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Key Principles

  • People give to you because you meet needs, not because you have needs
  • A gift to you is really a gift through you
  • All stats about reach must be enriched with stories of impact – what difference does it make?
  • Fundraising is not about money, but relationships
  • It’s not about you – windows, not mirrors – who else is out there doing this?

Big three


  • Bigger than your organization
  • Why you do it, why you exist
  • Use powerful words, no helping words; boldness
    • Vector Health Programs (medical agency treating hands): "Next to the human face, hands are our most expressive feature. We talk with them. We work with them. We play with them. We comfort and love with them. An injury to the hand affects people professionally and personally. At Vector Health Programs, we give people back the use of their hands."
    • Yale University School of Medicine (for a campaign at the beginning of discoveries in genetic engineering and biomedicine): "We are in the midst of one of the most profound intellectual revolutions of all time, the revolution in the biological sciences. Its implications for understanding life processes and combating disease are boundless. Yale is in the forefront of this revolution.”
    • For a campaign brochure for the Science Museum of Minnesota: "From ancient chipped stone tools, to modern computer chips, ingenuity is the human signature. We seek to understand and mimic a world and universe in which we are newcomers, to fly with birds, to communicate at the speed of light. This scientific quest is written in things we can touch, each of them a window to the future. At the Science Museum of Minnesota, we touch the future, hands on."


  • It’s not about you.
  • No longer just what you want to “look like, feel like, be like”
  • A vision has to enroll your investors in the promise of community transformation and they have to be able to feel a part of its achievement
    • "Our vision is that every child in the greater New Orleans area will be ready when it’s time to start school."


  • The biggest of the three
  • All philanthropy (voluntary action for the public good) is based in values
  • People don’t give to, ask for, join, or serve any organization whose values they don’t share
  • People do not respond to organizations who do not share their values
  • When your values are evident, you engage people in a stronger and more lasting way
  • Be sure you are marketing your values and your impact as well as your organization
    • Black & Decker – people don’t buy a drill because they want a drill, but because they want a hole. So why market the drill not the hole?


  • Get to know people, found out how values match
  • What gets in the way? The paradox of urgency. The urgency of the need you’re meeting vs the urgency of raising funds.

Expectations of donors

  • Impact
  • Issues
  • Investment
  • Involvement
  • Innovation

Culture of Philanthropy

  • Everyone in the organization should have the attitude
  • Every interaction can contribute to people’s understanding
  • Visitors, employees, donors and volunteers feel the culture when they are with you

Becoming transformational

  • Not just about your financial goal (sustainability of what?)
  • Philanthropic asset building cannot be seen as serving only your organization: investors must see how it may transform the community
  • Your vision for the community is the primary goal you work towards: the money just helps you do your work
  • To attract transformational gifts, you need to have a bigger goal than a financial goal – you need to have a big vision for your community and you need to enroll others in that vision
  • Each of your organizations exists to meet broad community needs: it is those needs, not your need for money, that attracts investors

Kay Sprinkel Grace and Alan Wendroff (2000). High Impact Philanthropy. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0471369187.