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Perry Jowsey


Author's Posts

Be Thankful for Nonprofit Fundraising Expertise

by Perry Jowsey on Nov 29, 2018 10:20:33 AM

Fundraising professionals are a unique subset in the nonprofit industry.  There is pressure to perform in an ultra-competitive marketplace, and the focus on dollars often removes them from the direct connection to community good that often motivates employees to join the sector in the first place. 

Sometimes a unique dynamic takes shape where fundraisers are put in isolation as the sole factor in an agency’s financial health.  “We didn’t double our budget this year, so let’s blame Angela – it’s her job to raise money.”  Rationale like this neglects the interdependent system necessary for revenue results – demonstrated strength in accounting systems, operations, and program evaluation – yet it is often a reality for development pros. 

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Topics: Nonprofit fundraising staff, Fundraising

Identify These Traits When Hiring Nonprofit Fundraising Staff

by Perry Jowsey on Oct 18, 2018 9:50:36 AM

Just as it is crucial to use a criteria-based method in selecting and retaining nonprofit marketing and fundraising consultants, so too it is essential to hire staff with the traits identified with fundraising success.  Get it right and your organization is poised for short and long-term revenue growth.  Get it wrong, and you set your organization back a minimum of 3 years. 

So, what are the ‘must haves’ a development professional should bring to the table that will help build a culture of success?  During my nearly 20 years in this business, I’ve found that a diverse combination of some obvious characteristics as well as some less intuitive ones yields the greatest return.

If you are leading an executive search for a fundraising staff member, the candidate with all the following attributes will provide the maximum return on investment:

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Topics: Nonprofit fundraising staff

Fastest Path to Nonprofit Revenue Growth: Major Donor Upgrades

by Perry Jowsey on Sep 11, 2018 1:38:40 PM

In every nonprofit organization, there is a great deal of focus on bringing in new donors each year. Sometimes, irrational optimism takes hold with offices envisioning a herd of new unicorns marching through the door – first-time donors making five-figure gifts that will transform the agency for years to come. 

Needless to say, such reality is seldom witnessed. More importantly, lost among these dream visions are the single greatest asset to nonprofit fundraising growth – existing major donors. 

The prevailing school of thought responsible for this misdirection is the Atlas-complex that deifies giving at a certain level, especially among early supporters.  The thinking supposes that donors just tap out at a certain level and it would be audacious to ask them to do more, perpetuating one of the greatest fallacies in philanthropy.

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Topics: Fundraising, Nonprofit Marketing, Major Donors

3 Immediate Steps for Financially Failing Nonprofits

by Perry Jowsey on Aug 6, 2018 4:28:55 PM

Last month I designed an interactive assessment for nonprofit finances, designed to provide an immediate snapshot to help evaluate and monitor nonprofit health.  Taking stock of this sort is more important now than ever before.  According to Forbes in 2016, half of nonprofits are set up to fail – and that was in the midst of economic boom predating current year predictions of a $20 Billion charitable giving decrease. 

Although budgeting with a downward and declining revenue projection is a dominant reality for nonprofits entering 2019, some are far more vulnerable to market forces.  You might be working for an organization where the ‘writing is on the wall’, perhaps through several years of budget deficits and hemorrhaging of cash.  Or, it might hit you out of the blue, like corporate giant Bear Stearns in 2008 – dissolving overnight after posting its first quarter of revenue loss in a more than 80-year history. 

Whatever path has led you here, if you’re among the 10% or so that scored under 20 on my assessment, your organization has a terminal diagnosis. Just as with any diagnosis this severe, the alternatives are to accept the fate and focus on getting affairs in order for the inevitable end, or to fight to the end with optimism and embracing all experimental remedies.  

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Topics: Nonprofit, Fundraising

A 10 Question Quiz to Assess Your Fundraising and Nonprofit Health

by Perry Jowsey on Jul 20, 2018 3:58:09 PM

July is a natural time to take stock of your nonprofit organizational health. 

