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Turning Memories into Legacy

July 25, 2017

By Mike Bussey One weekend nearly a decade ago, my wife and I drove 650 miles to a camp in Northern Minnesota to have dinner with our youngest son. John was a camp counselor retuning to camp after leading a group of five young men on a 40-day canoe trip to Arctic Ocean. Camp tradition […]

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Rebooting Endowment Development

May 25, 2017

By Mike Bussey At a recent conference, several sessions and related discussions focused on ways to revitalize, reimagine and recharge stagnant endowment development programs. And for good reason! Although many nonprofits report having endowment funds, that percentage is declining and very few have on-going programs that effectively inform and invite the organization’s best friends to […]

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Just Do It

January 9, 2017

By Mike Bussey This month, the Donor By Design Group is challenging you to take action, moving from resolutions to results. Today’s topic? Stop thinking about endowment and just do it!     In a recent conversation about both proposed capital and endowment programs, a longtime church member noted that many factors go into determining whether or […]

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Where There’s a Will…

September 22, 2016

By Mike Bussey It’s now been five months since Prince passed away at his home in the Twin Cities. The local, national and international response to his passing has transitioned from expressions of loss and grief to controversies and court ruling about the disposition of his estate. Prince’s estate is thought to be valued at […]

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The Long Haul

August 2, 2016

By Thom Peters “Animation is like telling a joke and waiting three years to see if anyone laughs.” – Ed Catmull, Pixar Studios I heard Ed Catmull share this in an interview about the making of Toy Story. His point was that working on the film required a great vision, patience, and the confidence to […]

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Three Lessons from the Death of an Icon

May 11, 2016

By Lora Dow I was as shocked as anyone at the death of Prince, and deeply saddened at the news that he may have died without a will. The fact that his estate will now become part of the public record – and that any potential fight over it will be national news – is […]

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Waiting on Lightning

April 25, 2016

By Lora Dow We’ve all heard the stories. A nonprofit executive is surprised by a windfall gift – a generous check from a donor, either living or deceased, that comes as a complete surprise. It is easy to tell the story as if that gift is like a lightning strike from out of the blue. […]

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Who Are Your Best Friends?

March 24, 2016

By Mike Bussey Thank you for asking, but we’ve already made an endowment commitment to your organization. If you’re visiting with your best endowment prospects, invitations to become members of your legacy society quite often produce this response. And it is gratifying to hear! The challenge is to identify your best endowment prospects – your […]

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Sowing Seeds, Part II

July 6, 2015

By Lora Dow Conversations around giving can feel tricky for anyone, but I find that the people who struggle with it most are church leaders. Many pastors and lay staff are reluctant to talk about money at all. Those that do tend to focus on immediate operational needs of the church or mission-based outreach. This […]

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Message in a Bottle

June 3, 2015

By Mike Bussey and Lora Dow Many nonprofit leaders want to begin an endowment development program, but are unsure of where to start. They don’t know who might be a good prospect in their community or among their past donors. How can you tell if someone has the resources and the desire to leave a […]

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The Best Storytellers Aren’t Born, They’re Made

March 23, 2015

By Danny Maier This blog recently appeared on the NAYDO (North American YMCA Development Organization) website. We thought you’d enjoy it too, if you’re a Y or any other nonprofit, school or church. Think about great storytellers… from comedians like Will Rogers or Robin Williams, to politicians like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.* They just […]

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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 […]

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5 Myths About Endowment

March 3, 2015

By Mike Bussey and Lora Dow Recently, we were asked to share a presentation on endowment for NAYDO – the North American YMCA Development Organization. We published this blog on their site as a companion to that presentation, and are sharing it here with our readers. Even if you’re not a YMCA, we think you might […]

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Sowing Seeds

February 18, 2015

By Lora Dow Recently I had lunch with a church pastor. His church has an endowment fund from the sale of property, but it hasn’t grown much since then. Like many congregations, his church could benefit from the income a stronger endowment could provide. To that end, church leaders have worked to clear up the […]

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The First Step

December 18, 2014

By Mike Bussey It’s nearing the end of the year and something is unfinished on your to-do list. It’s something you’ve been thinking about all year, perhaps even for the past several years, and yet you haven’t quite gotten to it. The urgency of operations, annual fundraising, to say nothing of that upcoming capital campaign […]

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DBD AXIOMS: Interest and Capacity

October 23, 2014

By Bruce Berglund At Donor By Design, we are guided by a series of axioms: Core concepts that shape our work and have proven their worth over and over again. In this new series, we’ll dig into these axioms and clarify how they can help you achieve your development goals. For years I have started […]

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Room for Hope: A Case Study

September 13, 2014

By the Donor By Design Team Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services Inc. (Oshkosh, WI) provides a variety of services to help the victims of domestic violence and to prevent violence before it starts. As the demand for their shelter services grew, they knew they needed to expand and remodel the 1908 Victorian mansion that is […]

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Don’t Neglect Your Family

July 8, 2014

By Lora Dow Part of any fundraising campaign involves the solicitation of gifts from board and staff. Sometimes we call this the “family campaign.” It often comes at the beginning of an annual effort or during the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign. While it’s something we always do, I’d challenge you to consider how […]

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Uncomplicated Problems

June 19, 2014

By Mike Bussey I was hesitant to start reading Michael Oren’s book, Power, Faith and Fantasy: American in the Middle East from 1776 to the Present, thinking that it may be years before I finished. It’s more than 600 pages long! However, having traveled and worked in the Middle East for nearly 40 years, the […]

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Suprise Parties vs Celebrations

May 8, 2014

By Mike Bussey and Lora Dow At a recent conference, we had the privilege of presenting the advanced session on endowment development. The session was for staff and volunteers with 15+ years of financial development experience and for those who knew the basics of endowment development. In preparation for the session, we reviewed endowment statistics […]

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Resolutions: Taking the First Step

January 29, 2014

By Mike Bussey I was delighted to receive calls from two nonprofit executives during the final days of 2013. Both calls were to pass along some great news regarding year-end endowment commitments. As I rejoiced with them, a Chinese proverb that came to mind: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ […]

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Resolutions Part I: The 20 Mile March

January 2, 2014

By Bruce Berglund Happy New Year! This is the time of year so many of us make resolutions for the upcoming year — some of them we even keep!  Last year at this time, I decided to stop drinking any kind of soda. I had become convinced I didn’t need the diet or the sugary […]

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