campaign management and candidate training to direct mail and high-dollar fundraising training. Pick the Leadership Institute training that's right for you and register now.Coming up, the Future Candidate School will run from January 13-15, 2022, and will help prepare you for your candidacy. If you plan to run for office in 2022, this training will show you the ropes, whether you're running for school board or Congress. And LI can help you even more if you're considering a run for office in 2023 and beyond.Check out the calendar above to find the right training for you! Then, register here for your favorites.
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Kirsten Holmberg
July 20, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Texan, Fire Department Volunteer, City Councilwoman
Meet Mackenzie Kelly, Leadership Institute graduate. I recently interviewed Mackenzie to learn about her background as a fire department volunteer, her drive to get involved, and how the Leadership Institute's training helped prepare Mackenzie to become a member of the Austin City Council in Texas.Can you tell me a little about yourself?Before being elected to City Council, I served at the Round Rock Fire Department Training Division, Williamson County Emergency Management and with the City of Austin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). In 2019, I was elected president of the 100th class of Austin Police Department's Citizen Police Academy. My close working relationship with the Austin Police Department gives me a rare perspective on local law enforcement and why it must be passionately supported and fully funded. I volunteered with the Jollyville Fire Department from 2005-2013, where I gained a profound respect for those who protect life and property in our capital city. While there, I completed a year-long fellowship through the Disaster Science Academy.Serving Austin's elderly population is another passion of mine, having worked in home health care for several years. I have also served as an appointee by then-Governor Rick Perry to the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. I am an advocate of good geographic representation, having run in the first city council election under the 10-1 plan in 2014. As for my greatest accomplishment, I am a mother of an inquisitive daughter, Rebekah, a student in the Round Rock ISD. I am happily married and am a 2005 graduate of Westwood High School (Go Warriors!).You currently are a member of the Austin City Council in Texas. How did you get involved with the City Council and what does your position involve?I have always had a love for public service. Before becoming elected, I was a volunteer firefighter for 8 years with the Jollyville Fire Department. After that, I was appointed to the Committee for People with Disabilities by former Texas Governor Rick Perry. I was then appointed by former Austin City Councilmen Don Zimmerman to the Women's Commission. I would also attend council meetings and speak during citizen testimony on pieces of legislation that resonated with my core values. What is one challenge you have faced during your time as a City Council member and how did you overcome it?One of the biggest challenges I've faced is being in a non-partisan role. The Austin City council is a 10-1 system or, 10 council members and 1 mayor. With 10 other Democrats on the dais and me being the only Republican, people may think that I'm isolated. What I've done in my role on council is open communication and collaboration with the other members so that I could find common goals to work on together. How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service?The Leadership Institute has prepared me with educational materials, mentorship, and resources to help prepare and equip me to be the best I can be in my role as an Austin City Councilwoman. Additionally, LI's Campaign Candidate School gave me the framework and confidence to run an effective grassroots campaign. This was not only vital to my success but the tools I have now allow me to keep a pulse on my constituency. Many people seem to be disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved?I've learned in my role that it only takes one voice to make meaningful change. The best way to see change made in your community is by getting involved in any way you can, no matter how small it may seem. I started out by testifying before the council. As I got more and more involved, the more change I saw. Now, I'm in a role that will allow me to have a direct impact on the community.This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. You can be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities with an email delivered straight to your mailbox. Don't miss out! Sign up today.
