Let me hear you…”I love Tech!”

by Marcy Heim on June 9, 2021

Do you enjoy that zoom feature that lets us “improve our appearance” on zoom?  Works great  – try it if you haven’t yet.

You have a tremendous opportunity now to rebuild your life as we re-enter from the Land of Covid.  Whether you continued to come into the office this past year, spent months remote, or are still remote, the changes around us as colleagues, friends and family re-adjust impacts how we ALL work together- again.

One thing I know for sure – we befriended technology and it is here to stay!

This week I was honored to present the opening keynote, “Fear less, Raise more, SHINE ON!” at the APF Symposium in California.   It was a terrific experience and combined the talents of leadership from AFP San Fernando Valley, Santa Barbara & Venture Counties.

Studio on the road

Great to be in California?  Actually, I delivered the keynote from Story City, Iowa – a town with a bit over 3000 folks at the Comfort Inn.  The staff there led by Manager Nick, placed me in the room closest to the router. I hauled my entire desktop, monitor, speakers, ring light, backdrop screen and all the power cords and extension cords with me and created my professional looking space from which to share my message. 

Studio on the road

It was quite an experience and I came away feeling empowered with my new found skill in using tech.  As we come together again, know that using technology in our work is here to stay.

Studio on the road

Here are my key messages around this.

  1. Combining live events with special virtual experiences gives us a chance to reach different folks and THAT means better access for development officers with board and major donors as they partner with leadership on the virtual sessions.
  2. Board meetings with virtual access will give us better attendance but demand that we have more one-on-one to build more authentic relationships with our board members.
  3. Checking on virtual meeting preferences will be part of understanding your givers communications preferences. As you begin new relationships I encourage you to discover at the first conversation how they prefer to hear from you – text, email, phone, in person.  Add zoom and other virtual platforms to that list!
  4. Creating new donor relationships will take deeper attention to their “modus operandi.”  The Kolbe test measures our relationship to data, systems, risk and processes. Get your own Kolbe results with “test A” at Kolbe.com and also consider that your team, board and donors may prefer to have a screen separating them.
  5. Asks and other money conversations using texts, email, phone and zoom will be common.  One of my clients shared she had just texted two pledge reminders out – and both replied they would take care of it – thanks.
  6. Building trust will require even higher follow through, clarity and consistency. You are going to have to pay close attention to setting up specific actions and completing them well to earn trust. Trust is at an all-time low and it’s our job to rekindle it for our work with our donors by doing what we say we are going to do.Marcy on Zoom
  7. Traditional methods will stand out. In person contacts will be cherished by most – even those who still are mainly remote or reluctant to meet yet. Drop off that loaf of bread, bag of chocolate chip cookies etc. with the update letter about your mission. Isolation is not good for the human spirit.
  8. There’s going to be little patience with tech reluctance. If you want to go back to before all the tech – sorry – not going to happen.  Adopt a mindset that you like it.
Work is anywhere now.

These times are exciting and unclear.  Go about your days with as much patience and compassion as you can muster for others.  Give a super large dose to yourself!  The struggles others have adjusting now can sometimes surface in frustration and unkind comments that can hurt you.  The more you love yourself right now the more you can respond with grace and compassion.

Invest in JOY®


3 Tips for Events that Make Sense

by Marcy Heim on May 26, 2021

Marcy & Lilacs

There is a lot for you to think about as you consider doing again what you’ve always done when it comes to events that make sense – especially for major gifts! But first – ENJOY the LONG WEEKEND here in the States! That means do something that is FUN for you!  Stop and smell the lilacs!

I miss you.

Let me just be really straight about that. Your face on zoom is good but not the same as being together at a conference, or workshop.  I know, I know….it’s coming back and I am eager to be with you – live and in person! I hope you are doing ok as we navigate re-entry into “together- again”! 

Same is true for your donors, alumni, stakeholders, friends, families…whomever, as we long to be together but we aren’t sure what that looks like…exactly. And, we kinda liked having the option to be part of it from home.

While the past year put a stop to many of the events and gatherings you’ve always done, it’s a golden once-in-a-lifetime chance to begin anew. And no matter what you do, surround it with the pure joy of WELCOME BACK! 

Here are my 3 tips and examples from 3 of my MORE Major Gifts Accelerator Group Coaching Program members.  You can learn more about it here.

3 Tips for Events that Make Sense – especially for Major Gifts!

1. Mix live and virtual to create more intimacy. How can you be “Cheers”?  If you remember the bar where everyone knows your name…as we plan events now, rework former large galas into smaller groups allowing for more comfort AND more personal time with guests.  When we used to have one event for 300 – what about one live event of about 150 and 10 virtual events of 15 folks or less?  Sure, you get to plan both, but it’s better for authentic major gift relationship building, and your donors get to choose their experience.  If your cost in time and planning is MORE, it will be more  than covered with increased giving success.

Tianna Haradon

Tianna Haradon, Director of Development for The Wooden Floor in California added a virtual option to their annual in-person event, The Step

Beyond Annual Graduation Celebration.  Step Beyond Celebration

While the main event will be in person and feature student dance performances and gourmet bites, on-line versions are being held in groups of 3 students, 10 donors and hosted by Tianna and her ED, Dawn Reese. They have been a hit – especially with out of town donors, many of whom have never attended in the past. The relationship building has been phenomenal!  Plus, practice makes perfect and they tweak the on-line version continuously. Plus, they can engage more students. Plus, everyone REALLY get to know everyone! They aren’t just another body in the in-person reception hall masses. Plus, both she and her ED are more comfortable with Tianna picking up the lead with major donors because they have had this time to work with them together.  Looks like 4 “pluses” to me!

