Some days the work of a fundraiser is not easy. But stories like this one can remind you why a fundraising career is the right choice.

Have you ever had one of those affirming moments where your inner voice says you have made the right choice – you are on the right path?

Let me share a story with you. 

A story about a young woman and her father, and the gentleman who changed their lives. 

The story.

When I was Director of Development at an independent school there was a young woman who had received a full scholarship for four years.  She was a great student, active in student life and well respected by her peers.  She was even graduating with honors.

On graduation day her family came to celebrate her achievements, proud as can be. Her father was literally bursting with pride. He beamed with joy.

The scholarship fund that had funded the young woman’s education had been created by a gentleman and his wife. They also came to witness her graduation.   

I had the special honor of introducing the young woman’s father to the donors.  Full of joy, pride and gratitude the father took the donor’s hand in both of his and just held them.  The two stood with their hands clasped – tears in both their eyes. 

To this day, it is a moment I treasure.  For in that one moment, I saw the true meaning of what fundraising is all about. That was my affirming moment and I knew I had made the right choice to pursue a career in fundraising.

So how did i get to that moment?

An affirming moment. How I got started in fundraising.

Many years ago, when I was nearing the completion of my MBA,  I didn’t have a clear idea of what my next step would be.  I was selling real estate to fund graduate school and I knew that was a means, not an end.  This question kept coming up -what was I going to do with my career and my life? 

A friend and I talked this over. She suggested I might like, and be good at, fundraising. 

She said I had the right personality and the “smarts.”

Before I knew it, my friend set up a meeting with her father, who was a fundraising consultant. Fast forward and within two months I had a job with the consulting firm as an assistant campaign director.

A fundraising career was born.

As I look back on those early experiences, I am filled with gratitude.  A young thirty-something woman embarking on a new journey – suddenly I was working with smart and passionate professionals. And I was working with donors looking to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Whether through education, healthcare, child welfare, animal welfare, the arts and many more, I found that the desire to generate goodwill in the world is the key motivation for giving.

This is my inspiration every day.

Some days the work of a fundraiser is not easy.  My career has certainly had its ups and downs.  But on days when things are not going as well as I hoped – I remember the story of that young woman, her father and the gentleman.  This story always reminds me why I do what I do. And I smile and know I made the right choice.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you, especially our personal stories. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.

Secrets to Maintaining Your Capital Campaign’s Momentum

The Magic of Capital Campaign Momentum

Is your organization enjoying the benefits of robust capital campaign momentum? In fact, many campaigns struggle to maintain this important success factor.  

Momentum is a magic quality that can speed things along in your campaign like an ocean wave. When there is positive energy and momentum, everything is working in your favor.

Your volunteer campaign leaders feel the spark.

They are in action, in touch with you and each other. They’re talking often with you and other volunteers – collaborating on strategy to nail major and mega gifts for your campaign.

Your board knows that things are going well.

This means they are supportive, encouraged, and positive. They show up for campaign events. They cheerlead the staff. They are willing to spend money on the campaign when they see gifts flowing in.

 Best of all, positive momentum attracts donors.

When gifts are coming in often, and there are celebrations everywhere, new donors get inspired. They feel the energy of a successful cause, and join the bandwagon.  Your campaign literally attracts donors. 

This week we are sharing three ways to encourage, manage and maintain that magic spark of momentum.  These are also our top three strategies we use to keep client campaigns moving forward vigorously. 

And if you are thinking about capital campaigns – be sure to check out our new 5-part course.

How Do You Create and Maintain Capital Campaign Momentum?

 It starts with you. 

Often, it’s up to the staff to provide inspiration. Your own personal energy is infectious. Your smile encourages others to smile. And more, your can-do attitude inspires everyone else to be positive. 

1. Focus on Positive Steps – No Negativity Allowed

If you are trying to change the world, you don’t get there by worrying about failure. 

You have to keep your eye on the horizon. Stay focused on your goal and the wonderful possibilities of your campaign. And remind everyone of the vision for the future. 

 Any group of people – a board, a campaign committee – can easily be swayed by a naysayer who speaks strongly and negatively. You need to put a stop to it immediately, if at all possible. 

2. Use Your Consultants

Consultants play a vital leadership role in a campaign. Once the board develops trust and confidence in us, then they will listen to an objective third party. 

In our experience, we have been able to dig campaigns out of a roadblock and move forward, solely by focusing on a few positive and achievable next steps. 

Also, we like to keep in close contact with our campaign clients. We are constantly on the phone or a zoom meeting with board leaders, key volunteers, and staff. It is important for a consultant to stay in touch, always willing to provide leadership and a careful guiding hand to keep the momentum going. 

Keep people focused on their “to-do” list. That is our strategy. What are positive steps they can take right now – this week and this month – to be sure the campaign is moving along?  

Consultants often are an experienced and objective guiding hand to help maintain capital campaign momentum. If you have a consultant to help your campaign reach its goal, be sure to use them (or us)!