LI Grad Interview: Rugby Coach, Politico, Syracuse Native
Kirsten Holmberg
April 28, 2021
LI Grad Interview: Rugby Coach, Politico, Syracuse Native
Meet Leadership Institute grad Maureen McInerney, and learn how she got interested in politics, her advice for candidates, and even more.Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself? My name is Maureen McInerney, and I am currently the Director of Development at Women's Public Leadership Network (WPLN). WPLN's mission is to educate, organize, and inspire center- and right-leaning women to enter public office across the United States.Before joining WPLN, I worked for the ReflectUS coalition and Republican political campaigns in Massachusetts at the local, Congressional, and state level. Prior to politics, I worked in public affairs for MassINC, a Boston-based think tank focused on state and local policy impacting Gateway Cities, k-12 education, and the criminal justice system.I am a Syracuse, NY native (Go Orange!), and an alumna of Northeastern University in Boston, and currently live in Alexandria, VA. I have three sisters, two of whom are in high school, and I have played and coached rugby for almost eight years. Q: What got you interested in politics? I didn't know anything about politics until late in my senior year of high school in Syracuse, NY. Through an Intro to Public Affairs class, I met elected officials at the local, county, and state levels and began to form my own opinions on policy.Though I originally went to college to study graphic design, I began to transition into studying communications more broadly and eventually graduated with a degree in Political Science and Communications (with a minor in art).My internships in college for Governor Charlie Baker gave me the opportunity to see the inside of government and to appreciate qualified, conservative leaders who work to be good stewards of our tax dollars.I began working in policy and advocacy, specifically focused on economic opportunity for Massachusetts' 26 Gateway Cities. When the opportunity came up to work on a Congressional race for the first time to represent Massachusetts' 9th CD (Cape Cod, the South Coast, and South Shore), I took it! Q: What issues are important to you, and why? My top issue is always protecting our small businesses, which support our local economies and enrich our communities. As I've often heard, "Amazon isn't sponsoring your little league team."Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the importance (and in some places lack) of business-friendly leadership and the need to have policies set at the local level that can be responsive to each community. Another niche issue I have grown to care deeply about is water quality - specifically stormwater and wastewater management. I briefly worked at a wastewater treatment plant in Syracuse, and it was a great experience. We worked to clean up our waterways and lakes by mitigating stormwater runoff through "green infrastructure".As folks see the effects of climate change, they jump to call for a "Green New Deal," when many communities are falling behind on the most basic infrastructure improvements which can transform our cities into more beautiful, sustainable places and mitigate flooding and pollution. Q: You currently are the Director of Development for the Women's Public Leadership Network. How did you get involved in the network, and what does your position involve?Women's Public Leadership Network (WPLN) is a great organization working to train women to run for office and create a network of support across the country. We specifically outreach to center- and right-leaning women who are underrepresented in office and within other women's political organizations.It's our hope to not only help women on the right who are already in politics engage with and support one another, but to bring women on the right into the fold by partnering with professional associations and community groups. We want women to recognize how qualified they are to serve their communities in public office. I began engaging with WPLN while working as a campaign manager on a Boston City Council race for a Republican woman candidate. We saw firsthand how women voters expressed their own fiscally conservative views but didn't know there were other women out there like them. I see working at WPLN as a way to change that.As Director of Development, I work to engage donors, sponsors, foundations, and potential partners to support our work and reach new audiences. We are a nonprofit, and I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished in just over a year. Q: As a former campaign manager, what do you think is the most important factor in your campaign that helps your candidate win? Or, if your candidate didn't win, what are the lessons you have learned when working on a campaign?The message and the motivations of the candidate are so important. If you are trying to convince your candidate to be passionate about the issues, it's an uphill battle.I have been fortunate that the women candidates I have worked with are driven and know why they want to serve in public office, and they could answer that question from any angle. As a former communications director, that's a huge relief! In the Boston race, we had an incredible coalition of moms come out and support us as volunteers, donors, and voters. Even though we were not successful in our runoff election, getting there proved that voters care more about your passion and ties to the community than your party affiliation.In any campaign, there are countless lessons to be learned. I am always amazed by how many members of the community feel unheard by their elected officials - and I think the best way to ask them to support you is to show up for them, listen and understand their issues, and take action.Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering the political arena? Since your organization focuses on recruiting women to run, any advice for women specifically?I think the most important advice I can offer is to stay organized. Get all of your contacts into an Excel sheet before you run. Your Christmas Card list is the first place you should turn to for donors and volunteers, but then spend some time each week dumping the business cards you collect into that sheet as well. Especially when juggling family and professional commitments, keeping a calendar is so critical. That calendar should include the time you need to cheer on your kids at their soccer games and go to their recitals, too. Don't let your campaign-self become too different from the woman who decided to run.Q: How has the Leadership Institute helped you during your time in public service? I can't say enough good things about the Leadership Institute. I think every operative should regularly take their training, especially since the digital communications landscape is always changing.I have also had campaign interns of mine sign up for LI trainings to get their vocabulary and understanding up to speed so they can support me and give me new ideas! LI has also been a great partner to WPLN, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate and support women candidates, appointees, and operatives at all levels.Q: Many people seem disillusioned with the country's current political climate. What would you say to them to encourage them to get involved? Start working to improve your community outside of politics - it will really start to break down your cynicism. Start small! I recently began coaching a youth rugby team to give back a bit to my community, and I have not had one discussion about politics.The coaches, administrators, and parents are all working together to create a safe and healthy environment for their children to develop athletic and personal skills. Those relationships - which are built on things other than partisanship - are stronger in the face of disagreements than the volatile relationships you form on Twitter.If a problem arises in your community, step up and be willing to work with anyone else to address it - the overuse of litmus tests and cancel culture are going to isolate us more and more. This interview is from the Leadership Institute's Political and Fundraising Monthly Newsletter. When you sign up for this newsletter, you get articles on the latest in politics, interviews like this one, and you'll be the first to know about LI's political and fundraising training opportunities.
Thank Your Donors: Three Tips to Better Fundraising with Thank You Notes
Kirsten Holmberg
October 21, 2020
Thank Your Donors: Three Tips to Better Fundraising with Thank You Notes
With 2020 wrapping up, you still have much to do to ensure your fundraising efforts end on a high note. Don't let the global pandemic stop you from cultivating strong relationships with your donors, and what better way to do that than with a simple but sincere thank you letter? It's no secret non-profit organizations would be unable to achieve their missions without their generous donors. Unfortunately, not all organizations remember to prioritize donor thank you notes. Not only are thank you letters critical for proper fundraising etiquette, but thank you notes also reap financial rewards. Thanking your donors helps your organization forge better relationships with supporters, and better relationships are closely tied to increased contributions. Here are three tips you can use to craft successful and personal thank you letters.1. Be sincere. Sincerity goes a long way in a letter, and lackluster thank you notes are easy to spot. Even with the rise of digital communications, snail mail has not lost its effectiveness. Who doesn't enjoy receiving a letter in the mail? Take advantage of the reader's initial excitement and enclose a sincere message that communicates your organization's gratitude. One way to do that is to avoid generic language. For instance, never end a thank you letter with “thanks to people like you.” Does that help communicate to the donor that you value them as a unique individual? 2. Make it personal. In an in-person meeting, you wouldn't read from a script. The same should be said for your thank you notes. Avoid sounding rote by considering to whom you are writing and make it personal. Personalizing your thank you letters requires time and research, but it makes all the difference. As you learn about your donors, use that knowledge to craft your thank you notes. What makes a thank you letter more personal? Here are a few important features of a personal thank you letter. Address your donor by name. Reference their specific donation. Describe how their contribution helped. Make the donor the hero in the story of your organization. For instance, write to them and tell them how their gift made a difference to your organization's mission or the conservative movement as a whole. 3. Be prompt in your thank you notes. Timeliness is essential for maintaining strong relationships with donors. Make sure your development team is committed to a quick turn around after a donation comes in. Aim to have letters in the mail within 48 hours. A quick response communicates sincerity and enthusiasm for their contribution and shows the donor that they were not overlooked. 4. Focus on saying thank you. A common mistake in fundraising is using the donor thank you note as a vehicle to ask for more money. Do not solicit new donations or mention upcoming events. That is not the purpose of the letter. Focus on saying thank you and show your organization's gratitude. Unquestionably, this year has had its ups and downs, but one thing is for sure, you can end the fundraising year strong with a “thank you.” Your thank you letter should be sincere, include personalized content, and be sent in a timely manner. Crafting effective but personal thank you letters will help your organization forge better relationships with donors, which results in a stronger fundraising program.The Leadership Institute's Kirsten Holmberg manages LI's fundraising trainings to help conservatives succeed in their missions. After all, as Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell says, you can't save the world if you can't pay the rent. Kirsten hosts many online trainings. Grow your fundraising skills here.
