YOU can learn from this Celebration!

by Marcy Heim on August 28, 2019

What YOU can learn from GCA’s CELEBRATION!

You make good happen with the gifts given to your mission through you. Let’s Celebrate!  And never forget YOU are a gift in my life! Let’s Celebrate!

WoHOO!GCA Celebration 2019

Check out this celebration! On Friday, August 23, I had the delight and honor of celebrating with my VIP client, Georgia-Cumberland Academy – a Adventist boarding high school tucked into the Georgia mountains.  About three years ago we began a journey to raise the $10 million needed for renovation and construction of a new wellness center, cafeteria, student center, entryway and office spaces. We are on our way to $14 Million now and we are celebrating!

During the event, Greg Gerard, Principal, recognized all those who had a major role in the project’s success.  Nancy Gerard, Development Director, shared how the project has redefined the future of Adventist education and two donors shared why they gave. Included was an unexpected standing-ovation tribute (and SO DESERVED) to the Gerards by the Conference President, Ed Wright. The grand finale was a ribbon cutting involving scores of folks and 250 plus students marching through under a sea of confetti to a John Phillips Sousa March performed by student musicians!  WoHOO! Yes..I was totally bawling by this point. This is Investing in JOY!

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

Remember…it’s not about the money – it’s about what the money does.  These dollars created some amazing new space, but really the money provided an environment worthy of the amazing spiritual and academic growth that happens within these spaces – it’s all about the students and their faith. THAT’S what the money does.

Now listen up. This is NOT the time to be thinking, “We could never do this” and begin listing all the reasons why. No matter if you are a one-person shop or part of 250 in a major university or hospital;  No matter if you are faith-based or not; No matter if you are year 1 or year 31 in your work; No matter what your mission…

YOU can learn from this celebration and raise more major gifts!

What YOU can learn from this Celebration!

1. You must be BOLD!

When I began with GCA they had one person doing alumni relations, parent relations, events, annual fund, and major gifts (sort of) and most anything else that needed doing.   Five and six figure gifts were few and a $10-$12 million goal looked like a BIG number. You must be BOLD!  It’s more than having a vision, it’s a boldness to say, ‘We are going to do this!’ and believing you will.  Believe me…that belief will be tested before you are through.

2. You must believe in abundance.

Either you live in a world of lack or you see the universe as an abundant place.  If you feel there is not enough money ‘out there’ to do your vision you will prove this to be true…and fail in the process.  Either you believe that the universe is loving and abundant or you don’t.  When you don’t, yours is a scrappy existence, clawing away at getting your piece of a limited pie before someone else beats you to it.

3. You must be willing to do things differently.

When you do things the same way you will get what you always got. Dah. Where will you invest your time? Running after social media clicks does not raise major gifts. Saying “We can’t afford a second person to take care of the data management, or events or whatever” is the WRONG mindset.  “HOW can we afford a second person? Let’s figure it out!”

4. You must focus on results – not reasons and excuses.

When you are a victim of your circumstances, poor you can’t possibly make 20 visits a month, or 30 phone calls or any set of metrics. There are just too many pressing interruptions. Goodness, someone must make brownies for the Friday night meeting!  Events are the biggest excuse of all!  The focus needs to be on meeting metrics, being accountable to having the actual giver conversations – face to face – person to person.

5. You must be willing to create relationship action plans.

When I attended Jimmy LaRose’s workshop recently he described a big event that announced the case to a key audience of prospective major givers.  The goal was to get a YES from everyone there….FOR A VISIT! And following this event, a personal plan was to be developed AND IMPLEMENTED for each person there.  The number of visits to the ask will be different for each major prospective giver….but the discipline to create and implement a personal plan for each donor is key to success.

6. You must ASK for the investment.

My dear friend and colleague, Penelope Burke, has ask scores of donors over the years why they give. Number 1 – always – they believe in the mission.  Number 2 – THEY ARE ASKED! No, a little bird doesn’t flit by and tweet in their ear.  Using my trademark 3-sentence ask leads us to a delighted, “yes!”  And…as we celebrate, know that this is a LIFETIME giving relationship…continuing the conversation.

Ribbon Cutting Beth, Nancy, Marcy Melanie, N

7. You must be persistent.

Don Gray, Founder of the wildly successful non-profit conference in Madison coined the phrase, “patient persistence.”  This is spot on. It’s not our timeline (or the campaign timeline) but the donor’s timeline. But we need to be ever-present, calmly pursuing the perfect time for their transformational gift!

8. You must be grateful.

There is nothing more powerful in our success than deep, sincere gratitude – for our givers, our colleagues, our blessings, our family and friends, and ourselves…and the unique gift we are as we serve throughout our lives. When you are grateful for what is happening in your life, the universe will send you more to be grateful for. Period. On the roughest of disappointments, be grateful for the lesson. At the event celebration be grateful for the largest and smallest contribution.

9. You must give yourself and of yourself.

We reap what we sow. If you want others to give their time volunteering, volunteer. If you want others to give their money, give money. We must give FIRST to attract more money to us.  When we hold back on our giving, we are really saying we are afraid there isn’t enough. In fact, the more we give that more that comes back to us.  The universe fills the vacuum.

Little girl at GCA Ribbon Cutting

10. You must celebrate and embrace your success!

Take it in. Stop, reflect, sit back and just soak it in. Too soon we are onto the next thing on the “to do” list (or in Marcy-speak – ‘GET to do Today List’).  For sure I just SAT there for 2 hours after the event – considering all the giver stories, all the kids impacted, each beautiful piece of woodwork and stone, the unique lights, the teachers, the music and how wonderful this all was. When we don’t stop to do this, it can begin to feel like thankless hard work – appreciate YOU and the results you have – from one good donor conversation to completing something big like a campaign….each to be celebrated and embraced!

Celebrate! And know that I celebrate you and all you do each and every day!

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

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