Skip to main content

Steier Tips

After nearly a quarter century of helping nonprofits plan, reach and exceed their fundraising goals, we’ve accomplished a lot – and learned a thing or two. Our Steier Tips page features the latest Steier Group fundraising advice from our team of experts, case studies and helpful insight to consider as you plan your next campaign.

Engage donors by telling your organization’s story

By Steier Tips

Dr. Seuss could tell a story. So can Stephen King. For me, Harper Lee remains at the top of my list of storytellers. I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” while in junior high school, and the story she told about racism still resonates more than 35 years later. Sharing a story can send a powerful message. Stories put social issues in perspective and give readers a call to action. Stories about overcoming tragedy inspire us. Some stories even make us laugh. Religious and other nonprofit organizations have strong stories to tell. They resonate because, most often, these stories are about…

Read More

Plan for the unplanned when creating a capital campaign strategy

By Steier Tips

The whistle blows and it’s halftime. The sideline reporter asks the coach headed to the locker room, “What adjustments do you need to make in the second half?” This same question applies when evaluating the progress of your capital campaign. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances can mean the difference between falling short or getting past the goal line. A CUSTOMIZED GAME PLAN There are foundational strategies that must be included in any game plan. Those include a well-thought-out case for support, a strong leadership team, an inside-out fundraising strategy and communications targeting your key audiences. HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS “However…

Read More

Tiered capital campaign goals lead to success

By Steier Tips

Everyone wants to associate with a winner. Whether rooting for a championship sports team or working on a successful capital campaign, people want to invest time and energy and make sacrifices for a champion. To ensure your organization is primed for success, make sure to conduct a campaign planning study prior to conducting a major fundraising effort. This allows your organization to set attainable capital campaign goals and come out a winner. But what happens when organizations are faced with projections that won’t allow them to meet all their needs? The key to success is setting a series of tiered…

Read More

An appointed time for everything: Engaging the liturgical year in capital campaign fundraising

By Steier Tips

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) We all operate under the cyclic rhythm and pace of seasons and events important to us and our organizations. Just as our annual calendar moves through the four seasons, so too we live by other markers of time: academic calendars, fiscal calendars, tax season and more. The many Catholic clients we serve live by the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent and Easter. In addition, our communities celebrate special events yearly, from remembering the anniversary of a founding or…

Read More

The top five fears of development directors

By Steier Tips

Launching a campaign can seem daunting. Through the years, we’ve faced plenty of challenges that have the potential to derail campaigns and haunt development directors. Here are some of the top fears of development directors and how to overcome each: A Bad Donor Database: You don’t want to go to a cupboard you think is stocked only to find nothing on the shelves. Donors come and go, so your database must be equally fluid. An outdated donor database wreaks havoc on a campaign. When there is no list of potential donors and no giving history, it makes accurate donor evaluation…

Read More

Giving is personal: Cookie-cutter approaches to fundraising don’t work

By Steier Tips

It typically starts something like this: Campaign leaders are talking strategy with their campaign manager about how to raise the necessary funds to meet their goal, when someone asks: “How many – take your pick: parishioners, members, donors – do we have?” Followed by: “How much money do we need to meet our goal?” Next comes a moment of silence as the person who started the conversation does some quick division. “That means if we asked everyone to give – fill in the amount – we would reach our goal.” If only it was that simple. For the past 19…

Read More

In-kind support is just one way to fundraise outside the box

By Steier Tips

Nonprofit organizations face the constant and ongoing challenge of raising dollars to fund their missions. Oftentimes, donors complain that they are approached too often or that nonprofits should look to other sources in order to obtain support. While those closest to your organization will always be the strongest givers, there may be other opportunities worth considering. LOCAL BUSINESSES AND VENDORS Most nonprofits have a list of vendors with whom they work on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Approaching those vendors for occasional support is another good way to help your nonprofit. Typically, if the vendor wants to maintain a…

Read More

Avoid losing touch with your donors by conducting a census

By Steier Tips

A common dilemma facing nonprofits prior to the start of a capital campaign or planning study is an out-of-date database. Despite the fact that the database is among an organization’s most valuable fundraising tools, it often goes neglected with thoughts of updating it ignored until a large stack of “return to sender” surveys or letters arrives in the mailbox. Such an approach can prove costly, not only in lost postage and materials, but more importantly, lost contact with a nonprofit’s most valuable resource, its donors. To avoid such a predicament, it is wise to take a periodic roll call of…

Read More

A different IRA conversation

By Steier Tips

Donors may be asking if the popular IRA Charitable Rollover will become available before the end of the year. The short answer? We don’t know. For the foreseeable future, this is a question your donors may have to ask on an annual basis, and you are wise to have an answer ready for them. Donors age 70½ and older will spend the next two months waiting to see if Congress will pass legislation allowing for outright gifts from their IRAs. And every day that passes is an opportunity to have a different kind of IRA conversation. While focusing on the…

Read More

Connect with your donors by sharing your organization’s story

By Steier Tips

I’ve always thought that a good story not shared is a missed opportunity to inform people about the good work your parish or organization does. I remember the wonderful stories about heroes that my parents told me as a child. I passed those stories on to my children – I hope they’ll do the same with theirs. Your organization – religious, community-based or social service – does good work. It helps people. That leaves you with stories to tell. I suggest you add sharing those stories to your year-end to-do list. Here are a few ways: Sharing stories about how…

Read More

Sign up for Steier Tips

Sign up for our monthly Steier Tips e-newsletter to receive articles and advice on how to improve your development office and run successful capital campaigns.