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Nill’s Amazing Truths of Fundraising: A Series (Part 5)

Author’s Note:  This is the fifth in a series of articles growing out of a session I conducted at the CharityChannel Summit 2003 in Palm Springs in March.  In this series, I present a strategic perspective on fund development that will, if adopted, substantially increase the volume of funds raised in the near-, medium-, and long-term.  Warning:  My perspective does not come from a text book on fund raising.  Rather, it is a perspective gained in my two decades in the trenches, where I’ve built, managed, and/or advised several hundred fund development programs.  My having a front row, center seat at CharityChannel these past 10 years, where I’ve carefully followed thousands of forum submissions around the topic of fund raising, convinces me that it’s more important than ever to gain clarity on the role of the fund development function for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.  I hope this series will stimulate new thinking and help more than a few substantially to increase fund-raising effectiveness.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, this is a good time to give you the opportunity to view a debate on this topic between my colleague Renata Rafferty and me, conducted at the opening plenary breakfast session of the CharityChannel Summit 2003 in Palm Springs.

I took the position espoused in this series:  That fund development officers are to be held accountability for the funds they raise, and that the way to raise the most money for a nonprofit organization is to focus on those who have the capacity and motivation to make big gifts.  Mrs. Rafferty took the traditional position of fund development, that the emphasis should not be on going for the big dollars, but that the necessary support will come with a more broad-based approach.

We aimed a video camera at the stage, and now make the debate available to you for viewing:

Stephen Nill

About the Contributor: Stephen Nill

Stephen Nill founded CharityChannel in 1992 as a means of connecting his nonprofit hospital chain’s fund development staff over the Internet to their colleagues at other organizations. That first discussion community grew into what is today the oldest and largest community of third-sector professionals in the world, comprised of well over 100,000 participants worldwide. He has been working in the US and international third sector for more than 30 years. He has served as the Chief Development Officer at a major Southern California university, the CEO of a large health care foundation, a vice-president of fund development of a U.S. west-coast nonprofit hospital chain, as a founder and acting director of development of a parochial school in his community, and as a founder of an organization dedicated to providing food and clothing for homeless persons in Southern California.

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