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Gettin’ Lucky: Not a wise strategy for securing major gifts

By Mary Moss, Founding Partner. In my experience, there is not much luck in major gifts work. I believe that you make your own luck. I have been in this business for four decades, as staff and consultant, and I have witnessed comments such as: “Wow, they just got lucky with that big gift. I work with that same donor and didn’t get that kind of gift,” or “That gift just came out of the clear blue” or “That donor had no history with that organization. Wonder why they left their estate there?” In most instances of “gettin’ lucky,” there is a solid connection with the donor and strategy behind the gift. I have had a handful of happy occasions where “true luck” happened, and have always wished for more (don't we all?). Nothing replaces a compelling [...]

2022-09-20T13:55:08-04:00September 20th, 2022|All Posts, From The Partners, Fundraising Counsel|

Fresh Eyes from Trusted Partners

By Kate Hearne, VP Corporate Services Many of you count yourselves among our more than 230 clients, some with 10-12 different contracts (THANK YOU!) At moss+ross, we begin each client relationship with a base of mutual trust and respect, and through our expertise, bring fresh eyes to each and every engagement. How do we bring fresh eyes after consulting on thousands (literally!) of projects over the past 14 years? The answer is simple: each client is an opportunity to make a difference. As I speak to prospective clients and develop proposals for partnering with them, I look for ways our team approach can be fully customized to each new project. It is exciting to match a client’s needs to what we bring, namely: Creative thinking - With each engagement, we challenge ourselves to think beyond traditional approaches, consider [...]

Local Firm, National Reach

By Susan Ross, Founding Partner. “Shopping local” doesn’t exactly mean the mom-and-pop store on the corner when it comes to choosing strategic counsel. moss+ross takes a community-centric approach to meeting the needs of nonprofits in our region of North Carolina. Clients tell us that the extensive community knowledge and context we bring to our work equip their teams to compete for philanthropic dollars and hire great talent from national as well as local sources. We regularly compete with national fundraising consulting and executive search firms, and we believe moss+ross is a better choice for most nonprofits. Being your local firm is a distinct business advantage – for all of us. Our clients see the impact of our work across sectors and the region. They appreciate having us nearby and nimble, and they are happy not to pay [...]

Tips for Retaining Talent

By Lizzy Mottern. Your search was successful, and you have hired an amazing new member of your team -- congratulations! Now you want them to stay. Retaining employees requires thought, planning, and creativity -- and has dramatic payoffs. One is financial: it costs about 33% of a new hire’s salary to replace an employee, and for highly skilled jobs, costs may be up to 150% of the annual salary (source: the Society for Human Resource Management). Finances are just one type of cost: employee turnover can mean lost momentum on projects, your organization’s inability to accept new work, and a toll on morale as other employees step in to cover duties of a vacant position. Once you find a person who makes your organization shine, take two proactive steps that help them choose to stay for a while: [...]

Volunteers Bring Magic to the Mission

By Mary Moss, Founding Partner. April is National Volunteer Month, and we are celebrating the strengths and talents of volunteers with our clients and in our social media. Volunteers are not supplemental, or nice to have; they are essential and foundational to a nonprofit’s mission delivery. In 1981, my first fundraising job was to recruit student volunteers at Duke University to fill 18 slots a night throughout the year for the first Dialing for Duke telethons. Duke’s Annual Fund grew exponentially from this personal touch from students to alumni. Four decades later, I can report that every effort I have led as a staff member or volunteer, or guided as a consultant, has found its success through committed volunteers. The real magic happens when you build a strong staff-volunteer partnership with shared goals resulting in a cadre [...]

Help Us Help You: Three Tips for RFPs

By Kate Hearne, VP for Corporate Services. Like many of you, our team is feeling the pace of business activity approach pre-pandemic levels. At moss+ross, this means we are seeing multiple Request for Proposals (RFPs) each week. Campaigns that were being considered in early 2020 are being revived; strategic plans and development plans need adjustments to incorporate new ways of delivering programs and engaging with donors; and clients are assessing staffing needs for an increased level of activity. As we determine our capacity for responding to campaigns, searches, assessments, or other consulting projects, the quality of the RFP helps guide those decisions. The best RFPs have three things in common: A deadline date. RFPs with defined deadlines for submission and selection will help your organization get to your real goal – starting the project! We have seen RFPs with [...]

Talent Makes it Happen

By Susan Ross, Partner. The media is calling it a “resignation revolution,” but when it happens in your shop it’s just painful. Executive Directors, Directors of Development, and other nonprofit staff leaders play an integral role in a team’s ability to deliver the services clients expect, and stay true to the promises made to donors. In both large and small environments, a vacancy or two can wreak havoc on the remaining staff’s ability to perform as they scramble to keep up with an increased workload. We have seen a huge uptick in clients needing executive search services this fall, and no signs of it slowing down. Whether or not this is related to the pandemic, the need for experienced, mission-focused leaders is very real. At moss+ross, we are poised to help with interim professional placement to keep [...]

Tips to Ease Future Staffing Transitions

By LisaCaitlin Perri. Often a staff transition means losing that person's institutional knowledge of documents, processes, and decision making. From our years of experience stepping into organizations as interim contractors, we see several key areas that can mitigate the turmoil of a turnover, improve internal efficiency, and streamline communication. Prioritize the following areas for up-to-date documentation that is readily accessible to the full team or at least to more than one staff member: Reports – For data reports or filters/queries that supported an appeal or event or board meeting, document how or why final decisions were made and the names of any final reports or filters. Be sure that the final criteria or lists are available in a secure shared location. This applies to financial and program reports to funders or other stakeholders, too. Examples: For your [...]

Mobilize with Temporary Staff Support

By Kathryn Williams. Clients often call us when they need interim staff to support temporary needs. I’ve been called on when a position becomes vacant, to assist with researching and writing grant proposals, to help prepare for a capital campaign, or to support volunteers with a project or event. When a client identifies a need, moss+ross develops a contract that spells out the scope of work, priorities, and fees, as well as the anticipated timeline for completion of the work. When a moss+ross person steps into a temporary role, the first meeting is to assess organizational needs, clarify expectations, and outline roles and responsibilities for everyone involved on the team. Whether on site or online, we communicate progress with the client through regular emails and weekly team meetings. The best way a client can support an interim [...]

Welcome Normal Days

By Susan Ross, Partner. I’ve kept a newspaper column for many years called “Learning to be grateful for life’s normal days.” Encouraging us not to overlook their beauty, Donna Britt writes in the Washington Post of their “magnificent mediocrity” and says “those are days worth loving.” Never was that more true than during the 2020-21 pandemic-related upheaval of our normalcy. Nonprofits did what they could. Some hunkered down while others geared up, and most of those who continued fundraising just closed one of their best years ever. Our advice, shared through every Zoom call and e-newsletter over the last year, was not to wait it out but instead to continue to do the hard work of asking people to support the mission. So now as you begin to plan your 2021-22 fiscal year, how do you account [...]

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