Be the person you want to be with!

by Marcy Heim on April 10, 2019

Are you fun to be with? Do you leave your donors excited and uplifted…or deflated and glad THAT’S over?  Remember..every time you interact with another person you have an opportunity to leave them in a different place. It’s NOT about you, your day, your problems, your opinions or your crap.

AFP ICON 2019 Session

What a gift to be surrounded by over 7000 development professionals and your incredible zest for your missions and donors!  I’m just back from standing room-only sessions at AFP ICON, (Thank you Kendall!) Marcy & Kendall

NAYDO (Thank you, Carolyn, Mary and Pam!) plus great experiences with Marcy, Shayna, Kishshanaprivate clients. Thank you!  Kishshana Palmer and I redefined the CFRE Refresher Course experience at AFP ICON too! Thanks Kish! WoHoo!


Also at AFP-ICON I was delighted to catch up with friend and donor researcher, Penelope Burk. With over 3 decades of successful major gift work, I would say, “In my experience…”and her research would dig deep into what donors feel and think and prove me right!

In a nutshell,

Leave another person better

Here are my Top 10 ways you can be the person your givers want to be with.

  1. Be eager towards life.  Each day is a gift, not a burden.
  2. Understand that face-to-face visits are scary at first for givers too.
  3. Be interested in your givers, yet also be willing to briefly share your story.
  4. Be fun. It doesn’t mean you’re not “professional.”
  5. Be polite, but not stiff.
  6. Take care of yourself so you are alert and focused.
  7. Be clear.
  8. Be brief but not hurried.
  9. Be grateful and appreciative.
  10. Continuously connect the dots between your donors giving and what the money does.

I love, love, love the energy at conferences. We grow from the messages of the presenters, by networking with each other, and through the reflection that getting away from our regular days affords us.

Here are some ah-ha’s I had from being there as participant and presenter:

*Older donors are narrowing their giving focus to larger gifts for fewer organizations because they perceive there is are costs to giving and this is less as a percentage the larger the gift. Penelope Burk research

*In all our life experiences – “good” and “bad” 1) find the lesson, 2) ask for help and 3) create social value – this is not political, rather, do something for someone else. Spencer West (keynote speaker who has no legs by the way)

*Donors want THREE things every time they give. 1) To be acknowledged promptly IN THE MAIL, 2) The ability to give to a specific project or program (vs unrestricted) and 3) A report in meaningful terms from the organization describing what happened with their gift.  Penelope Burk research

*When a Board member calls and leaves a brief thank you message (most of the time) or shares a brief conversation, 95% of the donors who received the calls said this was key in them giving again.  Penelope Burk research

*The hardest part of completing anything is really the middle. You start off with a bang, then energy falters, and the last push to finish can seem really hard. Give yourself the gift of Finished! Jon Acuff

*People love to give me money! Marcy Heim…singing with you all!

Finally, several speakers addressed chronic overtime and the self-care needed in our profession. Coming up in May, I’ll be keynoting a large senior care conference about the nursing team continuing to balance what can be draining deep care for patients and residents and having a life at the end of the work day free of the weight of the work.  Chronic overtime is a complete WASTE of time. The research shows you are 50% less productive after 8 hours…and it only gets worse.

Exhausted, worrying and wondering if you can eek something out of your main donors diminishes the joy of giving for them AND you! You will never know what a donor might do because they don’t know – that’s why you are on the journey together!

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


It’s time to hire! Again

by Marcy Heim on March 13, 2019

Hope this finds you feeling like spring is approaching. Here in Wisconsin we seem to be past the deep freeze! Wohoo! And I got the Christmas tree down. Wohoo!

As I work with clients and interview major donors as part of campaign-readiness studies, the sadness and heaviness around staff coming and going is very real. We DO form relationships and these changes leave holes.

A seven-figure community donor said to me during an interview, “I don’t even bother to learn their name anymore. It will be someone different the next time.”  Sharon Bass, Executive Director, The Volunteer Center, Lubbock and a rockstar ED in my Dream-Act-Achieve Coaching program has experienced several staff changes – some welcome, some not.  She shares, “We struggled with a team member who repeatedly had attitude issues. This drama was sucking so much air out of much energy. There is no sense trying to make it work after several direct conversations about the concerns.”

When we experience a departure, positive or pushed, Sharon is realistic. “Somebody is going to have to do that work in the meantime. All of it will fall on a team that is already maxed out. But one of the great things we have learned is to be patient and believe that we will find the right people.”

Sheree Allison

Following is a guest blog from my colleague and friend, Sheree Allison, President of Thrive consulting in Canada. “It’s time to hire. Again” is spot on.  You can read more from Sheree on her website at

join our team

It is time to hire.  Again.

It’s open season in hiring for most organizations. Check with a colleague or visit a nonprofit and you’ll hear about “hard to fill positions” and “it’s tough to keep good staff” and “can’t compete with compensation”. On top of that, you’ll hear a general weariness about “not enough staff and no one to hire”.

Are you sure about that?

People ARE your organization. Without the best people, you will constantly be in a hiring race. After 30 years of serving as Executive Director, I know the race well. All the money you can raise has little impact if the day to day work is not driven by the best people. With over 25% of people changing jobs every year, it’s a mobile market. There’s plenty of talent on your doorstep.

What does it take to get them in your door? It takes both a unique way of thinking followed by a unique approach. You know exactly what you need. Yet so often you step over that, or you step sideways and settle for someone who you know in your heart isn’t a fit. Consider that when you interview, you want to look for and listen for a few little things that tell you a whole lot. They’re quite simple but powerful.

