Donovan's Donor Diary

If you are trying to raise money for your favorite charity/cause, Donovan's Donor Diary provides you with facts, tips and best practices on how to raise millions of dollars for people, pets and the planet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Have Moved Our Blog

With the recent "face-lift" of our web site, we have moved all our blog listings to: . Please visit our web site and you will see a listing of our recent blogs on the right side of the page in a turquoise box.

Thank you for visiting. We appreciate your interest.

All the best for success,


Saturday, August 08, 2009

What Can We Learn from Three Accomplished Leaders

Nonprofit organizations that serve those most affected by the recession have seen giving shift to them. Many others have seen a decline in giving and are struggling. With less than five months to go in 2009, now is a good time to ponder some basic and strategic questions about your organization and to hone your management, fundraising and communication skills.

In this Blog, some tips on how to do just that from three accomplished American leaders:

Peter F. Drucker, Management Author and Consultant to the Fortune 500

Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, Pioneer of United Jewish Appeal

James A. Baker III, Former Secretary of State and Advisor to three U.S. Presidents

In 1972 I started my career at the United Way of Utica, New York. The first week on the job I read The Effective Executive by Drucker. It's a classic. Drucker offers this sage advice, "It's not important to get things done. It's important to get the right things done."

Today with Email consuming most of us, Drucker's advice is more relevant than ever. I have followed Drucker's advice over the years by starting my day with a long "to do" list. Then I ask myself, 'What are the right things I must get done today?' By addressing strategic tasks, the smaller ones get done as well and in less time.

Fast forward to 2009 and the latest Drucker book, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization. In it the late Drucker, with other authors, offers five strategic organizational questions that could set a new post recession direction for your organization.

What is our mission?

Who is our customer?

What does the customer value?

What are our results?

What is our plan?

As we pull out of the recession, maybe your board should ponder each question to better position it as we head, in less than five months, into 2010.

Rabbi Friedman, author of Roots of the Future, tells his life story as a rabbi in World War II, rescuing Jews from Hitler's death camps and then transitioning into fundraising for displaced Jews throughout Europe and finally his role in creating the United Jewish Appeal in America. In the chapter How To Raise Billions, he lists the "five significant assets in the fundraiser's arsenal":

Knowledge of the cause he/she is representing

A passionate belief in that cause

Strong self-confidence that produces clear articulation

An easy manner

An ability to rebound from rejection

When asked the secret of his success in raising billions throughout his career, Rabbi Friedman writes:

"Raising people (first). People raise money and if you develop a cadre of workers, knowledgeable about and dedicated to the cause they espouse, they will do the job successfully."

James A. Baker III was given advice by his grandfather early in life --Work Hard, Study and Keep Out of Politics. That is the title of Baker's recent book which he subtitled, Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life. Obviously he didn't heed grandpa's advice.

Baker went on to serve three U.S. Presidents -- Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan -- in capacities ranging from Campaign Manager to Chief of Staff to Secretary of State and Treasury. A lawyer by training, he notes early in his life his father also gave him some advice, which he did listen to. It was the Five P's:

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

As you read about the complex issues Baker had to work through in his various roles he keeps coming back to the challenge of preparation. He clearly makes the case for doing your homework. He was especially disciplined when it came to communicating the case for whatever issue or legislation was being debated before Congress and in the media.

In the early 90's I recall being told by a client just how good Baker was at stating a case. Prior to becoming a fundraiser, my client spent many years as a local television anchor. One day at lunch he said to me, "Did you see Jim Baker on Meet the Press Sunday?" I told him I had not.

My client said -- "I was in television news for over twenty-five years and I have never seen anyone more prepared, articulate and precise in making his case." We can all learn from that, especially when it comes to making and stating the case for fundraising. Today is the age of the 30, 90 and 120 second sound bite. You have to get the public's attention and keep it. There isn't a lot of time for rambling or generalities.

As we head into the best time of the year to raise money, take time to improve your professional and organizational performance by heeding the wise counsel of these three accomplished leaders in management, fund raising and communication.

Ask the right questions so you focus on the right tasks.

Raise people first. Money second.

Prepare before making the case for your organization. Then state your case in 90 seconds or less.

Please let me hear from you. If you have a question or need assistance with an issue facing your organization, feel free to contact me at no obligation. By the way, check out our new and improved website:

All the best for continued success.

Jim Donovan, President & CEO, Donovan Management, Inc.