Don’t we-we on your Donors!

by Marcy Heim on November 27, 2019

You really CAN make this shift!  Really!

You all are working REALLY hard. You give your heart, energy and smarts to fix, enhance, inspire, lift up, prevent, support, and more… to make the world better.

I appreciate you and what you do.

Maya Angelou said it best, “You want to compose a good world. It’s an honorable and noble profession.”

Maya Angelo quote

Yes, you are in an honorable and noble profession.

But here’s the deal that you need to “get.”

If we have sincerely shared how the world is better because our donors gave, THEY will feel like THEY have done it!  WoHOO!! Celebrate this!

“You reach the smallest communities in Wyoming with Science with your support of the Science Bus.”

“You have given a small child a coat and boots this winter and the gift of warmth.”

“You have made education possible for those who can’t meet tuition.”

“You put smiles on the faces of our senior residents with the music you provide.”

“You gave a homeless family a safe night’s rest.”

Heart community

Here’s my point.  As I read all the year-end appeals, this is what I get.

“With your help, we are providing a safe space for homeless people.”

“Thank you for your continued support of _________(name) – fill in the blank.”

“We know _________(name) – fill in the blank “is important to you.”

“With your support, we do our great work.”

Folks, you need to get most of the “we” and “I” out of it.

But, you say, the donors don’t play the music at the assisted living facility (well not unless they’re Marcy – then they play at senior centers all the time – just saying). Donors don’t drive the bus and they sure don’t teach the science in remote areas.  Donors don’t go out and buy the coat and boots.

Right – and you won’t either without their gifts. So really they DO make it happen.  Yes, it wouldn’t happen without you, but it won’t happen without you connecting the dots for them to FEEL what their money DOES.  And your year-end appeal, major gift letter, thank you post card, etc. will be so much more effective when you are willing to let go needing to be appreciated and recognized for what YOU and your organization are doing and just give it all to them.

I heard a story just last week about a donor who said, “I always give to operations – then I can take credit for everything wonderful X (non-profit) does!”

Bloomerang, a donor software, is so committed to this they actually have a piece of programming within the product that rewrites your appeals, created in cooperation with Tom Ahern, to count the “we”s and rewrite to “you”s.

True Marcy Heim story, “I bought a new accounting system for CTM – Children’s Theater of Madison – where I both performed and served on the board.”  Now let me be really transparent here.  What I REALLY did was take a paper ornament off a Christmas tree in the Theater lobby and wrote a check for several hundred dollars so CTM could get a new accounting system. I knew it would help them from my years on the Board and I figured not a lot of people would want to do that ‘tree wish’.  But here’s the thing, I totally felt like I GOT THAT FOR THEM. But, of course, I never stepped foot in a store to buy any accounting software.  But I “owned” that gift. I gave it with joy and I was thrilled to do it.  So don’t go saying, “With Marcy’s help we bought a new accounting system and we set it up and we figured it out and we implemented it and we put in countless hours to get it running.”

It's not about the money.. it's about what the money does.

AND, the more the donor OWNS IT, the more they are connected to you.

Sure, you’ve been writing “we did this” for years and it has raised money.  I am challenging you to understand that the more you make the donor feel THEY are totally accomplishing your work with their gift, the more satisfaction, joy and fulfillment they will feel as they give.  Your relationships will be more real… and deep… and authentic. Their giving will be continuous and increase as you present opportunities for them to more good stuff!

And do you know what else?  I know.  I. Know. Just. How. Much. You. Do! And I appreciate you, celebrate you and respect the amazing talent and gift you are in the world. And remember that I am celebrating you even when sometimes your leadership could do a better job letting you know you are valued.

So take the “we,we” out of ALL your donor conversations.  But be sure to lift up your fundraising colleagues, your accounting folks, your board, your receptionist, your program staff and your janitor.  You will reap what you sow and you will be overwhelmed  – yes overwhelmed…with appreciation.  As you should be.

Invest in JOY®


Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at


Year end Stress – GONE

by Marcy Heim on November 13, 2019

Your Stress-Free, Year-End Success Questions to Ask


It’s like an epidemic this time of year. “How are you?” “Overwhelmed.”

Or, struggling, or crazy-busy, or don’t know how I will get it all done, or exhausted, or stressed or well, ok, but there is just so much.