There is no Free Lunch
Mauricio Bento
March 30, 2017
There is no Free Lunch
A few days ago, LI president Morton Blackwell told me that when he was a college student at LSU, he and his friends heard Milton Friedman was available to speak for free at Morton's campus group. They were eager to bring such a distinguished intellectual to their university! This “free,” of course, meant he wouldn't charge any amount for himself, but the hosts would have to pay the travel and accommodation costs. In the end, there was no free Friedman.One of the most famous Milton Friedman quotes states, “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” an ironic response to the tremendous demand for “free stuff” by the socialists he debated. The phrase meant that no government program is free. The taxpayer always pays (an expensive bill) in the end.The first time I heard this quote, I was an 18-year-old college freshman at the University of Brasilia back in Brazil, my home country. I was taking an Introduction to Economics class, and the professor repeated the quote while explaining the foundations of microeconomics. That stuck in my mind. I was not a socialist, but I believed that more government intervention – more of the right intervention – could work. I thought that because I always looked at the benefits of government programs while ignoring the costs. That quote changed everything. From that day on, I would always remember that there was no free lunch, and government programs cost too much and deliver too little.In the last two weeks, I have finished re-reading Milton Friedman's book Capitalism and Freedom, as part of my LI internship book discussion program. I felt the passion my friends and I expressed during the debate over the need for more school choice and less occupational licensing regulations in the US. Friedman was part of my freshman year in college and now is part of my freshman year as a young professional in DC. His ideas are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them.They are relevant not only in the US but also in Brazil. So relevant that Folha de Sao Paulo, the #1 national newspaper in Brazil – read by more than 20 million people every month – published an editorial within the last few weeks that has a title inspired by Friedman's quote. The article, a harsh critique on excessive regulations on airline companies, also mentions Friedman's quote in both the introduction and conclusion.Friedman won the Nobel Prize, advised President Regan, wrote best-sellers, made a TV series about economic freedom with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and now serves as inspiration for us at the Leadership Institute (LI) and even for big newspapers. Not bad at all, right?Morton always says: “In politics, nothing moves unless pushed.”Friedman pushed. Now LI keeps pushing.>
Check here for updates on the Leadership Institute’s office hours and trainings.
Leadership Institute
March 13, 2017
Check here for updates on the Leadership Institute’s office hours and trainings.
Updates on the Leadership Institute's office hours and trainings.The Comprehensive Fundraising Training is still scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 14.Digital Creative Workshop: Design - CancelledAll Online Training will start on time.If you signed up for housing, the dorms are also available for check-in tonight.Any further changes or announcements will be posted here.Please monitor local weather reports and travel safely. The leadership Institute will grant 100% refunds for any cancellations this week.>
Final 5 lessons from this week's fundraising training
Kyle Baccei
October 4, 2013
Final 5 lessons from this week's fundraising training
The week-long Comprehensive Fundraising Training -- a bootcamp on raising more funds for causes and campaigns -- finished yesterday with the second day of the Direct Mail School. You can find previous highlights from the first day, second day, and third day of the fundraising trainings this week.-----Don't use the plural. Write to one person.Rick Hendrix, Founding Partner of ClearWord Communications Group, came back to lead the final day of the Direct Mail School and Comprehensive Fundraising Training. He taught attendees how to write effective fundraising letters to their donors.Other key points:--> Know your target audience. What are their backgrounds and what are their issues? Ask yourself, who are you writing to? What are you writing about?--> The first line must grab the reader's attention. You need a strong opening.--> In the closing, restate what you want the donor to do. Ask for the gift!-----Direct mail is like a contract. You make an offer and the donor accepts it. Treat the donation like an investmnet.Robert Stuber, Director of Development at Americans for Prosperity, joined the attendees of the Direct Mail school to explain how to make an offer a donor can't refuse.Other key points:--> Donors want value -- and credibility.