Wanna Do EVERYTHING Better?

by Marcy Heim on August 22, 2018

Do you agree there’s magic in Three’s? number 3

The research will support you on this.  Going to the store for three things?  You say them to yourself. Ok. Four?  Probably need to write a list. There is something “doable” and memorable about three. This is important to understand in both your major gift development work…and your life.  And you know I want BOTH to ROCK for you!

Why is this practice of three important?

  1. Clarity – we can take it in verbally and in writing.
  2. Priority – what REALLY is the first priority?  The ole’ “urgent” vs “important” conundrum.
  3. Mindset peace – managing three of anything does not feel overwhelming for most.

While this applies to EVERYTHING you want to do better, let me share three (of course) examples of applying the Practice of Three:

  1. Year-end appeals (it’s time to be planning these!)
  2. Major donor relationships (where your transformative giving happens!)
  3. Your day, Your week, Your life (where you get your so-important personal JOY!)

Clarity, priority & mindset

Year-end appeals (it’s time to be planning these!)

It’s that time of year. Start now in planning and creating a successful year-end appeal process.  This includes the direct mail, email, social media and sometimes annual fund personal visits to inspire the most generosity during the historically most generous time of year.

3 messages

How can the Practice of Three help you?

1. Create your Three KEY MESSAGES about your impact, complete with a story for each.  Don’t go wandering off from these in ANY communication or toss in a last-minute additional idea. FOCUS! When anyone – donors, board, recipients, volunteer, community – thinks about you, what immediately comes to their minds?  Sure, change up the format to fit the delivery method, but don’t waver from the THREE key messages.

2. Create your Three (or multiples of 3) touches.  How many total messages you send depends on what you can manage well, given your unique circumstances.

3. In all your messages, are you vomiting information on them?  Be sure each letter, email, text, post has three, and only three total “things” going on.  For example, “update story, opportunity to invest, clear ask.”

Major donor relationships (where your transformative giving happens!)

Let’s look at three components of creating high-value Major Donor Relationships. 

1. Marcy’s Major Donor visits

Prior to each visit consider what three goals you want to accomplish on the visit.  These might be 1) build rapport, appreciate and learn something about your giver, 2) deliver up to three key messages about your organization’s impact and options for investment and 3) set up a clear next step.

2. Marcy’s Major Donor letter

For my 20+ successful years personally raising major (5-7 figure) gifts, I structured every correspondence with three elements. These were 1) sincere appreciation, 2) copy around options for them in terms of dollars required to accomplish a certain impact and 3) the next action for them to look forward to.

3. Marcy’s 3-sentence ask

Since the Fundraising and Development Conference was launched at the University of Wisconsin 25 years ago, I’ve been teaching my 3-sentence ask.  (Go here for a download of the worksheet).  In a nutshell, you create three sentences; You have (a sincere compliment about them and their relationship with you). You understand (their connection to this ask). Would you consider a gift of ($____) for (project/purpose).

Your day, Your week, Your life (where you get your so-important personal JOY!)

Overwhelmed? Most of us have moments of this daily. Managing it requires many practices and the simplicity of three can be a major step towards enjoying the journey of life more.

3 keys

1. Your Day

Your three steps…1) Begin your day with STATING LOUDLY, “I CREATE MY LIFE!” This declares that you are taking personal responsibility for what happens in your day. You are not a victim of circumstances.  Life does not happen TO you. YOU are in the driver’s seat.  Then, 2) What will move your most important goals forward today? What three actions must you take to smile at day’s end? DO these. And finally, 3) Give thanks each day for all that is good in your life.

2. Your Week

My VIP clients all complete my 7-Day Summit each week and have an accountability call with me. They credit this practice as the single most critical piece of their success in accomplishing both personal and professional goals.  Within this summit, we lay out the three top priorities for the next week in addition to exploring both mindset and methods factors that contributed to the week they experienced.

3. Your Life

They are those who make the simple complex (but oh are they busy) and those who make the complex simple.  Truly it is peeling away the layers of needless jargon, comparison, and getting caught up in the drama of the day that leaves room for the white space where you can enjoy your life.  Creating three simple ideas about what makes your life ideal sets this as an intention.  Our words become our thoughts and our thoughts become our feelings which in turn dictate how we take the action that leads to our results. Whew! A long journey to get something done!

My wish for you is to apply the Practice of Three imperfectly.  Keep giving it a whirl and you will discover that it sets clear intentions for your work and life.  “Everything” is NOT due today.  “Everyone” is NOT expecting something from you.  “Everybody” is NOT wanting one thing more from you.