 3. Make Sure Big Meetings are Well Organized and Encouraging

Campaign and board meetings can be pivotal to your momentum. They can either foster a lack of energy – or positive momentum. Good energy or a sour tone. We’ve all been there. 

One of our secrets is to hold fast-paced, high-energy campaign and board meetings. We intentionally prep our speakers, design the agenda, and set up positive news – these steps are surprisingly crucial to maintaining successful campaign momentum.

Yes, these steps take time. It takes time to coach presenters and engage with meeting participants in advance. And these steps may seem less important than other activities.

But this is truly what it takes to implement a successful gathering of key leaders. You don’t want to leave this to chance – too many things can go wrong. 

Bottom Line: Maintaining Your Capital Campaign Momentum  

It’s up to you. Momentum can make or break your campaign. So be positive, use your consultants for leadership and guidance, and always stage your big meetings carefully. 

More Secrets to Successful Capital Campaigns

This in-depth 5-part webinar series shows you how to adapt, change, and successfully execute your institution’s campaign – even during these uncertain, unfamiliar days. 

If you are running a capital campaign, now or in the future, make sure to check out our powerful new course by clicking the link below. 

Capital Campaigns in Times of Crisis: 5 Keys to Success – Access Now


Do you have any idea how important your work is as a nonprofit leader?

You are making it happen day after day, my friend.

All fundraisers are stalwart nonprofit leaders.

Whatever your role in your organization, you are doing such important work!

You may not have the support you need — or enough resources to do good fundraising. . . .

But you are still plugging away, creating such good in the world.

I just have to tell you how much I personally appreciate what you are doing.

There are plenty of people out there in the world who you touch. You are appreciated more than you know!

Here are my encouraging words for you: 

Go for it!

You are probably one of the most dedicated people you know.

You’ve been wearing the monkey on your back for a long time, and you know it.

As a nonprofit leader, you have one of the most important jobs on earth – bringing in the resources to make the world a better place.

Never forget that!

Take a stand.

Draw a line in the sand about what you are willing to do and what you won’t do.

Confront people who block you, who mock you, or who try to hold you back.

Push back.

Create risk. And accept risk. What do you really have to lose?

Why not tell people that they can’t have it both ways.

They can’t have this new sexy fundraising strategy that they have just thought up, and still get the major gifts you need in the door.

Never be satisfied with the status quo.

You know and I both know that status quo is not acceptable. It’s deadly and deadening.

Status quo is much loved by those who want to make everyone comfortable.

But it subverts the change we need to bring to the world.

Be part of the solution.

Neutrality is not an option. You are either a part of the solution or a part of the problem.

Take a minute and watch this moving and remarkably inspirational closing plenary address.

It’s by Kumi Naidoo, when he was  Executive Director of Greenpeace International, at the International Fundraising Congress.

Know that you are not alone. Remember the ethical responsibility we all share to work for the common good.

Work the big ideas.

Find donors who only want big ideas.

This is where the energy and power is – in the big ideas that shift everything.

Smart nonprofit leaders get out to the field, recharge, and see those big ideas in action!

Create positive energy.

Be a source of optimism for those around you.

Your donors will feel your positive attitude.

Your colleagues will appreciate it. And you’ll change the world faster.

You’ll be operating from spirit .  .  .  not ego.

Have some fun.

People want to have fun.

Your donors, your staff, and your family – all want to have some fun.

Remember my #1 fundraising motto: “When in doubt throw a party!”

When you are having fun, you attract more people and donors to your cause. Everything becomes easier.

Take excellent care of yourself.

The better your self-care – the more good energy you can share with everyone.

Insist on taking your vacation. Close up your computer on the weekends.

Read Beth Kanter’s book: The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit! 

Set an example for others. (Call me if you have second thoughts about this!)

Create a team.

You can’t do it by yourself.

Keeping the monkey only on your own back won’t change the world. (Neither will working yourself to death.)

Pull your team together and set shared goals so you can create shared successes.

Build a support community for yourself.

Fundraising can be a lonely job.

You need the support of your colleagues and friends in our field – whether they are on the other side of the world or next door.

Remember that’s what AFP is for!

Find the nonprofit leader in the mirror.

Let’s not wait for leaders to change. The world needs YOU right now!

Philanthropy and fundraising really need more leaders. And that means you.

WE really are the safety net of society.  Perhaps WE are the heroes.

This is your moment.

We fundraisers have the priviledge of doing our work. We have the knowledge and we have the skills.

Sure, there are days when we all have self doubt.

But the world would be an incredibly worse place — a much more pessimistic place — without you, my friend.

This entire post is my call to action to you.

I’m here to support you, you fabulous nonprofit leader!

I’m here to help you in any way I possibly can. I’m your colleague, your partner in crime, your teammate.

I’ve got your back. Email me if you ever need me.

I’m here to remind you that you already know the answers.

And you know what to do. The world needs you – really!

Rock on, my friend!

Life’s short and the world is calling to us!