--> You want to have a life-long relationship with your donor. The goal: a donor giving you $15 should have such a lasting love of your organization that he or she includes it in their estate plans.--> List specifics -- about your organization and your projects -- to give you credibility. List the technical specifics to show what you will use donors' money to do.--> Be timely in your talking points. If you're not, it seems like you don't know what's going on.-----Remember that your donors are on a calendar-year schedule.Matt Waters, President of Waters Agency, was up next. He talked to attendees about how to get a fundraising letter opened, by personalizing the piece and using the calendar.Other key points:--> You want your piece to be high-quality, but you don't want to make it seem like you're investing too much money in it.--> To personalize your pieces, use multiple stamps, handwritten font, and a return address. Write in the letter.-----Be an archer. Every interaction with a donor is getting you closer to the bull's eye.Brian David of Active Engagement spoke next. He presented on the importance of online efforts to complement a direct mail fundraising program.Other key points:--> Be consistent across multiple channels (e.g. mail and email), especially with your logo.--> Know your medium. Online is great for things happening right now. Traditional mail is great for perennial issues.--> The fundamentals of online fundraising are no different than those of direct mail.-----Read My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising (on Amazon here).Richard Viguerie, Chairman of American Target Advertising, Inc., closed out the Direct Mail School and the week-long Comprehensive Fundraising Training. Often referred to as the "funding father" of the conservative movement, he shared his valuable personal and professional experience with attendees.--> A donor base is critical to your direct mail efforts.--> Understand the lifetime value of a donor. This is the key to good fundraising.Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@KyleBaccei).>
5 tips for raising money by direct mail
Kyle Baccei
October 3, 2013
5 tips for raising money by direct mail
The first day of the Direct Mail School was a busy one for attendees yesterday. The training is the second half of the Leadership Institute's Comprehensive Fundraising Training -- a week-long bootcamp on raising funds.Below are the big lessons I got from each speaker. The last round of updates will be here tomorrow.-----The right lists won't guarantee success, but the wrong list guarantees failure.Emily Lewis, the president of Lewis and Company Marketing, led off the first day of the Direct Mail School. She explained how and why direct mail fundraising works for organizations.Other key points:--> 75% of your new donors may come through direct mail.--> Direct mail empowers conservatives because it allows you to bypass media gatekeepers.--> People give because they want to shape a better future, share a purpose, get involved, and enjoy a special status.-----You should invest in prospecting if you have enough time, have enough potential donors, and have enough startup funds.Kevin Allen, Chief Operating Officer at The Richard Norman Company, explained to attendees how donor prospecting -- i.e. contacting new, potential donors who have not yet given to you -- can help you build your donor file.Other key points:--> Prospecting protects against file attrition, can advance your goals, helps you identify high-dollar donors, and can reactivate lapsed donors.--> Avoid prospecting if you won't risk losing money, if you don't have enough potential donors, or if you're not committed to mailing your house file, i.e. the donors who already give to your organization.-----Know as much as possible about your donor list(s).Rita O'Neil, president of the O'Neil Marketing Company, spoke next to attendees of the Direct Mail School. She talked about donor lists and the benefits of acquiring, borrowing, and trading them.Other key points:--> Your donor list is your most valuable asset. Treat it that way.--> Donor lists have drastically different values depending on the relationships you have built (or haven't built) in the past.-----Always give your donors credit for the good that is being done.Heather Sherlock, Donor Relations Officer at the Leadership Institute, and Jacquelyn Monaghan, Development Assistant for Major Gifts at The Heritage Foundation, spoke together on a panel to teach attendees how to build relationships with their donors.Other key points:--> Keep a running list of accomplishments to share with your donors. Tell donors specifically what their gifts are funding.--> Five ways to show you care about your donors: love what your organization does, pay attention to the details, give your donors special treatment, engage resistance, and go above and beyond what is required.----- You can't control everything. Control what you can.Rick Hendrix, Founding Partner of ClearWord Communications Group, shared his thoughts with attendees about scheduling mailers and analyzing your direct mail results.Other key points:--> Direct mail is an art and a science. The art is package and design. The science is the schedule and testing.--> Put yourself in your donors' shoes. What will be there to distract them? What holidays are coming up?--> Make sure you ask yourself these questions: what is the response rate? What is the average contribution? What is the return on investment? What is the cost to acquire a donor? What is the long-term value of a donor?Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@KyleBaccei).>
