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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 [...]

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 [...]

Creating Urgency for Your Giving Programs

By Susan Ross. Like many of you, I celebrated June 30th again this year. It has been many years since I was Director of the Duke Annual Fund, but I am still tuned in to the importance of this particular day on the calendar, and the hard work with LYBUNTs that leads up to it.  I’d bet anyone whose resume includes annual giving shares my feeling. Of course, our donors may or may not be attuned to the fiscal year-end importance of a random day in mid-summer, focused as they are on the IRS-provided December 31 timeframe.  But we development folks know it is about more than just a budget. There is value in giving donors a deadline. People need a reason to make a decision in a timely fashion, and good development officers can help close gifts [...]

2020-02-28T18:35:09-05:00July 28th, 2017|All Posts, From The Partners, Fundraising Counsel|

Do you need a case statement? by Jeanne Murray

Whether it is quick-printed or a beautiful glossy piece, you need to make a solid case to your audience. The most important reason to have a case statement is to help donors understand how they can make a difference by participating in your campaign. The case statement describes the need and the opportunity, and answers the question, "why now?". It assures donors you have thought through specific program goals and financial considerations, and describes the vision for a better future when you reach the campaign goal together. moss+ross Associate Jeanne Murray A recent client example is Durham Nativity School's “Building the Dream” Campaign, which helped renovate a wonderful building gifted to this school for 5th-8th grade boys. The case described a campaign vision of “classrooms equipped for the needs of young men, stability in our community, and investment [...]

Formulas for Success with a Strategic Plan

Once a strategic plan is in place, it shouldn't sit on the shelf. Proactive organizations revisit their plans regularly and pay attention to the milestones for achieving their vision. This takes many forms; here are a few examples: Pictured above: moss+ross associates Lizzy Mottern, Brooke Jenkins, Chuck Fyfe, and Fred Stang 1. Syncing up: Consider an online survey to assess whether there is a common understanding about the mission, and if the Board's goals are aligned with the staff's. This technique is especially useful when you've had new board members or new staff members join your organization. 2. Self-evaluation: Even the best board can benefit from a self-evaluation about performance, leadership and alignment with strategic plans. Such an assessment is particularly important as a tool for correcting course. 3. Big picture: Organizations may neglect strategic planning because it [...]

2016-03-31T00:25:38-04:00March 31st, 2016|All Posts, Strategic Planning|

Examples From the Field

Our clients are an amazing group of creative and energetic professionals.  Here are a few things that have impressed us recently: 1. A school developing its first strategic plan reached beyond its traditional leadership and invited a parent who is a university human resources administrator and a principal from a nearby school to join the strategic planning steering committee.  Both individuals offered objectivity, fresh ideas, and organizational sustainability expertise to the planning process – helping to prioritize goals and identify actionable, measurable initiatives for the next three years. 2. The executive directors of several social services clients have been meeting regularly for over three years to discuss best practices and challenges in fulfilling their missions.  Along the way, these organizations have worked to eliminate duplication in services across agencies, implement more effective systems and programs for serving their clients, collaborate [...]

Strategic Planning: An Art, Not a Science by Chuck Fyfe

For many years, organizations embarking on a strategic planning effort followed an organized, pre-set process that grew out of a desire to justify large capital expenditures to investors.  Many books were written on the subject, and a generally accepted process was the norm.  Plans were populated with such elements as vision and mission statements, competitive analyses, SWOT analysis, risk assessments, resources analyses, etc.  And the plans were developed using similarly structured, replicable and defined processes. Chuck Fyfe, Senior Associate But in today’s world, and especially in the world of nonprofits, more attention must be paid to the specific needs of the organization in designing the process.  Unlike in the business world, nonprofits do not have the same set of performance measures such as net income, earnings per share or return on investment.  Often the goals are less tangible, [...]

The Importance of Strategic Planning by Mary Moss and Susan Ross

April Fools’ Day is not the only time reality can be hard to see clearly. Just ask any nonprofit executive, and you will get an earful of examples. Smart nonprofits do all they can to prepare themselves, though, and this means taking precious time from service delivery to plan for the future. Does your organization have a strategic plan? How is it used? When was it last updated? Strategic plans provide a framework for decisions about a variety of key issues and help you focus on what matters most. Susan Ross and Mary Moss In our experience, developing a plan is a critical step to strong fundraising. Savvy donors want not only to know how you will use their funds, but how you will change the world by what you are doing. Change the world?  Yes, indeed. We all want [...]

2020-02-21T19:18:44-05:00March 30th, 2016|All Posts, Strategic Planning|
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