Can you be TOO passionate?

by Marcy Heim on May 11, 2022

Together. Again. Wohoo!

Sharon & Marcy

It was just the BEST! Three incredible and passionate IN PERSON experiences!

Congrats to The Volunteer Center, their passionate Executive Director Sharon Bass, and her team for a wildly successful Celebration of Service event! The hall was ignited with hundreds of energetic high school students through seniors who lend a hand and lead! You just can’t keep that volunteer spirit down!  An honor to be there to celebrate with you!

Led by the passionate Heather Hocker, Lubbock Symphony Guild member and conference co-chair, the Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras joined together IN PERSON to spark new fundraising success and present their Awards of Excellence in the amazing Buddy Holly Hall. A delight to be with you to inspire generosity and meet your amazing passionate philanthropists!

Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras

AFP Icon 2022Finally – after presenting online for the past two years – what a thrill to passionately present IN PERSON among almost 3000 colleagues at AFP ICON 2022 in Las Vegas. The fundraisers in my full-day session left inspired, equipped and hugged. It was four passion-filled days to be sure!

Yet there were times during this adventure when I became painfully aware that our passion can sometimes be too much…..

Can YOU be TOO passionate?

Here are a few examples of when passionate good intentions can go very wrong.

1. Change – and do it right now.

Actually, this one’s on me and I’m gonna be really transparent with you all.  Thanks to two incredible gals in my pre-conference session I had a real ah-ha. Having dedicated my life to empowering others to take personal responsibility for their lives, my passion can get in the way of my compassion for where someone is right now.

We all have limiting beliefs, challenges, and life struggles that make us feel we are not enough – not good enough to talk to that wealthy person, present that talk, make that ask.  We blame others for these beliefs. Having personally experienced (thanks to two kind but firm coaches) the life change of owning your limiting beliefs and repeatedly saying, “NO!” to letting them rule your self-esteem, I can get TOO passionate in wanting this same change for others – right now.

YOU are the only one who can make your change happen.  All my wanting it so passionately FOR YOU will not do it and I can come across as not “getting it.”  In fact, I DO get it – and I want something different for you. But my good intentions can go very wrong. I am sorry for any hurt I may have caused – please know my passion for your change comes from love.  

2. Thank you and how about more?

At AFP ICON there was a question from an audience in a session of over 300 about putting a giving envelope in with the thank you receipt letter. The speaker properly sensed this was a big deal and while he shared that in his research with clients, they did get gifts doing this, the audience overwhelming voted to NOT include an envelope.  I was among the raised hands. You may get some gifts but you raise far more disgust at your lack of true gratitude.  It’s a question I ask everyone I interview in feasibility studies and 100% say, “Can’t you ever just say thank you without having your hand out for more?”  Enough said.  Our passion for wanting more money goes really wrong here.

3. Don’t you care about the planet?  (Or cancer, or children, or whatever)

Chances are you work for a place where YOU are personally passionate about the mission. That’s a good thing. It’s the fuel that keeps us going in our challenging work. Yet sometimes our own passion comes across as shaming to others who don’t place your mission as the priority you do – or at all. It doesn’t mean it’s not important to them, or they don’t see the need, but it’s not THEIR PASSION.

You are not the one to judge how someone else chooses to present their philanthropy – or if they are philanthropic at all. You always have the opportunity to demonstrate the impact giving makes. Everyone’s lives are constantly changing – and this may inspire a new passion for your mission.  

4. We need to raise this now.

In our passion to accomplish something on a set timeline for our non-profit, we can decide our timeline is more important than the donor’s timeline. Sharing our need to raise the matching gift by X to properly market the opportunity to others, or sharing our campaign timeline, can spark action on the part of our donors.  However, especially in raising major gifts, it is always the donor’s timeline that needs to be discovered and respected.  Capacity, Interest, Readiness – the three data points to determine if the time is right.  

5. If we entice them to volunteer, (or anything) they will grow their own passion.

John David Latour Volunteer CenterOk – this is my BEST story! John David Latour, a student speaker at the Volunteer Center’s Celebration of Service asked a brilliant question in his talk. Was it right to “require” volunteering as part of leadership programs.  Did this foster the wrong reason to do it? Yet as he began to volunteer, he developed a sincere passion for it and concluded the requirement simply led to the chance to experience it. YES!

I gave my boys, from 3 or 4 years old – I forget – a “reward” of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards if they would sing a song for company at our house. Some would accuse me of bribing them.  Growing up we continually heard how “comfortable” our boys were talking to adults.  Today they are both accomplished public speakers, entertainers and shine in their work environments.  Let’s develop passions that allow us to thrive!

Cheers to YOU! May you find joy in living your passion! May you find patience with others who may not share your passion! May you be lifted up by the incredible opportunities to do good that come from partnering with those who share your passion.

Invest in JOY®


Your board-Are you sharing these Key Messages?

by Marcy Heim on April 27, 2022

Ok, I confess. Being in a room with Board and Leadership is THEE BEST THING I DO!  

Leading a Board Experiences is an opportunity for me to:

  • clear confusion
  • address distaste for the “f” word (fundraising, you silly)
  • plant seeds for BIG VISIONS and, 
  • provide a self-selected road-map of how to help with fundraising

……….and it leaves me SUPER-CHARGED!

