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Capital Campaigns in the COVID-19 Era

By Mary Moss First, how are you today? At moss+ross, work continues not just on campaigns, but also on strategic plans, organizational assessments, interim staffing, annual funds, and searches. We are busy helping our clients meet their missions in the COVID-19 era. Being in a capital campaign now can be daunting, and we are hearing four questions from clients: What CAN we do now? What CAN'T we do now? What SHOULD we do? HOW do we do it? For starters, we have been asked, “Should we shut down the campaign?” Whether you are at the beginning, middle, or end of a campaign, find a way to keep it going at whatever pace you can.   Optimism is the order of the day. Your goals are still mission critical and in some cases more urgent in the COVID-19 era. [...]

2020-03-26T19:57:48+00:00March 26th, 2020|All Posts, Capital Campaigns, From The Partners, Special Topics|

Building Trust with Donors

By Susan Ross. Successful nonprofit leadership demands fundraising capability. Subject matter expertise and passion for the cause remain important parts of the nonprofit skill set, but leaders know it takes money to live into an ambitious mission. The best professionals build relationships that make clients, donors, staff, and others value and trust your role in their lives. We see this expectation in our searches for executive directors and development officers, where Boards are clearly looking for a proven record of fundraising success. What does that really mean? More than an impressive dollar total, it should recognize a pattern of actions and related results that meet the agreed upon goals. Certainly, a bit of luck may make an unexpected gift land in your lap, but more often the luckiest people are the ones who work the hardest, as [...]

2020-03-02T20:47:33+00:00March 2nd, 2020|All Posts, From The Partners|

The Room Where It Happens

By Mary Moss. If you’ve seen Hamilton, you know that the “Room Where it Happens” means more than just clever lyrics and melody. History is made by having the right people in the room, people whose actions and commitment will change everything. Alexander Hamilton was in the room, and as they say, the rest is history. Who is in your room? As staff, do you have the right people in your room? As board or committee members, do you have the right volunteers in your room? This past month has been an extraordinary one for some moss+ross clients. To name only a few:  * SECU Family House and Oak City Cares celebrated successful campaign conclusions * Healing Transitions and Durham Tech met huge milestones in their campaigns * Voices Together hired a Director of Development and Eno [...]

The Extraordinary Importance of Ordinary Donors

By Susan Ross. All donors, large and small, play an important role in charitable giving, yet recent data show that about half of US families today are not giving at all, and those that do are giving less than they did 15 years ago. Research from the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University shows that this is true across the board, among all organizations. The good news is that most nonprofit organizations are meeting fundraising goals, thanks to larger gifts from fewer donors. Pursuing the extraordinary opportunity means focusing on major gifts. But what about the “ordinary” – the small or medium-sized gift? The stakes are high: nonprofit independence and sustainability may be jeopardized when a few very generous, very wealthy donors have all the voice and clout. Such donors usually do not want all that responsibility [...]

Recipe for Nonprofit Success: Three Essential Ingredients

By Mary Moss. Imagine your organization has stopped operation. Imagine funds have run out. Imagine the population your mission supports cannot be served. Everything stops. Imagine the despair. For the leaders at Community Music School (CMS) in Raleigh, this was reality, not imagination, and on the front page of the News & Observer a few years ago. Fast forward to today, where CMS is thriving, growing, adapting, and serving more students as it lives into its mission To Create Brighter Futures Through Music. Fundraising numbers are way up, teachers are being recognized in myriad ways, and more students than ever are clamoring to see their brand new facility located at Longleaf School of the Arts in Southeast Raleigh. How did this extraordinary state of affairs turn around? CMS leaders concentrated on three key ingredients. This is a simple recipe, [...]

Your Board Really Can Be Great!

By Susan Ross. I was asked for my perspective on the probing question “Is Your Board Any Good?” in a recently released short video from local agency Angel Oak Creative. During the filming, I suggested to the interviewer that “Is your board as good as you need it to be?” might be a better question. At moss+ross, we work with lots of boards, and Mary and I have rarely run into one that really is not “any good.” But we have seen boards that aren’t making best use of their skills, have fallen into performance ruts or lost their focus, and have ended up being less effective than the nonprofit or institution – or their board members - deserved. Sometimes a retreat or custom training can be a big help to getting a board reengaged and focused. Last [...]

How Much Can You Do in an Hour?

By Mary Moss. It turns out, a lot! Have you ever been in a meeting and caught yourself yawning without opening your mouth where your nostrils expand, and you pray no one is watching? This is a dead give-away that the meeting has gone on too long. I am a keen observer of how different leaders run meetings. Some people process aloud, some don’t say a word, and some insist that everyone say something.  Some prefer to set a time limit; others intentionally do not. Some prepare ahead of time and follow an agenda; others cannot be constrained to an agenda. I have become a huge proponent of the one-hour meeting. Strong meeting management values other people’s time. For example, my Rotary runs a tight ship – meetings are one hour, although people can come earlier to eat [...]

Double Digits

By Susan Ross. Mary and I are thrilled that moss+ross is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, and we just have to take a few minutes to reminisce about the journey. Over 10 years we have helped build shelters, schools, cathedrals, synagogues and museums; stabilized reserve funds and helped nonprofits merge; conducted assessments and written strategic plans; launched new initiatives and helped others reboot; managed dozens and dozens of searches and placed many interim staff members along the way.  We have worked on campaigns from $600,000 to $4.2 billion, and we still get excited when our clients get a big gift or cut a ribbon or hit their goals. moss+ross grew out of a shared vision to strengthen the capacity of our nonprofit community. We felt we could make a difference in this region with an expanded use [...]

2020-02-28T18:05:48+00:00January 9th, 2019|All Posts, From The Partners, Team Updates|

Respect the Power of December

By Mary Moss. Beginning in late November, the temptation is to concede December as too busy and intrusive for fundraising.  We sometimes become tentative; we project what may not be true:  that December is a bad time to ask because we are invading personal space. In fact, in my experience, the opposite is true.  Strong Decembers became a marker of my career. Having worked in development for 37 years, I am very familiar with the pros and cons of this season as it relates to fundraising. This off-schedule, nonworking time is in fact better for many families.  People are less rushed and have time to be thoughtful about what is important to them, including their giving. As a general rule, I worked very hard leading up to the holidays and then again soon after they ended. I never [...]

2020-02-28T18:18:59+00:00November 24th, 2018|All Posts, From The Partners, Fundraising Counsel|

Our Role in the UNC Campaign

By Susan Ross. Our region of North Carolina is filled with top-rated colleges and universities, all of which set high bars for development excellence. Over the past eight years, moss+ross has worked on more than 20 engagements with UNC Chapel Hill and its various schools and programs.  We are particularly proud to be one of two named consulting partners for the $4.25 billion For All Kind campaign. Launched just over a year ago, the campaign has reached $2.3 billion in commitments. moss+ross clients have included some of the biggest efforts on campus: the $1 billion UNC Medicine campaign, a $500 million Rams Club campaign, $400 million for the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and a $300 million focus for UNC Global. We are also involved with schools and programs whose eight-figure goals present equally daunting challenges, such as the School of [...]