Never be overwhelmed again.  HOW? sticky notes on face


Make a list of how you DON’T want to feel. What is the exact opposite? Stop and decide HOW YOU DO WANT TO FEEL!  Then only speak that. Words are powerful. They fill our mind and “we become what we think about.”  Stop saying you can’t focus, you can’t sleep, whatever. Stop putting what you DON’T WANT out to the universe. Say instead, “I am so glad that I am no longer OVERWHELMED!” Every.single.time.this.thought.enters.your.mind.

2. STOP being negative.

This time of year co-workers, family and donors can really bug you. Don’t say you want things to be different, to get along with everyone and embrace the spirit of the holidays, and then go to lunch and complain on and on about how stupid accounting is being, or how unfair your boss is, and that things are never gonna change!

3. START being positive.

It’s not enough to stop being negative. If you’ve been negative for a long time, it’s not easy to change. Negative people often have been hurt so often that they feel, “Well, if I don’t expect anything good to come out of this conversation, I won’t be disappointed.”  “Happy Holidays, the world’s going to hell.”  NO! You need to start saying the RIGHT THINGS and be positive.

lots of sticky notes4. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER

It piles up. Holiday cards, sticky notes, Memorandums of Agreement in the works, thank you letters to sign, notes, copies of checks, lists, fund reports, sticky notes, lots of half-started, half-finished.  Stop, put on a pot of coffee and burn the midnight oil, but CLEAN IT UP, CLEAR IT UP.  You can’t work your best when the piles around you are all screaming at you for your attention.


Be willing to begin again, and again, and again…It’s easier to be negative than positive. You will be happier and more successful if you take on an attitude that is eager and happy to be here and every time you slip back (which can be 2 minutes after you read this) start again with “From now on, I will not talk about being overwhelmed.”  “From now on, I will stop fearing a “no” to my ask.”


Today I walked to the bank – 3 miles – 16 degrees.  Deposited 4 checks.  Dark and cold versus lights and action!

well done sticky note

7. Control what you can control

If your ED simply does not want you to visit with someone – let it go. If key donors want to wait until next year and double up giving in 2020 to get past the new, larger standard tax deduction, set up lunch for January 6th and celebrate the first gifts of 2020.

8. Make REAL priorities
Every morning I plan out my calendar with what I will do every minute. Key priorities fight for space on the calendar. Once I decide I am NOT doing something this day – it’s gone – done – until it gets a chance tomorrow. Making long lists you know in your gut you will NEVER get through is just plain stupid. Set yourself up to WIN EVERYDAY! FOCUS – What will bring in the most money RIGHT NOW?


My MORE Major Gifts Accelerator members are amazing folks!  We had a coaching call this week and shared the top question we will use to begin again every time we are “overwhelmed.” Here are some of my favorites from our coaching call.

Why is my confidence unwavering?

What if I don’t fail?

Why am I letting the board’s availability dictate my schedule for making visits?

What if I became laser focused?

Why am I so adept at shutting out the noise?

Why am I so perfectly equipped to make the decision on what database to get?

What if I go ALL-IN as the ROCKSTAR Marcy knows me to be?

I’d say you all should pick that one!  And I’ll believe in you until you can catch up.

Invest in JOY®


Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at


The Accounting Department – Friend or Foe to Giving?

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What is your value? What do you bring to your work? What to you contribute to your professional and personal relationships? What difference do you make? If you are like many non-profit professionals your value is HIGH! You deepen and enrich all of your relationships! The work you do literally transform lives daily – in […]

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YOU can learn from this Celebration!

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CEOs, EDs, Presidents, Deans Who GET Development!

July 24, 2019

I had a delightful conversation a week ago. The CEO of a large senior health care facility, and new member in my Dream, Act, Achieve Coaching Program ask, “What can I do to best support my new development person?” How I wish more CEO’s, Executive Directors, College Presidents, Principals, and Deans would ask THAT question!  […]

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How to deal with a pot-stirrer!

July 10, 2019

Dealing with a pot-stirrer. Now just what do I mean by that? Have you ever noticed how some people seem to continually stir things up?  I call them pot-stirrers. And the problem is they can make a mess of things…including your peace of mind and progress. In college, my roommate, Holly, made this amazing spaghetti […]

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Data only works if YOU do! Part II

June 26, 2019

Let’s get real here, folks.  Data only works if you do. You can use data for better or for worse depending on your objectives. I challenge you to embrace that data gives you the OPPORTUNITY to be successful only if you TAKE ACTION WITH IT! How many on-line programs have we purchased to never get past Module I? How […]

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