For most, it is the beginning of a new fiscal year, and for most others, it marks the mid-way point of current operations.  In any case, the final 4 months of the calendar year are central to nonprofit fundraising success.

While no one formula or set of circumstances can guarantee failure or success, there are some core areas where best performing organizations thrive, and where those who cannot hit these structural benchmarks languish or dissolve.

We’ve used these principles to put together this quiz as a tool for your organizational self-assessment. 

Are you poised for a fundraising windfall this year, or is a precarious future lurking around the corner?  Complete the answers below and use the scoring key to determine your results.

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Topics: Nonprofit, Fundraising

Three Ways to be More Personal in Nonprofit Fundraising

by Perry Jowsey on May 13, 2018 4:39:12 PM

Dear Donor,

Don’t take this personally.  This letter has been auto-generated by a moderately priced software program, but it will make no attempt to use your name, speak to you individually, or make any reference to your contribution history.  You should feel lucky, however, because we know many nonprofit organizations won’t bother to send you a letter at all.  We appreciate your continued support.

Not so sincerely, your soon to be former charity of choice.


Hyperbole aside, nonprofit organizations are communicating with donors like this every day.  Generic correspondence is pushed out at arbitrary intervals, hoping for substantial returns but not in accordance with a governing strategy and not actively conducting performance analytics.

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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing, Fundraising

Nonprofit Fundraising ROI: A Deeper Dive on Reasonable Costs to Raise a Dollar

by Perry Jowsey on Apr 3, 2018 3:15:00 PM

What separates great nonprofit fundraising operations from middling ones?  Great fundraisers – professional staff, volunteer board members, or expert consultants – develop and work an active plan to maximize the ROI.  They yield the highest possible revenue being conscious of costs. 

And so it may seem that nonprofits who stretch their budgets the furthest are by definition the most efficient.  Yet, analysis we conducted last year revealed that paradoxically, pinching pennies on fundraising costs was actually far less efficient, and increased the cost to raise a dollar.  

Like hedge fund managers, great fundraisers find the narrow path where they can make targeted investments to generate maximum revenue.   Under-investing or overspending are commonplace; proactively initiating campaigns where you can predictably and reliably raise a dollar for under fifteen cents are rarefied instances.  Yet, with the right planning, this is exactly what your nonprofit should accomplish.

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Topics: Fundraising

Play The Aces In Your Nonprofit Fundraising Deck

by Perry Jowsey on Mar 5, 2018 6:30:00 AM

The old cliché ‘play the hand you’re dealt’ might hold true at the casino, but in the high stakes world of nonprofit fundraising, the chips fall to those who build a winning deck.  Over and over, organizations of all sizes that develop a deliberate fundraising plan customized to capitalize on their biggest opportunities are the ones that outperform and up the ante for the field.

No circumstances are identical, and truly exceptional fundraising professionals are able to uniquely assess the shortest path to budget growth and build a system to increase revenue.  If you’re looking for an edge to compete with these pros, consider putting these aces in your deck.

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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing

Contrarian Opportunities in Nonprofit Fundraising for 2018 

by Perry Jowsey on Feb 4, 2018 2:38:53 PM

Despite many predictions to the contrary, charitable giving will increase considerably in 2018.  Moreover, corporate giving this year will increase by a greater rate than for the entire previous 5-year period.  But the news isn’t all good for nonprofits; the worst positioned operations will face devastating financial consequences.  So say my bold predictions for nonprofit fundraising in 2018.

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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing, Fundraising

Resolutions to Make your Nonprofit Fundraising Resolute

by Perry Jowsey on Jan 2, 2018 6:00:00 AM

As another calendar year comes to a close, it’s generally easy to separate the wheat from the chaff amongst nonprofit organizations.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, total annual budget is not the sole indicator of fundraising strength.  Outperforming organizations are working systematically to grow revenue and increase market share – year-end financial results are predictable well before the most lucrative month of December. 

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Topics: Nonprofit Marketing