Marcy Ask at CLC

Witnessing the “ah-ha’s, hearing their ideas (and in a “Marcy-session” – their asks) and, of course, singing, “People love to give me money!” is my idea of a perfect day. 

No matter how much you think your board knows, here are key messages to share with them again and again.  Why not just forward this post out to them? 

I attached it here as a PDF for you, too.

Marcy’s Big Ideas for GREAT Fundraising Board Members to know!

1.     Think about money differently.

Successful board members challenge limiting beliefs about money. “There’s not enough.” “We can’t afford it.” They get comfortable talking about what the money DOES in their non-profit.

2.     Have a Big Vision.

Big donors want big visions. Partner with, and challenge leadership to make a BIG difference.

3.     Reflect on your own commitment – emotionally and financially.

Your time is a great gift, but your dollars make the real statement to others.  Give your money.

4.     Remember, Individuals give the most and always have.

For the past forty years, of the billions given each year in the USA, consistently roughly 5% is given by corporations, 15% from foundations and 80% from INDIVIDUALS!

5.     Larger gifts are key to changing your results.

Large gifts are transformational. You must raise your sights from $5,000 to $50,000 to $5 Million and have clear giving options that accomplish clear results at these levels.

6.     You don’t have to ask for money to help.

You DO have to give yourself, consider others you know who have capacity, share your values and beliefs in your non-profit’s mission and engage them or connect your staff with them. Learn Marcy’s 3-sentence ask technique anyway – you may see how easy it can be to artfully ask for anything.

7.     Giving is not about getting – it’s about doing.

Even your corporate sponsors want something more meaningful than their name on your website. Stuff and perks are fine, but real impact is better.

8.     Focus on major gifts, not gimmicks.

Focus on relationships with those who can make major gifts. Raising TWO six-figure gifts brings better ROI than auctions, galas, outings and giving days that need scores of little donors (and take tons of staff time) to raise the same amount. 

9.     Date before you propose.

Consciously consider if you are being transactional or are you engaging in real conversations and meaningful experiences with others. Respect the pace of the person you date.


10.  Be excited about what you do!

Be an ambassador for your non-profit. Share what you are doing with others. Tell others why you serve and give!

Know that others take their cue from leaders like you.  How you think, how you talk about your big visions and goals, and how you give will inspire others to follow suit. Own this!  Inspire generosity! Shine on!

Invest in JOY®


Cultivating in Uncertain Times

April 13, 2022

Have you ever been around a farmer in spring? It’s a worrisome time.  Will there be enough rain, too much rain, the right temperatures and ???? YET….. every year THEY PLANT AND CULTIVATE their crops to bring us food – important work to be sure. Your work is important, too. And even in these uncertain […]

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Change your thinking, Change your Board

March 23, 2022

If you’re thinking your board and volunteers still prefer to zoom, change your thinking! When I look at my most successful clients RIGHT NOW – the ones who are having the greatest success with NEW major gifts – all are effectively and personally bringing people together. Meet Jill Vitale-Aussem. She’s CEO of Christian Living Communities in […]

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Be Prepared!

March 9, 2022

Some people just have that Midas touch! The story goes that King Midas was obsessed with gold and when granted a wish by the gods he quickly asked that everything he touched be turned to gold. As his wish played out, a rose, his breakfast and his beautiful daughter – all turned to gold upon […]

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Share your experience. Are you Efficient or Effective?

February 23, 2022

Automate, set up systems, create distribution lists, batch, group like tasks – in other words – be efficient! Make the most of your ever-so-limited time. And certainly we have more tools, and a wider acceptance for using them, than ever before. But what if all that efficiency isn’t leading to the best result? What if […]

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Six Simple Fun Donors Loves

February 9, 2022

Laughter and Love to YOU! It’s almost here! Valentine’s Day! Here are six simple and fun ways to show your donors love: 1. What Valentine’s Candy is never on time? Yep, ChocoLATE   Yet remember you can really never be late.  What if you sent an email on February 15th that said, “You’re support and caring for […]

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Better Think AGAIN – a tool for you.

January 26, 2022

Do you feel it, too?  Ongoing uncertainty – you are constantly reacting. A few days back things got tense around moving a meeting.  A client shared she’d yelled at her spouse for leaving the milk out and it spoiled.  It seems that even the most optimistic among us are on edge, crabby and frustrated. We […]

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It’s 2022 Now what? Creating a Joyful Giver

January 12, 2022

Ta da ta da……CHARGE! Let the new year BEGIN! Be BRAVE! You now have a new year to create joyful givers to partner with you to do your good in the world!  There’s nothing better!  Congrats to you for finishing up 2021 and bravely jumping in to greet what this year brings! Yesterday I shared […]

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It’s your fault!

December 8, 2021

Many folks have given up by now. It’s been quite the time. But not you. Nope. This rising JOY as the end of 2021 gets closer and closer is All. Your. Fault. You – the fundraiser, Executive Director, or volunteer who is so deeply dedicated to creating home for the disabled and frail, finding the […]

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