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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|

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 [...]

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 [...]

Focus

By Mary Moss, Partner. Almost every day this month, as emotional headlines about rising Covid cases, the Afghan war departure, and historic weather events scrolled across my screen, I was inspired by the uninterrupted focus that comes from great nonprofit leadership. Featured below are three unstoppable moss+ross clients: Orange Habitat, Healing Transitions, and Trinity Academy. We could have featured many more who are equally focused on doing great work in our communities. The secret sauce of focus includes more than dedication to mission. Here are some tips: (1) make fundraising a weekly top priority (so you do not fall behind); (2) partner with capable volunteer and staff leaders who meet regularly (to infuse ideas and energy and share the work load); and (3) don’t forget the fun (plan agendas that highlight the work of others and recognize [...]

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 [...]

The Five W’s of Development Planning

By Elizabeth Hopkins, Brooke Jenkins, and Lizzy Mottern. The summer months are a good time to refresh and renew our enthusiasm for the important work we do – and to create a Development Plan for the year ahead. The Five W’s of Development Planning will help you focus on the important elements of your plan. Why Plan? A plan provides common understanding of what is being done, who is doing it, and by when. Development plans: Secure resources for your organization Keep donors connected, informed, and feeling appreciated Ensure the development team works efficiently and effectively. When to Plan? For many organizations, the summer marks the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of another, making this an ideal time to assess what worked well last year and plan for the year ahead. Start early and [...]

Building Great Partnerships

By Susan Ross, Partner. Last month I loved being a volunteer faculty member for AFP’s three-day intensive Fundamentals of Fundraising course. My portion of the training used 46 slides and two hours to reinforce one critical point: “Building and maintaining relationships is at the core of successful fundraising.” What does that mean for you and your nonprofit? Based on a dozen years leading moss+ross and three decades of fundraising for Duke, my experience says that building great working relationships with good people interested in your cause starts with valuing them beyond their gifts. Take time to hear their stories and learn from them. Seek their input and make sure they hear important information directly from you. As you bring them closer to the work you are doing, you may see them invest in a bigger way and become your organization’s biggest [...]

Partnering with Corporations

By Emily Bruce, Senior Associate. Local corporate partnerships are often part of the funding mix for many nonprofits, though typically a small proportion (only 5% of overall philanthropic giving, according to Giving USA.) Developing a win-win partnership that aligns your mission with the philanthropic priorities of a local corporation has benefits for both parties. How do you build a relationship with a company? Begin building relationships within a local company by getting to know its people. 1.     Employee Volunteerism. Local companies invest where their employees are investing their time. Many corporations provide paid hours for their employees to volunteer, and even better, several also provide matching gifts for every hour an employee volunteers. Recent trends also reflect companies’ willingness to provide grants or reimburse nonprofits for the expenses they incur for hosting volunteers. 2.     Community Affairs/Corporate Social Responsibility. Many corporations invest in [...]

2021-03-19T17:41:37-04:00March 19th, 2021|All Posts, Fundraising Counsel, Team Expertise|

Phasing in Your Fundraising

By Susan Ross. Now that North Carolina has begun its phased reopening, you may be looking at how this applies to your fundraising efforts. The nonprofit community has responded in extraordinary ways during this time, with dedicated staff and volunteers doing all they could to serve clients, maintain programs, and raise money when able. In the process, nonprofits realized which services were most critical to clients, and many were able to pivot when they saw a service gap that they could fill. Going forward, this pandemic-induced clarity is an opportunity for change as nonprofits review missions, collaborations, and impact in the community. Importantly, whether or not you have been actively fundraising during the past few months, you need to start getting back up to speed soon. Like everything else in our lives, fundraising activity will fall into [...]

2020-05-21T20:19:03-04:00May 21st, 2020|All Posts, From The Partners, Fundraising Counsel|

Expanded Focus on Faith Communities

By Susan Ross. Listening to the inspiring words of the Most Reverend Michael Curry on Saturday at the Royal Wedding reminded the world (or at least the two billion of us who watched) that there is power in love to help, heal, lift up, liberate, and show us the way to live. At moss+ross, we believe the work we do with our nonprofit partners helps to extend this power of love to neighbors throughout our communities. During the past decade, Mary and I have grown the firm to include 18 associates, enabling us to respond rapidly and effectively to our partners. To our original core business of campaign management and fundraising counsel, we have added capacity in executive search, strategic planning, data management, research, and other important areas. Today we announce an expanded focus on faith communities, knowing [...]

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