“Today before Tomorrow.”  Enjoy this great work and life we “GET” to lead!

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 KK@MarcyHeim.com


Four Tips to Finding Fulfillment in Fundraising!

by Marcy Heim on August 8, 2018

You could feel the excitement as the dots connected at my MORE Major Gifts workshop! Artful relationship MORE Major Gifts group Aug 2018 management! YES!

This class, for the first time, contained a Board President, Director of Development and Development Assistant – all from the same organization!   You can be sure they will meet a massive year-end matching challenge after attending together!  WoHOO!

Regardless of the role you play, funding your mission is fulfilling like nothing else!

It can also be overwhelming and frustrating.  We ALL share a common theme of too many distractions, too many tasks to get done, too much pulling us away from major gift work and just too much.

Here are Four Tips for Finding YOURSELF on the “Fulfilled” side of the equation.

 4 Tips for Finding Fulfillment in Fundraising!fulfillment

1. Focus; If only we could focus on being focused!

  • Phone calls, Email messages, Text messages, Notifications, Facebook updates, LinkedIn requests, Instagram, Snap, Twitter feeds, and mindless YouTube videos all scream…LOOK AT ME.
  • TV ads, Magazines, Bumper stickers, Car wraps and Billboards scream…LOOK AT ME!
  • Today’s news “crisis” Colorful banner ads, pop windows, click bait, fake news, unwanted survey’s, sensational and misleading headlines, endless hyperlinks all BEG for your click.

The goal of these relentless, aggressive siren songs from our environment?  Divert your attention so that what was once yours is now theirs – your focus. Your attention, energy, money (whatever) is now focused on them. Is it really any surprise that we are becoming less efficient, lagging in productivity and feeling more scattered?

The answer: Make the complex SIMPLE.

  • Ask yourself, “What will I do today to move my most important relationships forward?”
  • Skip a day on social media
  • Turn off the TV and don’t listen to the news or at least don’t go into drama over it
  • Start each day with gratitude calls – gratitude brings clarity
  • Listen to music with no vocals – just music
  • Reduce options in your life – Fewer restaurants, fewer activities. This sounds limiting, but actually will bring you calm.
  • Create a short “Yes” list of key priorities and stick to it. Say, “No” more.
  • Pile everything on your desk into one pile at the end of the day – looking less cluttered looks simpler when you come in tomorrow.
  • Keep a list of the day’s GET To Do’s (5 max) posted in the same place – in clear view
  • Schedule the 5 most important tasks you are doing in the day as appointments
  • When something takes you away – a donor drops in, great gift in the mail – say, “I choose to welcome this new action into my day” and embrace it, welcome it. This lets you be joyful instead of resentful.
  • Be completely quiet and still for 5 minutes and breath
  • Make your bed

2. Forward Thinking

You crack up if you are constantly looking in the rear-view mirror. Drive your car and your life the same – with forward thinking.

  • Stop saying, “You always…” about others or yourself. That drags along the past and doesn’t acknowledge that people can change.
  • Each morning you get to decide how you will walk through your day.  “I create my Life!”
  • Look forward to the results you want – have goals that excite you!
  • Talk as if the results you want have already happened. “When we complete this new building drive the new exhibits will wow our young science visitors!”
  • Talk about your donors as investors.  “With John’s investment and Sarah’s investment we will take a giant step forward.”  Talk about these gifts coming in – it will pull you into taking actions with the donors because you get eager to have the result you are talking about.
  • Endowments will ensure good continues.  Talk about endowment and the future. Have a great donor story to share and share it a lot!
  • ONLY look back at the end of each day to CELEBRATE what you DID get done this day!

3. Fun

Another day, another 24 hours of overwhelming demands. NO! Laugh. Just people laughinglaugh. It’s possible. Everyone will wonder what is going on.

  • Smile
  • Bring healthy food to share
  • Learn 3 corny, funny jokes…ie What did one sidewalk say to the other sidewalk?  Meet you on the corner.  HAHAHAHAHA.
  • Say nice things to others with energy and sincerity.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Send flowers.
  • Leave little notes on your colleagues’ desks.
  • Be fun to be with.
  • Say, “I GET to do this work.” Shake this feeling of “Have to.” You picked this work and it is wonderful work – don’t allow it to become a mental chore for you.

4. Friendships

Funerals aren’t the only time to appreciate those around you as “friends.”

