Fundraising During National Disasters


The overwhelming misery and human need emerging from the recent hurricanes impacting Florida, Texas and Louisiana have prompted Americans of good will to give generously to charities who provide direct aid to the victims. Athletes, celebrities and civic leaders have stepped forward and provided leadership for donations to meet the enormous needs of our fellow citizens.

It is inspiring to see the nation come together, putting aside differences, with generous donations in times of national disaster. History would suggest that millions of individual Americans will donate to relief organizations in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

As fundraisers, we wonder if donor fatigue sets in, and if maybe we should put a pause on our own fundraising efforts until the unfolding human tragedy fades from the front pages and the nightly news broadcasts. The answer is an emphatic NO!

We know at least two things from prior national emergencies. One is that the increased giving to meet the emergency will persist into the second year, so it makes absolutely no sense to try to “wait out” the period of donations to relief organizations.

The second thing we know is that there is no evidence of diminished giving to other non-profits following national disasters. Now is still the best time and the only time to make the case in the strongest possible terms, for financial support for your organization. Fundraising is not a zero sum enterprise. You are not competing for limited dollars with the legitimate and compelling needs of other people. You are only competing to tap in to the endless generosity of the human heart.

Remember, people give to your mission. Your mission is important to your donors before, during, and after a national emergency. If you haven’t already done so, make a donation to a relief organization to help the victims of the hurricanes. But after you do so, get to work on your next fundraising appeal for your non-profit organization!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions


Ready, Set, Give!


Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was a designed in response to commercialization in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).  This past year, 98 countries participated and over $177,000,000 was raised.  The number of organizations participating in Giving Tuesday continues to grow – 34,000 and counting.   Due to this growth and increased awareness, I am confident that your Board members, donors and other constituents will want to know how your organization will “get in on the action”.

Now is the time to plan!  The Giving Tuesday website,, offers a wealth of information, including a timeline and toolkits, to help you launch a successful Giving Tuesday campaign.  And, if your organization is located in Illinois, be sure to register and participate in, #ILGive.  #ILGive is an initiative of Forefront (Illinois’ state association of grantmakers, nonprofits, and advisors to the sector), that raises money for Illinois communities, brings in new donors, and increases awareness about local nonprofits while leveraging the national marketing of #GivingTuesday.

Since they have provided the details, I will simply add a few pointers of my own, which come from lessons learned with clients over the past few years.

Be cohesive in your approach

If your organization does a Holiday appeal, be sure that your Giving Tuesday messaging is consistent with your appeal.  For example, if you are sharing a success story about a client in your Holiday appeal, tell a related story in your Giving Tuesday campaign.  I have often found that the “simpler the better”.  Inspire your donors by sharing one cohesive storyline.  And don’t forget to include photos!

Make it personal

Because there is a chance that donors will grow weary of the number of emails, posts and requests they receive in a 24-hour period and may begin ignore requests altogether, try and personalize your emails as much as possible.  Include the recipient’s name in the body of the email and utilize a creative subject line.

Giving Tuesday also provides a great opportunity to enlist your Board members and volunteers.  Ask them to forward the Giving Tuesday email/link to their contacts and include a personal message about why the organization is important to them.  Recipients are more likely to open an email from a friend – and they are more likely to give when there is a personal connection.

Utilize a match

Big or small, the use of a matching gift is inspirational to donors.  If you have a donor who is interested in providing a match or challenge for Giving Tuesday, take advantage!  Donors love it when their gift goes farther.  If you do have a matching or challenge gift, try and keep it as simple as possible.  For example, the Smith Foundation will match every dollar raised up to $2,500.  A challenge is also a good way to inspire new donors; for example, the Smith Foundation will match all new gifts 2:1, so for every dollar a new donor gives, the Smith Foundation will donate $2. 

Watch your timing

While you want to be sure your donors are aware of – and donate on – Giving Tuesday, be strategic.  Consider sending an email the week before to let them know Giving Tuesday is just around the corner.  When the big day arrives, consider sending two (or three, at most) emails to your constituents.  The first could be timed to arrive when people are getting to work or starting their day.  The second could be sent in the evening, when people are arriving home or winding down for the day.   That said, it is important not to inundate your donors; by sending too many emails, they may simply delete them all.

by: Susan Bottum Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Taking the Long View


I was fortunate enough to see the musical Hamilton recently, and it reminded me to take the long view of our nation’s history.  Among its themes:  change is contentious, governing is difficult, and consensus is rare.