5 lessons from LI's high-dollar fundraising training
Kyle Baccei
October 2, 2013
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).>
6 takeaways from LI's High-Dollar Fundraising School (Day 1)
Kyle Baccei
September 30, 2013
6 takeaways from LI's High-Dollar Fundraising School (Day 1)
The first day of the Leadership Institute's Comprehensive Fundraising Training -- a week-long bootcamp in raising funds for campaigns and causes -- kicked off with a full day at the High-Dollar Fundraising School.If you couldn't make it, don't worry. Below are the key takeaways I learned from each speaker. More to come throughout the week.-----You can't thank your donors enough.Carsten Walter, Development Director of the Heritage Foundation, opened the training by answering the question: why do people give you money? He explained the keys of donor communication and the importance of saying thanks.Other key points:--> People give because of a cause. Ask donors about an issue and then about how passionate they are about that issue.--> Send a thank-you note to donors and thank them multiple times.--> After you thank you donors, let them know where their money went.-----The five elements of asking donors: simple, unexpected, concrete, creditable, and have emotion or stories.Ian Ivey, who works for the General Service Administration but has a long background in the conservative movement, taught attendees how to create a case for giving -- and how to make it stick.Other key points:--> Your goal is to persuade donors that what you are doing is valuable to them.--> A good "pitch" follows the same checklist: simple, unexpected, concrete, creditable, and have emotion or stories. -----Fundraising in-person or over the phone is your most cost-effective way to raise money.Nancy Bocskor, Founder of the Nancy Bocskor Company, explained to students how to raise money person-to-person, to know when to ask for money, and to know what to avoid.Other key points:--> When you're making an ask, you have 21 seconds to make your impression.--> The results of personal solicitation are immediate. Anytime you call someone rather then send them direct mail your response rate will go up five times.--> When you're asking for funds, you need to have a firm greeting, engage in small talk, make a good sales pitch, and then close the deal. -----One person can only meet so many people -- so it's important to raise money with tools like direct mail.John Davis is the Director of Donor Communications at the Leadership Institute. He talked about the benefits of having a high-dollar direct-mail fundraising program.Other key points:--> The response rate to your first letter will be around 2%. But that's alright. Your goal is to build a core group of donors.--> Don't worry about getting a "no."--> Build relationships with your donors. Make your communication as personal as you can. It's okay not to ask for money. -----Your fundraising campaign must have a mission statement that is short and to the point. It creates energy and urgency.Karla Bruno is the Director of Foundations and Corporate Relations at the Leadership Institute. She taught attendees how to use capital campaigns to help their organizations grow.Other key points:--> Capital campaigns can super-charge your fundraising program when they tap into urgency. A sense of urgency in politics is phenomenal.--> The Leadership Institute's expanded its Campus Leadership Program into new office space with multiple elements of a successful capital campaign: a clearly defined mission, a sense of urgency with a deadline for action, and a video appeal with endorsements from conservative movement leaders, including Grover Norquist and Governor Mike Pence. -----Don't treat your donors as if you're meeting them for the first time.Dick Patten, the CEO of Patten and Associates, explained to attendees how they could upgrade their donors.Other key points:--> Remember: working with your donors is about their needs and wants, not yours -- theirs. Provide engagement in all your communications with them.--> Ask your donors for their input on a report card. Look at what's been accomplished and what needs to be done.--> Create a strategic plan for upgrading donors with dates, actions, benchmarks, and goals.Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@KyleBaccei).>
CEO of Saxo Bank in Denmark Tours the U.S.