  • Have you gathered a group of “friends” that gripe about the world being distressing?  Do you engage in the drama or, as Nelson Mandela would advise, rise above it?
  • Hug a porcupine. We share the same values. Practice truly appreciating that someone believes exactly the opposite you do.  They are not stupid, or not enlightened, or wrong or bad. They just don’t believe what you do.
  • Take a suspicious view of “facts.”  As a scientist, my research would involve collecting data, analyzing that data, interpreting that data and inferring information from it. There were many opportunities to accidently or on purpose skew the results.  And you never “finish.” Tomorrow there will be a deeper level of understanding that changes everything you once believed as fact.  Butter, now exonerated, is a great example.  In other words – don’t judge others.
  • Embrace every opportunity to engage others in getting your goals accomplished.  Delegate clearly and often in every way possible! (and it’s ok if they mess up and don’t do it the way you do it)
  • Are your donors friends or not?  Do you only see them as sources of money and it is your professional work to shift that money to your organization?  It’s less complicated not to care, I get that but I’ll still go for “friendships” versus “professional acquaintances.”  To me this pulls me to be more focused on the donor’s outcomes as they relate to our funding priorities.
  • Be thankful every day for ALL of your relationships.  Best time is to say, “I am grateful for”…and list the names as you are laying in bed going to sleep.

love your life

For our fundraising work to be fulfilling, it must be focused on results that inspire us, forward thinking – looking to the good we are creating, fun and filled with laughter and filled with relationships managed with simple respect, kindness and love.

You are doing honorable, wonderful work. I applaud you and I am here for you – always.

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 KK@MarcyHeim.com


Your 3rd Quarter Vision. A million dreams is all it’s gonna take!

July 11, 2018

 As much as I am deliberately in the moment, present, drinking in every minute of this glorious summer, it is slipping past too fast.  Do you ever feel this? And somehow summer explodes all sorts of new ideas in my head – different ways to inspire generosity, to serve my clients, to help YOU have more […]

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Problems & Challenges: Bring Em On!!

June 27, 2018

“The secret to success is not to try to avoid or get rid of or shrink from your problems; the secret is to grow yourself so that you are bigger than any problem.” —T. Harv Eker Some days it seems everything is a challenge. Major gift calls cancel, the data base fails, you get bad […]

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A Bizarre Tale from South Africa

June 6, 2018

Ever had a volunteer’s passion go to unhelpful extremes? Let me share a tale from my trip to South Africa. We were told to bring candy, stickers and soccer balls, if we wished, for the fifty or so 1st to 8thgraders at a small black school near our safari camp.  So with candy, stickers and […]

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What does your future hold?

May 23, 2018

My son, RJ, just graduated from the UW Madison! Yep…we are bursting with pride and spent a wonderful 4 days celebrating. In a few short weeks he’ll be off to Boulder, Colorado and a new job with Major League Baseball Advanced Media creating some sort of mobile app. A sweet job, indeed. WoHOO! At 23, […]

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Part IV – If only my Board would help show our appreciation

May 9, 2018

It was a whirlwind four-conference speaking tour at the AFP International Conference, NAYDO, AFP Genesee Valley and LeadingAge Iowa. Even the 5:45 am flights were AWESOME!  (well that may be a bit of a stretch). I must share the most amazing surprise at the AFP Genesee Valley Conference–  JOY cookies!  The entire conference was themed […]

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Part III – If Only My Board Would Help! Invite them to Invest!

April 25, 2018

“Ambassadors ALL!” At my talk at the AFP International Conference in New Orleans, I kicked off with a TEST! “Stand up if you think it’s true, “Board members should not be pressured into giving or helping raise money.” I’d say it was about 50/50. Answer? True. More on that in a bit. Reconnecting with my […]

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Part II – If Only my Board would Help – Board Bonanza

April 11, 2018

Thinking of buying a Mini SUV? Suddenly you see them everywhere. Getting married? SO many must-haves! Taking up ballroom dancing? Posters for dances suddenly abound. Believe me–the cars, wedding info and dance clubs have always been there – NOW you notice and perhaps even get a bit overwhelmed! Do you really need a $90 wedding […]

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Part 1- If only my Board would help

March 23, 2018

I get an earful about Boards. You may feel it’s going pretty well with your Board or you may not even be a part of the Board meetings (sigh). You may be pleased with the contributions they are making – of time and dollars – or be ready to “pass the hat” and go for […]

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