We fundraisers deal with change and governance in our organizations, and we seek consensus about our next moves.  If your organization has a history that spans several decades, I encourage you to take the long view of your fundraising efforts.

Maybe your CEO wants to know how s/he is doing with fundraising, and wonders whether the expectations that are set are realistic.  Maybe your board has become more active in recent years and needs some encouragement that their efforts are in fact paying off with improved fundraising results.  All of us—executives, volunteers, and fundraising staff—want to know whether the results we are achieving are positive for the organization.

Looking at an annual report will tell you some of what you want to know, but taking the long view will tell you more!  Here’s all you need to do.  Gather up all of your year-end numbers for the last twenty, thirty, or forty years.  Take only one number from each of those years:  total funds raised (at year end)Then make a second column, adjusted for CPI to 2017 dollars (you can find the formula for adjusting any calendar year into current year dollars anywhere on the internet).  From there, it is easy to group the results into decades, and to come up with a total for the decade and an average per year over each decade, all in 2017 dollars.

Fundraising is challenging work, but taking the long view may help your organization see the positive results that come from building your program over time.  As Alexander Hamilton would say:  “History has its eyes on you!”

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Engaging the New Philanthropists


Thank you to Just Write Solutions Senior Consultant Lisa M. Sihvonen-Binder, MS NMP, for today’s blog.

Millennials. It’s a term we hear a lot on the news, see on social media, and read about in professional publications. Studies show that older generations (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers) get frustrated when trying to interact with them. Who are they? What do they want? How do you communicate with them? How do you get them to communicate with you?

The answers are simple, really. They’re people. They’re people born between 1980-2000. They’re sometimes called “lazy” and the “Me Generation.” While I personally feel there’s some truth to that, we need to understand this generation was raised differently – with fast changing technology, helicopter parents, and a world where acceptance of others and personal freedoms really began to blossom.

For this Gen Xer, born in the late 1960s, I’ve experienced frustrations in communicating with Millennials. I know it takes extra effort on my part and as an individual, I can learn to adapt to the current climate. But how can nonprofit organizations engage this generation that moves fast, likes communications short, and gives to causes they care about if their needs are being met?

Here are some tips I found in “9 Insights on Millennials When it Comes to Philanthropy” (by Brady Josephson at re: that might make it easier or more successful.

Of 75,000 Millennials surveyed by The Millennial Impact:

  • More updates – 43% of Millennials want to hear from organizations they donate to monthly. 79% prefer to get updates on the agency’s programs and services while 56% are okay with getting information about fundraising events
  • Send them email – 93% prefer to receive information via email
  • Give them opportunities for monthly giving – 52% are interested in giving monthly
  • Matching donations spur interest in giving – 71% said they’re more motivated to give if their gift is matched by another source
  • Ask them to help fundraise – 70% are willing to help raise funds for an organization they like
  • Give them reasons to trust you – 84% said they are most likely to donate if they trust the organization. Is your agency maintaining transparency? Are you communicating impacts, successes, challenges?

Want more information on generational differences that might impact donor behavior or communication? Check out this “Generational Differences Chart” by the West Midland Family Center in Shepherd, Michigan. What do you think? Does it accurately capture the traits of generations from Traditionalists to Millennials?

We’d love to hear your take. What challenges have you experienced in engaging Millennials? How did you overcome them? What are your success stories?

Countdown to the End of the Fiscal Year


With spring weather approaching (we can only hope!), I find myself gearing up to clean out closets, wash windows and get things in order at home.  I want to be ready to spend more time outside…running (because it’s finally light outside in the morning), working in the garden, riding bikes and watching my son play baseball.

At the office, I also find myself readying for a new season…and also counting down to the end of the fiscal year.  As most non-profits close the year on June 30, we are in the final stretch to meet our fundraising goals.  It’s a good time to review our budgets…and see where we may be up a little (cheers!) or still have a ways to go.  Now is a good time to take a hard look at each revenue bucket and make final adjustments to our plans to reach…or maybe even exceed our goals.

Is your Gala just around the corner?  Maybe it would be beneficial to add a few more visits with potential sponsors or underwriters.  Enlist your committee or board members and ask each one to bring an additional prospect to the table.   If you have a major gift program, make a mini pyramid of prospects and list the potential gifts that you could work to secure from now to the close of the fiscal year.

