What Are the Dangers of Having an Angel Donor?

Are there downsides to having a donor (or two or three) who effectively secures our entire Annual Fund campaign each year? Or who provides most of our capital campaign (or major gifts program) giving?  Does posing this question make me sound insane? I mean, why would we not want to have the extraordinary generosity of a family (or a few …

How Can You Know if Your School is Prepared for a Capital Campaign?

There is a very good reason that schools and other organizations only endeavor to launch a capital campaign every five to ten years. Capital campaigns are big and hard and scary. While they have the power and potential to transform an organization and its program, helping to better deliver on the promise of its mission, they are also risky. What …

What Should We Do When We Make a Donor Angry?

Imagine what goes on in the mind of a donor when he decides to make a big gift to your school… Something got him amped up – maybe attending an event or reading about a recent accomplishment. Sometimes we know the moment that ignited this generous impulse because we ourselves created it. (Go us!) But many times, maddeningly, we don’t. …

How Do We Get a 100% Return On Our Annual Fund Appeal Letters?

True success story: a client reported back to me on a pretty far out-there strategy we had developed last summer for their Annual Fund approach to returning parents. Would you believe me if I told you that she is seeing almost 100% return? That nearly every family is increasing its giving substantially, stretching (in some cases) to reach the new, …

How Do We Create Word-of-Mouth Buzz With Our Donors?

You’ve no doubt heard the story: the little boy who left his cherished stuffed giraffe Joshie behind at a Ritz Carleton hotel. The child is distraught, naturally. So the father defaults to his go-to tactic: he tells a white lie. He assures his son is that Joshie is fine and just decided to stay on a few extra days for …

How Can We Train Volunteers To Be Superstars For Our Campaigns?

I’m a big believer in training. And practice. I’ve written before about the importance of practicing how to ask for support. How we need to strike the right balance between being sharp and focused in our approach, but also relaxed and confident. And how that balance is best achieved by doing it, a lot. For those of us with dozens …

How Do We Become Schools That Truly Value Teachers?

With huge gratitude to the brilliant mind of Gordon MacKenzie and re-reading his astonishingly smart and creative book “Orbiting the Giant Hairball”, I’ve been moved to write about our typical organizational charts and how we might think about them in a very different, and perhaps better, way. Most schools operate within a pyramid structure to depict their orgs. Something like …

How Can We Make Our School’s Annual Auction More Successful?

I am going to start by admitting to a bias that won’t shock you, if you’ve read my post about phon-a-thons. I, Barbara Barron, am not a huge fan of annual school galas and auctions. There. I said it! I imagine you’re reading this because you feel similarly. Perhaps you’re the sole person in charge of pulling off an enormous …

How Do I Get Rid of My School’s Phonathon and Raise More Money?

I’m not sure what’s in the water, but twice in the past month, I’ve found myself in conversations with clients about a fundraising practice I thought had ended decades ago: phonathons. Phonathons? Really?! For those who missed this classic 1980’s practice, a phonathon is a fundraising event in which a handful of volunteers gather in a central location to call donors …

How Can We Raise Money for Debt Reduction and Cash Reserves?

Once upon a time, I was hired to build a major gifts program to reduce debt and build cash reserves. Exciting, right? I remember conferring with some professional friends at a conference shortly after I started. “Good luck, Barbara!” one of them said. “That’s what I’d call unsexy money.” Funny. And kinda true. Building the cash reserves for a school is …