2. Thinking smaller let’s you embrace opportunities! Oh those cursed event timelines and the people who beat us up to stay on them! If you open yourself up to being spontaneous and that you can make something SMALLER happen quickly, you can bring more joy to your major donors.

Diana Rich

Diana Rich, Director of Development for United Presbyterian Homes in Iowa was waiting for gathering restrictions to change before hosting an event to launch the new bus philanthropy made possible for residents at her care center. When she learned the naming donor of The Holden Express was celebrating his 104th birthday in less than a week she said, “Why not?!”  She pulled together the group of donors from phone calls and email, the mayor, some light refreshments, a ribbon to cut, and a staff colleague to take the donor and his family on the first official ride past his family farm. 

Holden Express

She said, “The ribbon cutting was amazing today!!” People felt appreciated and they made some wonderful memories.  If you can shake the mindset of traditional events needing an invitation, blah blah blah and just GO FOR IT, you can provide donors and their families with lifetime memories that inspire joyful life-long giving relationships.

3.  Having smaller events inspires board engagement.  I wish I had a $100 bucks for every time a board member told me how they hated being obligated to buy and fill an event table. I’d be richer. (We all are rich, remember)  And, the times development folks were scrambling to use the turned back tickets from purchased board and sponsor tables left unfilled. Ugh!

 Janet Keller

What if we really meaningfully empowered our board members to connect with some specific people during the event. Perhaps we station our board members as greeters at the door (think wedding reception line) along with some of our leadership! Perhaps we engage our board to have a role with specific attendees well before the event. I’m sure many of you do this already – but think about how this plays out with hundreds of folks….and how differently this plays out with smaller gatherings where it doesn’t take 20 minutes just to move the masses from the reception room to the dining room. And then imagine we actually give them time to eat and visit – rather than blasting them with our tear-inducing videos and dramatic stories – or speaker after speaker reading the script. Janet Keller, Executive Director of the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation did just that and her board enjoyed their experiences, plus raised more for the Plant A Seed event than ever in the past.

What I know for sure:

1. People want to feel special.

2. People want to feel appreciated.

3. People want to know what their money does – really does – and telling stories will never go out of style, but in a smaller setting, it will change their whole relationship with you.

4. Few people really like crowds.

5. We don’t have to do what we’ve always done.

SHINE ON, my friends!  This re-entry business is going to be messy for awhile.  Simple will out shine complex every time.  The most important moment of our lives are those everyday acts of love, kindness, caring and sharing.  Focus on the experience – not the attendance and watch your stress go down and your impact and giving go up.

Invest in JOY®


You can’t be replaced!

May 12, 2021

“For every thing, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn turn turn. A time to be born, a time to die.”  (The Byrds – listen here.) For Simone Joyaux, “one of the most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders in the philanthropic sector worldwide,” that time was May 2, 2021. She died from a massive stroke […]

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Fundraising Ambassadors- aka – YOUR AMAZING BOARD

April 29, 2021

Your Non-Profit Board is key to your success…in these remarkable times and always. I know that you care about engaging them in a way that makes this a win for all! In my several board fundraising workshops over the past few months – virtually and in-person – it’s clear that HOW to do this isn’t […]

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Spring into ACTION

April 14, 2021

SPRING into ACTION! How and What to do..NOW Each new quarter – especially the Spring quarter – empowers you to renew your determination to achieve your goals! One wheelbarrow at a time, I will spread 15 yards of mulch sheltering scores of beautiful plants! (my current quest) Your mission – should you decide to accept it – […]

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Debunk YOUR Planned Giving Myths

March 24, 2021

It’s Easter Bunny time! While we all are getting older, it’s a choice to get “old.” Eat some peeps, color an egg and sing, Here comes Peter Cottontail at the top of your lungs! Can’t wait! And while Easter brings flowers and hatching eggs, in these remarkable times many wonder, “What if I die?” and are creating […]

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Get your New Donor Ducks in a row

March 11, 2021

Spring! Rebirth! New Energy! New Relationships! New Prospective Givers! Inspiring Artful Asking from the stage of EVOLVETwenty21 – the National Mobile & TeleDentistry Conference in Orlando – YES!! IN PERSON! Wow! What an eye-opener for me to take in the importance of ORAL Health in your total health! And amazing technology is, indeed, on the […]

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Luv the Flub

February 24, 2021

Have you ever screwed up? Have you ever failed? Of course you have. And it can be terrifying. Will you be forgiven? Will you lose your job? Can this be fixed? As you head into March and the start of year two of these remarkable times, you need to be growing major giving relationships, hosting […]

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Roses are Red

February 10, 2021

Script for sending Valentine’s love! It’s tough to play Euchre with only 3…almost impossible, in fact. Bluntly then, when someone dies you generally replace the “couple” with another “couple.”  I mean, it takes 4 to play the card game.  And so begins the challenging, and lonely, journey of being just one. And left out. As […]

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Better late than never

January 27, 2021

Have you ever said, “Better late than never?” It’s a phrase that’s been around forever. How you say it determines how it impacts you.  Let’s look at an example. I’m continuing to send out my holiday letters and probably will into February. I could look at it as an obligation – people sent me cards […]

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