The Latest from TW&B: Blog


The Four Biggest Myths About Starting A Community Campaign

If you look for them, you will find numerous reasons why your campaign cannot possibly work.  They may be valid reasons to delay the start of your campaign, but the following are not among them!

1. You cannot have a campaign without an established and thriving annual fund already in place.

At the community level, it is the strength and urgency of your case for support that really carries the day.  Obviously, you are far better off with a large and generous donor base, as these individuals are already committed to the success of your organization.  But that doesn’t mean others won’t join in, even if they are not already part of the constituency.  If the case on behalf of their community is powerful enough, and if your organization has a strong and credible enough reputation (not to mention the good fortune of a unique market position), then local philanthropists and others with a sense of civic pride can be convinced to join in.  You will just have to organize it differently.

2. You must discontinue your annual fund during your campaign, because donors won’t support both.

Without a doubt, your community campaign is likely to have an impact on your annual fund, as many donors – particularly those at the lower levels of support – struggle with the trade-off decision as to where to put their finite resources.  You should think carefully about your strategy for achieving maximum participation in the campaign while sustaining current participation levels in the annual fund at the same time, and accomplishing a net increase in the average total contribution from each donor in the process.

One way of doing this is to include the annual fund as part of the larger fund drive so that donors can combine their commitments and earn combined campaign recognition at the same time.  It is wise to secure, if possible, one or two large unrestricted gifts from close friends of your institution to guarantee the requisite operating support during the campaign.  If you have the staff or volunteer resources, you can also run a special drive during your campaign to acquire new annual fund donors to help make up for the loss and at the same time help assure a stronger annual fund after the campaign is over.

3. Choose a goal that is bigger than you think you can achieve, because you will raise more that way.

Some people believe that the more you set out to raise, the more you will raise, whether you actually achieve your targeted goal or not.  Wrong!  What you are able to raise will depend upon a number of variables – all of them carefully planned and coordinated:

  1. Your institution’s strategic plan
  2. Your case for support
  3. The right number of prospects, at the right levels
  4. The right fundraising machinery – staff and volunteers
  5. A well organized campaign plan.

If you set out to raise more than you have the capacity to raise, and announce this goal publicly, and then fail to achieve it, you will be declaring your campaign a failure, and condemning your institution to a faulty reputation.  You will engender disappointment among your volunteers and your donors, and jeopardize the reputation of your executive director.  Choose an achievable goal; tie it to deliverable objectives, then go over the top, thereby proving to one and all that you are even stronger than they thought you were!

 4. If every member of your current donor base will just give the same pro rata “fair share” of the goal, then success will be assured.

 This is a classical error, even though it may make sense arithmetically.  First of all, there never was a fund drive of any sort that achieved 100% participation among its constituents.  So the basic arithmetic cannot succeed.  Second, human nature dictates that some people will respond more generously than others.  Even more important is the fact that, some people have the financial capacity to make much larger gifts than others, so if you can correlate these two characteristics, you will be able to accomplish what all successful campaigns do – build a “pyramid” of donors, with a relative handful of very large gifts at the top, and an increasing number of participants at each succeeding level moving downward, until you hit the very broadest participation in the gifts under $1,000, achieving wide community participation and public validation of your campaign.


Service Spotlight: Campaign Planning

With the year coming to a close, many of us are getting ready to travel, to celebrate the holidays with family and treat ourselves to a well-deserved vacation. But what seems like a nice break often takes a great deal of preparation. When we make our travel arrangements well enough in advance, we can get better deals on flights and hotels. We plan activities so that we know what we’re doing once we get to our destination. Some good planning ahead of time makes our trip relaxing and fun, rather than an anxiety-inducing scramble.

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How to Celebrate your Donors

Do you and your organizations CELEBRATE your donors?

I’m not referring to acknowledgment, recognition or stewardship, but actually celebrating their role in advancing the mission of your organization. Oftentimes nonprofit organizations get mired in the processes and procedures related to gift acknowledgement and recognition systems. Those are important elements of a successful development operation and should not be taken lightly. But by celebrating the gifts bestowed upon our organizations from our varied donor constituencies, we develop stronger, sometimes lifelong, relationships. Continue reading


Going the Extra 3,000 Miles

For all of us who work at TW&B, spending time on a client’s turf is essential. On site visits, personal meetings, and any other form of direct interaction with the real-life places in which our clients operate is critical for us. This interaction is key for us to shape a case for support, discover fundraising challenges and opportunities, and to develop a plan to advance each organization’s mission. In the case of TW&B client, Cofan Survival Fund (CSF), the “turf” is 1 million acres of the Amazon tropical rainforest in Ecuador, for which the indigenous Cofan Tribe has legal management authority and in some cases, legal title.

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Service Spotlight: Executive Search

Talent acquisition for any organization is a monumental undertaking. In the non-profit sector it is especially challenging. That’s why organizations reach out to TW&B to assist them in finding accomplished professionals to meet their staffing needs. Given our experience both as chief development officers and consultants, we know how to recruit proven leadership.

Our goal in all of our searches is to identify  the best candidates matching both experience and personality to the needs of the organizations we serve.  Whether it is conducting a search for a chief executive officer or a chief development officer, TW&B’s extensive regional and national network of organizations, institutions, and professional affiliations, gives our clients access to top-notch candidates.

Our process includes interviews with key senior management and board leadership to determine the type of candidate being sought. We  prepare a position description to aid in our efforts to  seek  potential candidates from our network of nonprofit contacts. After conducting extensive screening and interviews, we present our clients with excellent candidates which meet their requirements.

To learn more about our Executive Search services, please contact Heidi Waltner-Pepper at or call 312.222.0560.


Good Strategic Planning Should Precede Your Campaign

Regardless of your institution’s reliance on strategic planning as a regular part of institutional governance and management, your case for support will be far stronger if it is based on a recent and thorough review of direction and priorities.

Additionally, many institutions have a difficult time getting their board members to focus on the need for a campaign, and their respective roles in making it a success. Often, this is because the board is put in a reactive position to the institutional objectives presented rather than having a sense of ownership, as their fundamental role requires. Continue reading


The Role of Board Members in a Capital Campaign

Aside from their responsibilities for self-perpetuation, and the selection and oversight of administrative leadership, the two fundamental responsibilities of a not-for-profit governing board are to assure that their institution makes continued progress in the furtherance of its mission, and to guarantee the availability of the financial resources necessary to do so. Both of these latter charges come into sharp focus in relation to capital campaigns. Continue reading


Service Spotlight: Fundraising Analytics

Incorporating analytics in the fundraising process is more than the latest trend. It is a critical component for organizations in their quest to raise more money.

Consider the 2012 presidential election. Using analytics, famed statistician Nate Silver predicted the outcome of every state correctly. Political campaigns are using analytics to get out the vote. Modern political campaigns know precisely on which doors to knock at the local level to get their likely voters to the polls. They marshal their limited resources efficiently in a short amount of time for maximum result. Continue reading

The Odd Couple: Capital Campaigns and Planned Giving

Historically, planned giving and fundraising campaigns have had a somewhat rocky relationship. There is sometimes a dismissive attitude towards planned giving (and, by extension, those making planned gifts) from the principal and major gifts departments of development. This attitude usually stems from the rather erroneous assumption that those prospects opting for planned gifts really are “getting off easy,” and that development shops that promote planned giving enable major gift prospects to take the easy way out. Continue reading