How about a spring mailing?  Gone are the days when not for profits only send out one mail appeal at the close of the calendar year.  I’ve found that a spring mailing that asks for support of a special project or has a matching component can go a long way.  Some years ago, one of my clients mailed packets of Forget Me Not seeds to lapsed donors.  Another organization asked their alumnae to make gifts in variations of 3’s… a number special to the organization.  All of these direct mail pieces were complimented by email blasts that were sent before and after the mailing and included options for giving online.  These ideas were creative and not overly complicated, they didn’t break the bank, and, they made it simple for the donor to make a gift.

As we tweak our year-end activities, it’s also perfect timing to begin thinking about our plans for the next fiscal year.  What worked well this year?  What didn’t?  What projects were on the list that we weren’t able tackle?  I always find that a short-term plan with clear goals and specific metrics helps guide me to the finish line.  It’s my short burst to complete the marathon of the fiscal year.  As you gear up for spring, both at home and at the office, enjoy the sunlit mornings, warmer weather and, cheers to your well-mapped out trek to close another successful year!

by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

The Value of Proof(ing)


If you are responsible for producing an annual report for your nonprofit, I have a piece of advice that could save you embarrassment and preserve your major donors.

Build time into your production timeline for a preliminary mailing of the annual report proof to your donors. This should be marked “proof” and be accompanied by a letter asking the donor to confirm the accuracy of their name on the donor list in the report.  This proof is sometimes referred to as a “blue line” mailing, which is an old printing term from a time when a printers proof actually appeared in blue text.

In a rush to get the annual report in the mail, we didn’t take this extra step with my client last year. That was a mistake. We heard from two important donors.  In one instance, names were duplicated and appeared in two different giving levels, each of which were more modest levels than where they should have been listed.

A second long time donor was disappointed that we had not called out separately, the names of her family and friends who made donations in memory of her mother.

These both could have been easily caught ahead of time if the proof had been mailed out. I am happy (and relieved) that these oversights have not affected the relationship with these two donors, each of whom receives services for their loved ones at this particular nonprofit. But there are literally thousands of new nonprofits entering the marketplace each year…all vying for attention, love and loyalty by OUR valued donors. Obviously we cannot control this, but there is no room for error in our communication with our investors. Nothing should jeopardize their faith or erode trust in our nonprofit. So this year, for the important things that we can control, let’s be sure we are all on our “A Game” and use the blue line proof.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Making the Most of Your Holiday Down Time


Your holiday appeals have been sent.  Giving Tuesday has come and gone.  The hectic pace of preparing for the season is starting to slow.  You finally have a few moments to catch your breath.  I am hopeful this season has been positive for you and your organization and I commend you on making it through this busy time.  As the year comes to a close, here are a few ideas to help your 2017 start on a positive note.

First and foremost, take some time away. 

Whether you have plans to travel or simply plan to stay home during the holidays, I encourage you to take at least some time away from the office – which includes your email and voicemail.  By completely “unplugging” you will find renewed energy and will be ready to begin the year anew.

Take advantage of a quiet office. 

On those days when you are in the office, enjoy the peace.  Clear off your desk and clean out your files.  Arriving into the office after the New Year and finding your space “clutter-free” (or at least “clutter-reduced”) will feel awesome.

Take advantage of a quiet office, part 2.

If you are in the office, take time to connect with a colleague – perhaps someone you don’t often spend time with during the work day.  Invite a coworker out to lunch.  Learn something interesting about your organization from another perspective.

Take advantage of a quiet office, part 3.

Use this time to write a few personal notes or place “thank you” calls to donors or other friends of the organization.  Consider reaching out to someone you normally don’t correspond with or see very often, just to let them know you are thinking of them this holiday season.

Give thanks.

In this wonderful, yet hectic, time of year, it is easy to forget to say thanks…thanks to donors, volunteers, coworkers, friends.  Each day, take a few minutes to think about those who make your life joyful; then, be sure to let those people know how they are special to you.

Wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and joyous holiday season.

by: Susan Matejka, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

New Workshop, New Website and a New World Series


While it may not be generating the same kind of press that the Chicago Cubs are getting in advance of their World Series appearance, the team at HPS has some exciting information to share with you.

