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At the End of Your Rope

October 11, 2017

By Jon Simons As a consulting firm focused on fund development, we field calls daily from organizations seeking advice and counsel on how to raise money for lots of reasons: annual sustaining, endowment, disaster relief, education and awareness, and of course capital campaigns. These days if feels like there are only two types on non-profits: […]

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Seeing Yourself in the Story

June 15, 2017

By Jon Simons and Lora Dow This summer, the Donor By Design Team is considering new ways grow the relationship with our donors… moving beyond the thank you note to a deeper connection. Today’s topic: how do you help a donor see themselves in the story?    “You won’t truly connect with someone until you see yourself […]

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The Pursuit of Perfection

February 23, 2017

By Jon Simons One of the most dangerous words in the English language is the word “perfect.” While the concept feels good and worthy of pursuit, it is – in the end – a fool’s errand. I can only imagine the number of unfulfilled goals and dreams that die on the unreachable alter of perfection. […]

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Gift-Wrapped

January 3, 2017

By Jon Simons This month, the Donor By Design Group is challenging you to take action, moving from resolutions to results. Today’s topic? Unwrapping the gifts your volunteers bring.  For our family, the month of December is filled with holiday decorations, family gatherings and an ever-growing accumulation of gifts lovingly wrapped and place beneath the […]

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Drop the Mask

October 24, 2016

By Jon Simons This October, the Donor By Design team is tackling spooky situations in development. Join us this month for hair-raising stories and cautionary tales of frightful fundraising!   Long before the recent rash of scary clown sightings, I have found masks of any kind to be unsettling. Be it a circus, holiday parade or […]

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The Kind Truth

August 8, 2016

By Jon Simons In this series, the DBD Team is taking a deeper look at some of the axioms we use when working with clients. In today’s blog, Jon Simons explores our axiom “Always tell the kind truth.” To read other axiom blogs, click here.  Today it is easier than ever to “give feedback.” Social […]

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Shed a Little Light

February 11, 2016

By Jon Simons As a cyclist, I have never really looked forward to the winter months. I’m fine with riding in cold weather (it’s all about the layers), but the real challenge comes from the shorter hours of daylight. Night riding on the roads of New Jersey is unsafe and unnerving to say the least! […]

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Resolution: Unplug and Get Connected

January 14, 2016

A few summers back while on vacation with friends I learned a great lesson. Well…two actually. The first was that cell phones and salt water don’t mix (and that phone insurance is a good thing). The second lesson came a few days later, about 48 hours after the phone-meets-ocean thing. I learned that once I […]

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Thanks but No Thanks

December 10, 2015

By Jon Simons and Lora Dow If you have been in fund development long enough, you may have found yourself in this situation: Early in the cultivation process for a capital gift, we joined a volunteer and prospective donor for a vision tour of a soon-to-be-renovated facility. While touring, the volunteer did a wonderful job of […]

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Einstein, Ping Pong and Grandma’s Basement

September 10, 2015

By Jon Simons Great communicators treat storytelling as an art. They know it’s among the most effective ways to make a point, set a tone and connect with an audience of any size. Stories bring organizational mission to life, give a face to a case and leave long-lasting impressions. As fundraisers, we are eager to […]

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What’s Your Story?

July 14, 2015

By Jon Simons Listening to author Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” I was reminded of a trap that I often fall into while researching donor prospects. Through web searches, wealth screenings and giving histories, I begin to develop a profile that guides my assumptions, strategies and engagement plans. From […]

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8 Items or Less

April 14, 2015

By Jon Simons My story always seems to end the same way. I head out to the super market for a “few things” and can come home burdened with grocery bags filled with cravings, bargains, two for ones, must haves and more. I never mean to do it.  I always start with a basket rather […]

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The Value of Stewardship

March 19, 2015

By Jon Simons Upon learning about an amazing $40,000,000 estate gift made to the Westport Weston Family YMCA in Connecticut, another non-profit leader commented to me on how lucky they were to receive such a transformational donation. Having had the honor of working with the staff and volunteers of the Westport Weston Family Y for the […]

Posted in: Blog, Capital, Endowment, Stewardship
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The Kind Truth

January 26, 2015

By Jon Simons At Donor By Design, one of our core beliefs is to always to tell the kind truth. We serve our clients best when we’re honest with each other about what’s working and what’s not. The importance of an outside perspective was vividly illustrated for me on a recent drive. I pulled along […]

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Your ACE in the Hole

December 10, 2014

By Jon Simons It seems every development conversation I have with a Camp Executive Director eventually moves towards alumni engagement… or the serious lack thereof. On paper, it makes total sense: Summer camp alum should be the perfect people to enthusiastically “give back” to support camp scholarships and improvements. Who better than those who have experienced […]

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Prudent Pruning

June 17, 2014

A recent stroll through my garden reminded me of a lesson from Dr. Henry Cloud in his book, “Necessary Endings.“  In it, Dr. Cloud offers a great analogy related to the need for pruning to stimulate healthy growth. Be it personal, professional, individual or organizational, we all need to be good stewards and tend to […]

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