1. Watch how the person arrives for the interview.

If you watch carefully, you’ll see how they handle themselves when meeting strangers. Most likely, the first person they meet is someone they don’t know. Are they shy and timid? Overly boisterous and loud? Make a mental note of how they handle themselves when they arrive. Remember, your work is all about people. You know exactly how you’d want them to present themselves out and about.

2. Look for enthusiasm.

It can’t be manufactured, so look for it during the interview. If it doesn’t show up in the interview, it’s unlikely they’ll pack it when they come to work. Talk to them about things that matter to them instead of what you need done or what the organization needs. You want to hear them tell you with enthusiasm what matters to them and what they are good at. That’s something you can build on. Without enthusiasm, the spark is hard to ignite.  Think about how many times you’ve hired dead embers that never caught fire. My guess is A LOT.

3. Drill for real.

Just as you are anxious and revved up to hire, the person you are interviewing should be equally revved up. It’s like the perfect storm in a pressure cooker. You have the questions and they have the answers. Somehow it all has to come together in 45 minutes so you know if they are the right hire. Your job is to drill to REAL. Who is this person REALLY? What do they TRULY offer? And do they TRULY want this job? Ask the questions that tell you what makes them tick.

check references

4. Check those references!

It’s not that common in small shops. Is it important? Yes. Does it get done? Not often. It may be hard to believe that people get hired and no references get checked, but it happens more often than not. Small to mid-sized nonprofits don’t have HR staff to handle the hiring, so it gets added to the Executive Director’s task list.

References don’t get checked because:

– You’re rushed (you wear 9 other hats throughout the course of a day, after all)

– Your scarce beliefs (“There’s a real shortage of good people so I’m not going to delay”)

– Your gut instinct (you “feel it” and plus you “really like them” and you’re “sure it’s a fit”)

You convince yourself it’s the right decision and sign the paperwork. That’s how references fall off your desk and don’t get done. I’ve got my own little databank of proof that references get skipped. Of the last three staff who left our organization to take jobs in much bigger shops (two in business and one in government), not a single reference was checked. No calls in. No emails. No asks about what their work was like or the value they added.

Hiring great talent starts with YOU.

And it starts with listening, observing and deciding. There may be no rule book, no right or wrong – and there IS a way to do it better than you’ve done it up to this point. Let this be the year you truly OWN your hiring process.

A Final note from Marcy….

This gives you some great advice! Thank you, Sheree!

I also like to use an assessment tool called the Kolbe test.  Look for more on that in the next issue!  In the meantime, we are all juggling our lives as best we can. Be kind to yourself in the 3-ring hiring circus.  Do we have to blame someone when it doesn’t work?  Or when someone leaves? Let’s sigh, take a deep breath, let go of “why me?” and move into “What’s next?”  It may well be an incredible new hire that’s just the person you’ve been looking for!

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


Want different fruit- look at the roots?

February 27, 2019

Don’t like the fruit? Look at the roots. Are you and your board disappointed with your results? Are you struggling to get together on a plan for growth? Not sure what you can raise?  Wish you had more time with your family? Wish the Board was more ‘on board’? Weren’t working evenings? Down to that […]

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You are a Gift! I appreciate you.

February 14, 2019

  Roses are Red Violets are Blue YOU are a gift! I appreciate YOU! May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love, your favorite chocolate and flowers. There is still time to shine and share your love and appreciation with YOUR special family, givers and friends. Create your own Roses are Red verse.  Email it, […]

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Fundraising Lessons from Shelling in Florida

January 23, 2019

You are in an honorable and noble profession and your work is SO important. It’s challenging and rewarding. Fine-tuning your own restoration is as important as continually learning new skills. For me, there’s nothing like the ocean to restore a full tank of optimism and energy!  And, there is nothing more powerful than storytelling.  So […]

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Be More Confident! 10 Habits to Drop Now!

January 9, 2019

It’s a new year. Regardless of what happened last year or yesterday, you have a new day today. Confident people trust in their ability to navigate.  No matter the obstacles, they believe they will make it to their destination. That conviction attracts others because it makes them feel more confident in themselves. Real confidence takes […]

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Plan Your 2019 Off-Season!

December 27, 2018

You can create your off-season! What? Let me share a story. Last year I earned my Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) credential!  Wohoo!  Turns out the National Speakers Association hosts a conference JUST for CSP’s to gather and grow.  One of our session leaders was Walter Bond – a former NBA professional basketball player. Now he’s […]

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Today is Your Day!

December 12, 2018

Today is your DAY! Is today just a place between stressing over what didn’t get done yesterday and what’s on the list for tomorrow? Is today what you pass through getting to “someday” when you will “arrive?”  When the time will be right? When your ship will come in? When you can finally get some […]

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How will I get it all done? Get in the zone!

November 29, 2018

Ever feel, “Wowza! How will I get it all done?” You are making time to be grateful to the people who have supported you in the past. You are reaching out to connect with, and serve, as many people as possible to help them accomplish their year-end giving goals. And you have a slew of […]

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Thankful for You!

November 22, 2018

Giving thanks to YOU on Thanksgiving. Grateful for the good YOU unleash in the world! I am thankful for …Unending ways to continue to learn – if your not growing your dying – and I’m a-growing! …My family… and you – the joy you bring to me, and to the world, and the gift I […]

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