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Lessons from The Art & Science of Fund Development

By May 2, 2012March 30th, 2014Development

I recently had the honor and fun of co-presenting a day-long session with Richard Tollefson of The Phoenix Philanthropy Group and Brian Saber of Asking Matters.


We delivered a session for Social Venture Partners International (SVPI) staff and board members called The Art and Science of Fund Development.

It’s not a simple task to combine three strong personalities into a seamless experience for the participants. With a bit of pre-planning, the assistance of technology, and graciousness to really work together we were able to share some of the best of what each of us has to offer to a packed room.

Here are some of the lessons we touched on:

  • It’s easier and more impactful to focus on development (i.e. increasing public understanding and combining that with acquiring financial support), rather than asking everyone on your team to go out and raise money.
  • Keeping messages clear and bold causes the listener or reader to feel something and want to take action.
  • A personally significant gift doesn’t have to be a million dollars. It is a gift one thinks long and hard about.
  • Listening is 50% or more of the conversation when asking for money.
  • Know and share how much you must raise, all year-long, with interesting updates via mail, email, or in-person.
  • Play to your strengths. Allow board members to do things like make thank you calls and accompany you on an ask to tell why they love your work. Don’t put them in an uncomfortable position.
  • Make sure to share real-life examples that paint a picture of the impact of your work.
  • Start with the “insiders” who are already in your community when you want to do more.

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