First, we will be hosting our next workshop, Development Can Be Tough: How to Overcome Challenges and Drive Success on Thursday November 3rd.  As development professionals, we have all experienced challenges working with key volunteers, fellow staff members and donors, right?  Come join us for an interactive workshop where we’ll focus on:

  • Overcoming barriers to achieving both personal and organizational development goals
  • Reallocating resources to drive sustainable success in your development program
  • More effectively allocating your time—especially if you’re feeling like there’s never enough

Come with your list of challenges and we will help you learn how to tackle them—even if one may be looking at you in the mirror!

Thursday, November 3rd 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

HPS Offices at HUB Midwest International

55 E. Jackson Blvd., 12th floor Chicago, IL 60604



Please contact Michelle Jimenez at or 773.818.5605. Seating is limited so please sign up today before the workshop fills up.

And, in between now and Nov 3rd, we are pleased to invite you to visit our fancy new website @

In keeping with our profession, we’ll continue developing the site in the weeks and months ahead.

For now though, we’d love to hear your initial reactions and to learn what kind of content and/or resources might be helpful to you and your team as we build out the site moving forward. There’s a feedback tool on the website or you can always send us a message via the “Contact” page.

Thanks for your help and, as always, if there’s anyone you know who would be interested in attending our upcoming workshop or learning more about how HPS might be able to help them out, feel free to share details about Nov 3rd and our new website address with them!

Re-Framing the Narrative: Is this a $500 problem or a $500,000 one?


One of my clients was recently telling me how much she was looking forward to making her first million dollar ask. Like many development professionals, this was clearly an item on her bucket-list.

I inquired if there was any correlation between the amount of an ask and the level of anxiety she might experience in relationship to the solicitation–sharing the adage that, “the number of zeros make absolutely no difference.”  My client’s less than enthusiastic response was mostly anticipated. “Oh sure, that’s easy to say, but a lot harder to manage when we’re talking about a gift like that!

That’s when I offered up a different idea that a blazingly intelligent colleague once shared with me. What if, instead of leading with the dollar amount, we focused our conversations with donors on the problems they care about solving?

In other words, what if we re-frame the narrative of the ask?

The organization was launching an exciting new initiative that was, no doubt, going to speak to the philanthropic passions of a number of our key donors. After sharing details about the initiative, the impact it could have for youth in our community and confirming the donor’s anticipated buy-in, I suggested we pose the following questions: “Given the opportunity this new program offers, where does helping to solve this problem rank in terms of your philanthropic priorities? From your perspective, is this a $500 problem or a $500,000 problem?”

While there are absolutely times when it is best to present a specific number to a donor, this approach has proven quite effective when we know that the campaign priority or major gift initiative truly aligns with the donors’ specific philanthropic desires. The idea here is to help our donors shift from focusing on the amount of a gift to how they might fully embrace the role they wish to play in solving a problem they deeply care about.

At the end of the day, that’s one of the most rewarding aspects of our work as fundraisers, helping people achieve their goals to make the world a better place. And when we can have a conversation centered on that, it makes it a whole lot easier to stop fretting over the number of zeros.

by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

What’s on your summer reading list?

By Tim Kennedy, Senior Consultant, HUB Philantropic Solutions

If you are like me, your Facebook feed is full of friends asking for the best summer read. And while we all will and should indulge in the summer reading books it’s also a great time to keep up to date on our industry and the latest trends.

With so many types of resources available whether it’s research studies, reports and the latest Giving USA data and through so many channels such as social media, blogs (especially this one), conferences, webinars, websites and newsletters it can be overwhelming to read and dissect them all.

A colleague recently shared an article with me in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on Women in Philanthropy. It was an impactful piece on the ever changing demographic changes in philanthropy and how “women are primed to wield philanthropic power as never before.” I shared the article with a few of the boards that I work with and many responded how much they enjoyed the read.

It reminded me that it’s always good to share these types of articles and reports to fellow staff, leadership and the board members we work with to make sure everyone involved with the organization continues to stay informed.

It also reminded me of the pile that is accumulating on my home desk. I have articles from the Chronicle, Inside Philanthropy and Nonprofit Times piled up that I need to get to this summer. It’s our job as fundraisers to remain on top of the latest giving trends, donor habits and foundation funding strategies to name a few.

While the pile on my night stand can be daunting, I’m committed to making sure I leverage all of this information to stay informed and up to date. A colleague recently recommended a book entitled Asking by Jerold Panas so I’ve added it to my summer reading list. I’ll be sure to let you know what I learn.

Happy Summer. Happy Reading