Lauren Hart
October 17, 2012
CEO of Saxo Bank in Denmark Tours the U.S.
Lars Christensen, CEO of Saxo Bank in Denmark, is touring the U.S. this week and meeting with many groups and media to share his experience of European-style socialism.Yesterday he spoke to D.C. conservatives at the Heritage Foundation."Our prosperity and security is to a much larger degree than we realize due to the U.S., and both are threatened by the U.S.' extreme acceleration towards chaos. A chaos that to a large extent is caused by Obama's economic measures that damage and indebt Americans -- and the rest of the world." Op-ed in Danish newspaper Berlingske, February 2009"His indictment of European-style socialism is stunning. His command of history and free-market principles make his presentation enthralling," Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell said. "As America stands at a crossroads between capitalism and prosperity or European-style socialism and economic decline, his message could neither be more timely nor more important. That's why I hope you'll join me on this speaking tour to hear Lars Seier Christensen, CEO of Saxo Bank in Denmark, discuss his country's socialist policies and why we don't want them."For more information on Lars and his America tour this week, please click here. >
LI’s International Leadership Training Seminar Trains 77 Conservatives From Around the World
Mikayla Hall
November 2, 2011
LI’s International Leadership Training Seminar Trains 77 Conservatives From Around the World
Last week the Leadership Institute hosted 77 representatives from 12 countries—Bolivia, Kenya, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Romani, Russia, Spain, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the United States.The International Leadership Training Seminar (ILTS) was a week-long crash course in communications, fundraising, negotiations, and on-camera techniques.Member of the Bolivian Parliament Paola Zapata Montaño said, “The Leadership Institute has made me proud of being a conservative, and has equipped me with not only the right tools, but also the right principles that motivate me to recover the democratic lifestyle that Bolivia deserves.”Notable attendees included Armando Vera, the founder and president of the Hispanic Tea Party; Paola Zapata Montaño, a member of the Bolivian parliament; Lkhagvajav Dolgorjav, the Secretariat's manager for the Democratic Party of Zavkhan province; and Dr. Ole-Ronkei Morompi, the advocacy director at Compassion International.The training was taught in/translated into English, Spanish, and Mongolian. Those in attendance learned from experts in various fields, including: Stephen Clouse, the president of Stephen D. Clouse & Associates; Ann Fitzgerald, president of A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates, LLC; and Giuseppe Gori, the president of Central Dynamics.When asked what he enjoyed about these lectures, Compassion International Advocacy Director Dr. Morompi said, “Strategic use of social media for purposes of political mobilization, fund-raising and ultimately winning an election is certainly the highlight of the training for me at LI.”After three days of intensive training at LI, the group toured the U.S. Capitol. From there, The Heritage Foundation opened their doors and gave additional lectures on the economic index, new media, and how a think tank like Heritage and a “do tank” like LI can work well with conservative activists and officials who want to make a difference.“Graduates of The Leadership Institute go on to be amazing leaders for their cause, both here in America and back in their home countries,” said Bridgett Wagner, Heritage's director of coalition relations.Before returning to their respective countries, some of the attendees offered their kind words about their time at LI.Bolivia's think tank Funbolider's President Alejandro Barja said, “This training has allowed me to change my thinking and my behavior and it has equipped me to better solve the problems of leadership we face and fulfill the needs in my region and country in a positive way.”Interested in attending a future International Leadership Training Seminar? Contact LI's Director International & Government Training Miguel Moreno at (703) 247-2000.Other Leadership Institute training is available here. >
Conservative Activists Are More Confident After LI’s High-Dollar Fundraising School
Mikayla Hall
September 23, 2011
Conservative Activists Are More Confident After LI’s High-Dollar Fundraising School
