top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe MSG Team


It should probably be no surprise that one of the top questions we get revolves around the growth of a nonprofit financially. Organizations constantly reach out to us, asking how they can increase their annual giving or planned giving programs.

When we listen to organizations on how they are trying to grow their giving programs, there are two "plans" we hear all the time, which drive us nuts. After reading this post, we actually hope it drives you nuts as well.

Nutty Plan #1 - Make the kid do it . . .

Did you know the average Development Director gets paid about $40k/year (give or take)? Especially during these times, chances are that salary is going to attract someone very green. Most Executive Directors who pay their Development Directors in that range usually tell us their biggest frustration with that person, is that they don't bring in new major donors.

Now be honest with yourself . . . do you really expect that person to have the experience and ability to talk with your top donors, find new donors, write grants, AND lead fundraising events? It's almost as if that Executive Director expects their $40k person to have the same knowledge and experience as the $125k hospital or university Development Director. If all you can afford is a PT or a $25k, $40k, etc FT person . . . that's totally ok. Just make sure your expectations are fair.

Potential solutions? It means the Executive Director might need to take more of a lead with fundraising. It also means you might want to review your job descriptions, compare with the market, and make sure you are being fair to whoever you hire as your development director. Finally, make sure your team is getting coaching and mentoring, so you all know how to become even better fundraisers.

Nutty Plan #2 - Boards + Paper = Making It Rain

Probably equally as mind boggling, and something we hear all the time is . . . "We ask board members at every meeting, to write down people they know who can be major donors and we never get any names", or some version of that comment.

Let's ask you that same question. Let's say someone who sells product ABC comes up to you and says, "Can you give me the name and numbers of 5 of your friends who should buy our product" . . . how quick would you be to write down their names? I am guessing not very fast at all. So why would you expect that board members, who have friends who get hit up all the time, would want to write those names down on a piece of paper, for you to make a list that your entire organization can now see?

It does not mean the board member is right but this is a common feeling that board members have, and why they are often resistant to simply tossing names on paper at the end of a meeting.

Potential solutions? There is nothing wrong with asking board members for help with names but perhaps change your tactic a bit. Instead of doing this randomly at an end of a board meeting, instead talk about this in private with board members individually. If you would rather this to be a team effort, consider working together on a fundraising plan. Either way, the important thing is that you make this feel more personable and strategic than just asking people people to write names on a piece of paper for you.

At this point, you can walk away from this blog post with plenty of things to consider. However, if you feel like you could use some additional support from Midwest Studies Group, here are some options:

Annual Giving and Planned Giving Studies - MSG, with our experienced team, can actually talk to major potential donors for you. We formulate all of our findings in a report, and then are able to give your team suggestions on how you should move ahead with your fundraising. The best part is that board members LOVE being part of this because they can get involved in thinking of new donors without feeling feeling the pressure and stress of doing it all themselves.

Coaching and Mentoring - Our MSG team has over 100 years of combined nonprofit experience. We can help set you up with an affordable fundraising coaching plan with a member of our team who will get you in the right direction, without taking up too much of your time. Great for those wanting to increase their annual giving or planned giving programs.

Fundraising Plans - How much are you going to raise? Where is the money going to come from? Why did you increase or decrease that amount? What grants are you relying on for the year? MSG can help you strategize so you know what to expect for the year (and beyond).

------------------------------------- To learn more about strategic and fundraising plans, feasibility studies, planned giving studies, need assessment studies, and capital campaigns, visit us at

21 views0 comments
bottom of page