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Stephen C. Nill, JD

About Stephen

That thunderclap you just heard was The Donor Lifecycle Map being released

That thunderclap you just heard is Deborah Kaplan Polivy’s just-released book, The Donor Lifecycle Map: A Model for Success (CharityChannel Press, 2017).

I think every one of our authors is brilliant. But every now and then, someone steps forward with a proposed book that represents a pivot point for our sector — a new way of thinking that changes everything.

That happened when Steven L. Meyers wrote Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix (CharityChannel Press, 2015). In case you missed it, we reprinted a great review penned by our colleague, Stephan R. Limberg.

Yes, lightning does strike twice – especially when you stand in the rain while holding a lightning rod for book proposals, as we do.

Why Does the Donor Lifecycle Map Change Everything?

The Donor Lifecycle MapUntil now, the accepted wisdom in the nonprofit fundraising world was that everything you need to know about fundraising strategy is embodied in the venerable Donor Pyramid. In her brilliant yet down-to-earth and conversational book, Deborah Kaplan Polivy shows you how to retool your fundraising program by employing a much more powerful model—the Donor Lifecycle Map—in conjunction with the Donor Pyramid.

She shows us how nonprofit organizations and educational institutions will raise more funds and in a less painstaking way, where donors will contribute again and again, and where the relationships to the organization are so deepened in the process that an “ultimate” or endowment gift becomes increasingly likely.

The Donor Lifecycle Map: A Model for Fundraising Success  will help you:

  • Supercharge your organization to raise more money
  • Substantially increase the efficiency of your fundraising
  • Bring your fundraising operation into harmony with a donor’s natural philanthropic lifecycle
  • Understand the limitations of the venerable donor pyramid model of fundraising
  • Receive many more “ultimate” gifts from your donors
  • Position your fundraising program to grow in effectiveness over time
  • Measure fundraising success by designing metrics that track donor retention around the lifecycle map as opposed to annual financial results

Polivy, an experienced consultant, saw that the primary focus of fundraising officers and volunteers is symbolized by the Donor Pyramid—especially its highest point, major donors. What was missing was a view of fundraising that reflects the donor lifecycle from first gift to the ultimate gift. As a result, donor retention was not front and center where it belonged, and too many opportunities were lost. Polivy’s innovation is creating a model for strategic planning that incorporates the concepts of  both gift size and retention—the Donor Pyramid and the Donor Lifecycle Map.

Polivy walks you through, step by step, the mapping and strategic planning process. She provides real-world case studies that you, a busy practitioner, will appreciate.

She also emphasizes the important role that the board plays in recognizing the value of the model and encouraging its use in order to ensure fundraising success. She strongly supports ongoing board and staff training to keep an organization on course. She includes a chapter on community foundations where she shows that they, too, use the Donor Lifecycle Map as a framework for cultivating donors from their first gift to their final — the permanent endowment fund.

The oversize format of the book, 8.5"x 11", allows for large diagrams that are easy to see. These are particularly important when viewing her model Donor Lifecycle Maps.


The Donor Lifecycle Map: A Model for Fundraising Success,  is divided into the following chapters.

Chapter One : What is the Donor Lifecycle Map?

Chapter Two:  The Donor Lifecycle Map and the Donor Pyramid

Chapter Three:  Mapping Donor Data

Chapter Four:  Using the Donor Lifecycle Maps for Strategic Development Planning

Chapter Five:  Measuring Success

Chapter Six:  The Role of the Board in the Fund Development Process

Chapter Seven:  A Case Study: A Health Care Organization

Chapter Eight:  A Case Study: Reengaging Transformational Donors

Chapter Nine:  Applying the Donor Lifecycle Map to Different Nonprofit Models: The Community Foundation

Chapter Ten:  Conclusions

You can harness this lightning bolt on Amazon at


Stephen C. Nill, JD
Publisher, CharityChannel Press, an imprint of CharityChannel


Copyright © 1992-2018 CharityChannel LLC.


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