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The Fundraiser's Measuring Stick
Sizing Up the Attributes Board Members, Volunteers and Staff Must Cultivate to Secure Major Gifts
Highly effective fundraisers share striking similarities – in their attitude, in the way they approach their work, and in the strategies they use to inspire and motivate donors to give stretch gifts.
Jerold Panas, in his decades of consulting work, has observed thousands of these great fundraisers up close – staff, board members, and volunteers.
To put you on the fast track to becoming an even better fundraiser than you are, Panas examines each of these key attributes in The Fundraiser’s Measuring Stick, and along the way supplies countless examples of how you yourself can cultivate these qualities and put them into practice.
It may surprise you that some of the most successful fundraisers NEVER ask for a gift, and yet the money flows in. Equally surprising is the fact that those who are the most afraid of asking often become the best solicitors. And it’s strange, too, to learn that following the conventional practices of fundraising will often prevent you from securing a gift.
As with any Jerold Panas book – such as Asking and The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Boards – there are plenty of “can-do” examples, inspiring stories of real-life fundraisers, and a bevy of field-tested approaches for raising major gifts.
Language students know that the quickest and most efficient way to learn another tongue is to plop yourself in a foreign country. Panas does the same thing for you in The Fundraiser’s Measuring Stick. If you want to know what really works in fundraising, let Panas immerse you totally in that fascinating, and intriguing world.
About the Author
A fundraiser for more than four decades, Jerold Panas is the executive director of Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners, which has more than 60 staff and has served over 3,500 organizations since its founding in 1968. During his career, he personally has helped raise an estimated $11 billion for a wide variety of charitable organizations, including many around the world.
Panas is widely regarded as the foremost author on fundraising, having written or co-written 19 books on the subject, as well as countless articles for magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the world. His book, Asking, is the bestselling fundraising book of all time. Others such as Mega Gifts, The Fundraising Habits of Supremely Successful Board, and Making a Case Your Donors Will Love are classics and standards for the profession.
Recently, Panas was recipient of the prestigious Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
Table of Contents
1. The Great Ones
2. A Love Affair
3. Resolve Melts Constraints
5. Selling the Dream
6. The Itch to Win
7. The Magic of Courage
8. Outsized Optimism
9. A Flair for Leadership
10. Wondrous Possibilities
11. Action Above All
12. Doing Whatever It Takes
13. Ignited with Energy
14. Unfailing Memory
15. Steadfast Commitment
16. High Touch, Low Tech
17. First Taste of Victory
18. Soaring Spiritual Values
20. Breaking the Rules
21. Give and Feel the Glow
22. The Itch for Action
24. Luck Follows Tenacity
25. The Perils of Mediocrity
26. The Devil’s in the Details
27. Amazing What You Don’t Get
28. Listen the Gift
29. It’s Everything
The Great Ones
I’ve never really kept track.
In my years of consulting, I suppose I’ve worked with thirty thousand fundraisers, both volunteer and professional. Perhaps as many as fifty thousand.
They come in all sizes and shapes and ethnic backgrounds. Tall, short. Heavy, thin. I’ve seen it all.
I want to describe for you two I’ve worked with who are utterly different in style and approach. Each was powerfully effective.
When Golda Meir was prime minister of Israel, she sent a young fundraiser to the United States to raise money for Israel and Jewish causes. His name was Aryeh Nesher.
For two decades, Nesher raised funds and trained hundreds of leaders of Jewish Federations in the art of raising money. His art. His method. In Jewish circles, the name Aryeh Nesher is legendary.
Nesher’s type of fundraising was rough and tumble, in your face, laced with unforgiving guilt. When someone said, “I’ll need time to think it over,” his response would strip bark from a tree. I came to know him when he was a volunteer no longer on Israel’s payroll.
I was once with a wealthy Jewish leader who said, “Nesher was the only guy I ever threw out of my office. But first, he got the gift.”
Now let me describe a total opposite.
Dr. Vartan Gregorian is now president of the Carnegie Corporation. When I first met him, he was president of the New York Public Library. When Vartan assumed the helm of the library, it was moribund. To save money, the storied institution was closed two days a week and in the evenings.
“What Vart did,” the chairman of the library board told me, “was comparable to turning the Queen Mary around in a bathtub.”
One day I’m sitting with Vartan in his office. We’re talking about the extraordinary success he’s had in securing funds. He raised hundreds of millions of dollars in a very short time.
I tell him he saved the library and that everyone talks about his amazing prowess in raising money. “The truth is,” Vartan says, “I never ask for money. I can’t remember that I’ve ever asked for a gift.”
“I simply talk with people,” he continues. “I tell them what we have is an extraordinary cathedral of scholarship and culture. It’s unequaled anywhere in the world. Filled with treasures and one-of-a-kinds.
“I create the dream and the inspiration. When I finish, I never have to ask. They offer me money. ‘How much would you like?’ they ask.”
Here’s proof that Vartan isn’t kidding.
We go from his office to lunch at his favorite Armenian restaurant. We’re sitting by a window looking out on Third Avenue.
A woman walking down the street peers in and spots him. She comes rushing inside.
“Dr. Gregorian, I haven’t seen you for ages,” she says, excusing herself for interrupting. “Please come see me. I want to give you some money.” They hug. She leaves.
“See what I mean?” he says to me.
The great fundraisers I’ve met all share certain qualities. That includes Nesher and Gregorian, who are poles apart in their styles and approaches.
In the following pages, I’m going to share with you the roster of attributes, talents, and skills that allow the great fundraisers, volunteer or staff, to stand head and shoulders over all the others.