September 23, 2011, Arlington, VA--Last week the Leadership Institute broke a record of 79 students who attended LI's High Dollar Fundraising School. Attendees discovered ways to enhance the causes and candidates of their choice with effective fundraising.The expert faculty included Todd Meredith, co-owner of Morgan, Meredith & Associates; Tracey Johnson, President and CEO of Credo Strategies; and LI's own Marci LeBlanc and Steve Sutton from the development department.Attendees learned how to write grant proposals, distinguish the differences between types of donations, communicate strategically with donors, and establish a high-dollar direct mail program."The LI High Dollar fundraising workshop was extremely helpful. After completing the class, I immediately put the skills I learned to use, and have already secured additional funding for my non-profit," said GI Film Festival Executive Director Laura Law-Millett.Jerry Cave, owner of his own communications and search engine optimization company, says he plans to use the training to possibly pursue a career in advocacy. “[The] Leadership Institute is a fabulous opportunity to learn and develop new skills and meet fellow conservatives. [It was] a tremendous learning experience!”LI Intern Fredrick McKinley said he always was afraid of asking people for money, “but after attending the High-Dollar Fundraising School, [he] feels more confident that [he] will be able to successfully help a campaign raise money.”Lynda Fairman, We the People district coordinator for VA-01 and York County coordinator for Tom Harmon for VA Senate Campaign said, “LI's High Dollar Fundraising School gave me practical, ‘real world' methods that will help me while working on political campaigns and for non-profit organizations and schools. Presentations from experts in the field address everything from assessing dollars needed to asking for different levels of donations to finalizing the deposit and organizing reports, this school covers it all for success from beginning to end!”“I've already started using this knowledge to help the We the People program replace the defunded federal funds so we can continue to train teachers to teach the Constitution with non-partisan curriculum in all schools at all levels,” Lynda continued. “In addition to this job, I plan on sharing what I've learned as I work on political campaigns to help conservative candidates raise the funds needed to win elections.”“The Leadership Institute presents quality programs with expert information I can use right away. After graduating from several of their schools and their grassroots training and workshops, I highly recommend any of their classes,” Lynda said. “LI is, truly, a class act for success!”Are you interested in attending the High-Dollar Fundraising School or other Leadership Institute trainings? To register for this school and others, check out http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/training/ >
Fundraisers Needed
Andrea McCarthy
August 17, 2011
Fundraisers Needed
Let's face it, organizations need fundraisers. They need folks to write, ask, research, and plan events. Every day job listings for Directors of Development, Outside Membership Sales, Online Membership Coordinators, Directors of Major Gifts, Development Associates, and Interns are posted. While development jobs are plentiful these days, the fundraising field is competitive and only the strongest prevail. Like you, many job hunters are actively seeking a development position in the fundraising world. To set yourself apart from the competition, it is important to be armed with the political technology needed to stand out above the rest, and the Leadership Institute's High-Dollar Fundraising School can help.Hundreds of our nation's top fundraisers have attended the Leadership Institute's High Dollar Fundraising School. During this intensive two-day training you will learn keys to conducting effective fundraising events, why people give you money, tips to organize your development department, how to raise funds through personal solicitation, the nuts & bolts of private grant proposals, how to raise large donations from annuities, donated assets, and bequests, and much more! The next High Dollar Fundraising School will be held on September 12-13 at Leadership Institute headquarters in Arlington, VA. Registration for this class usually costs $150, but for ConservativeJobs.com users, it's only $60 when you use the promotion code HDFSCJ. For only $60 you will learn the ins and outs of development and fundraising from our expert faculty, enhance your resume, and expand your network. Meals, lodging, and all course materials are covered in the school cost. While lodging in our Leadership Institute dormitory is free, space is limited so make sure to register today!As an added bonus, when you register for the Leadership Institute's High-Dollar Fundraising School you are admitted FREE into our Online Fundraising Workshop the evening of September 12th! This live lecture will teach you how to develop an online fundraising strategy and utilize a diverse set of tools and media.Don't miss this incredible opportunity to learn from fundraising professionals and hone your development skills! Register today!>
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