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Jeff Jowdy

Bedrocks & Beacons

By Jeff Jowdy

About Jeff

Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.

Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.

Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the FundRaising Success Editorial Advisory Board.

 

Pay It Forward

F. Duke Haddad
Nonprofit Leadership: Succession Planning Is a Must
Feb 27, 2015

If you ask most senior-level nonprofit professionals they would admit succession planning doesn't exist or the plan sits and gathers...



Peeling the Onion

Katrina VanHuss
I Am a Paid Volunteer Fundraiser
Feb 27, 2015

"We pay volunteers to fundraise." Even as I write this sentence I realize that the words themselves sound ludicrous. And...



Get What You Give

Joe Boland
Washington Nonprofit Conference Keynote: 'Will the Mail Be There in the Future?'
Feb 26, 2015

Robert Taub, acting chairman of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, summed up the state of the USPS in 2015 during...



It's Your Turn

Larry C Johnson
Danger: Icky Money Ahead! — When Nonprofit Leaders Won't Ask Volunteers
Feb 26, 2015

Volunteers want you to succeed. These true believers will be more than happy to provide financial resources if you ask...



Old Dog Fundraising

Pamela Barden
6 Habits of Fundraising Excellence
Feb 26, 2015

Knowledge matters in fundraising, but that's not all. What each of us brings to the job matters, and I am...



Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising

Gail Perry
The Fastest Way to Turn Off Your Major Donor Prospect
Feb 25, 2015

There is one important thing you can do to ruin your chances with a major donor. It's when you are...



ProSpeak

Who's Up Next?
A Much Better Way to Make Money Than Fundraising
Feb 24, 2015

The opinions, thoughts and feelings of our prospects, supporters and donors exist whether we seek them or not; 100 percent...



Connections

Jeff Schreifels
Major Gifts Fundraising: You Need a Friend
Feb 23, 2015

As a major gifts fundraising professional, you need people in your life to help guide you personally and professionally. I'm...



Outside Counsel

Willis Turner
Learn This 1 Skill and Improve Your Fundraising Results
Feb 23, 2015

I'm a firm believer that empathy has the potential to solve more problems than war and peace put together. From...



Navigating Off the Napkin

Angie Moore
Navigating Off the Napkin: 75 Nonprofit Fundraising Posts Later, Part 2
Feb 17, 2015

Two years ago I decided to launch my blog. I never promised it would be pretty, but I did promise...



Hump Day Hullabaloo

Jo Sullivan
Hump Day Hullaballoo: Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway
May 22, 2013

This week, as I transition into my new position as interim executive director at Save the Chimps, we're talking about...



Get Engaged

Margaret Battistelli
What's Cooking in 2015?
Jan 7, 2015

Here's your chance to chime in and help us paint a picture of trends and best practices across all aspects...



Donor Trippin'

Nick Allen
Is There an App for Us?
Jul 1, 2014

Got an idea for an app that could connect a charity or nonprofit with its supporters and beneficiaries in an...



Raising the Possibilities

Thaddeus B. Kubis
Recurring Themes: The Case for Integrated Marketing Communications, Part 2
Dec 27, 2013

Recent discussions focus on a myriad of topics, but in the past two months, the recurring targeted topics seem to...



A Tale of 2 Studies

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Eighteen months ago we conducted feasibility studies at the same time for two different clients. Both were first-timers in conducting a study — an essential step toward launching a successful major campaign.  

Conducted properly, a study gives you valuable insight on current potential goals as well as what resonates with donors. If you're serious about fulfilling your mission and achieving your potential, then a study can provide a veritable gold mine, revealing what key leaders and prospective donors know about you — and what they don't. It is important to know how your image, mission, strengths, weaknesses, leadership (staff and board), programs and the projects you are considering are perceived. A study also provides insight on a potential campaign by posing questions that make you stronger in the long run.

By understanding your strengths, you can build on them. And by knowing your weaknesses, you can address them before asking for money. You'll face these same questions in a campaign, so addressing them in advance allows for greater success in less time than during an actual campaign.   

It's like a market study for fundraising. When promised confidentiality in a climate of trust, I am forever amazed at what people will share — good and bad —about an organization and their interest in supporting it.

A study is a major investment in resources — both fees and time — for an organization. And it's a good test of an organization's capacity for implementing a campaign on several levels.  

Let's go back to our tale of two studies. We presented our findings at about the same time to both clients. We found that neither client was ready to embark on a campaign right away. To one client — I'll call them Client A — we recommended a one-year cultivation period. Client B received a recommendation of a four-month cultivation period while addressing some significant organizational issues (staff capacity, branding and succession planning).

Client A embraced the concept of deepening donor relationships and truly being prepared for a campaign. It committed the resources necessary to engage in a national plan of cultivation of prospective major donors and campaign leadership. Today, Client A is still in the earliest phase of the campaign with more than half of its initial goal committed. Soon it'll be discussing potentially raising the goal!

On the other hand, Client B has found a location for a new facility but otherwise has not prepared for a major fundraising endeavor. Without following any recommendations, it now wishes to embark on a campaign with a goal that is double the potential we found in the study. We wish Client B well but too many times have seen campaigns falter because of organizations not taking the right — sometimes bold — steps to prepare for campaign success.   

The key to that success is relationships, and relationships take time to develop. Campaigns are about vision, leadership, momentum and urgency. They are also about plans and execution. One stage lays the foundation for the next.

If you're looking at a major campaign, don't embark on it without the benefit of a study. There are many good firms that can help you. And when you embark on a study, carefully consider the findings and recommendations. In doing so, you heed the counsel of some of your brightest, most loyal friends and prospective major donors.
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