Top of Mind

May 4, 2017

By Sara Luke During the 18-24 months (or more) of a capital campaign, nonprofit leaders often eat, sleep and breathe the campaign. They know the total raised, status of the design plans, which donor meetings went well and who they need to call to cultivate further. The pressure and excitement of the capital plans are […]

Posted in: Blog, Capital


Don’t Scare Them

October 6, 2016

By Sara Luke 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! A key to fundraising success is an urgent and compelling case for support. Nonprofits should not only be able to answer the question “why?” but also “why […]

Posted in: Blog, Case for Support


Why Trumps What

June 28, 2016

By Sara Luke In this series, the DBD Team will take a deeper look at some of the axioms we use when working with our clients. In today’s blog, Sara Luke reflects on our axiom: “Why Trumps What.” There’s a great Ted talk that illustrates a concept we talk about a lot with our non-profit […]

Posted in: Blog, Case for Support


Own it

May 17, 2016

By Sara Luke “The dog ate my homework.” “My alarm didn’t go off.” “I hit every red light on the way here.” Excuses. We’ve all made them. But the truth is no one believes them and they don’t help accomplish anything. In fact, they can chip away at one’s credibility. One of the quotes that […]

Posted in: Blog, Leadership


The Value of Time

October 8, 2015

I recently spent some time with a non-profit CEO who spoke about the importance of volunteers to an organization. He said that of all the things someone can give you — time, talent or treasure — time is the one thing that cannot be replenished. One can make more money. Talent doesn’t wear out. But […]

Posted in: Blog, Leadership


Rethinking Competition

July 22, 2015

By Sara Luke Recently, I was speaking with a new client about their case for support. One of their primary concerns was how to distinguish their organization’s work with seniors from “the competition.” They identified their competition as other local retirement and assisted living facilities. As an outsider, it was clear for me to see […]

Posted in: Blog, Case for Support


Building a Shared Vision

November 17, 2014

By Mike Bussey and Sara Luke Currently at more than $5 million on their original $4.3 million capital goal, Betsy and Kristi aren’t done yet. The Executive Directors at the Itasca County Family YMCA and ElderCircle respectively are building the shared vision that started more than four years ago. In 2010, the Itasca County Family […]

Posted in: Blog, Capital, Leadership


It’s Not About the Balloons

July 29, 2014

By Sara Luke From large-scale galas to business breakfasts, special events are likely part of your fundraising and communications arsenal. Without a strategy, the management of endless details and well-intentioned great ideas can create a muddled, messy and not-so-special event. As you gather the team and begin the planning, make this your first step and […]

Posted in: Blog


A Face to the Case

March 25, 2014

By Sara Luke “Nobody really goes hungry in America.” “People should just get a job. Then they could feed their family.” And the misconceptions about hunger go on and on. Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force has been feeding the hungry – and fighting future hunger – since 1974. They attack the issue of hunger on two […]

Posted in: Blog, Case for Support


Sara Luke

January 21, 2014

Vice President Sara comes to Donor By Design fueled by an enthusiasm for helping organizations craft and present the right message to help further their mission.  Coupled with her passion for non-profits and the life-changing work they do each day, Sara is eager to find creative and effective solutions to marketing/communication challenges. Sara can help […]

Posted in: People


It’s the Little Things

November 14, 2013

By Sara Luke During a recent lesson with my 2 & 3-year-old Sunday School class we talked about saying “thank you” to Jesus. We covered the obvious ones: mommy and daddy; being healthy; yummy food that helps us grow; a house to keep us warm; friends; dogs and cats; candy. Then a couple little girls […]

Posted in: Blog, Leadership, Stewardship


Worth a Thousand Words

October 24, 2013

By Sara Luke In our work developing communication strategies, we think a lot about words. We’re constantly trying to wring the most emotion, information and energy out of the fewest words possible. We have to present compelling data (that isn’t boring), amazing stories (that are still relatable) and persuasive appeals (that don’t go too far). […]

Posted in: Blog, Case for Support


Love in the Workplace

September 17, 2013

By Sara Luke Many of us have written about the speakers and inspiration from our annual DBD team gathering at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This being my second year in attendance, I was looking forward to the show (and they know how to produce a show!), the music, the prayerful reflections, and of […]

Posted in: Blog, Leadership


Face Your Fears

May 9, 2013

By Sara Luke “I don’t want to be in the recital. I’m too nervous.” When I heard my four-year-old daughter squeak those words, I knew she HAD to be in the recital. She loves to dance and enjoys her tap/ballet class, but she’s also quite shy and worries way too deeply for her age. I […]

Posted in: Blog


Reinforce. Repurpose. Repeat. And Keep it Simple.

January 31, 2013

By Sara Luke Marketing theory tells us it takes 5, 7, up to 12 or more impressions for your message to be remembered and acted upon. Of course it depends on how strong the impression, how frequent, what medium, etc., but the bottom line: once is not enough. In the latest Social Good podcast from […]

Posted in: Blog


From the heart.

November 15, 2012

By Sara Luke Like many non-profit organizations, our church is in the midst of our year-end stewardship appeal. A couple weeks ago I was asked by our pastor to share with the congregation one reason the church is important to me and my family. “Keep it short and upbeat and end with a request and […]

Posted in: Annual, Blog, Leadership, Stewardship