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9 Proven and Time-Tested Guiding Principles of Fundraising

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Sometimes a few key nuggets of fundraising wisdom are timeless. This is especially true when they come from a true change agent like my good friend Tom Suddes.

Notre DameTom was a major gift fundraiser for Notre Dame University who learned his craft well. Success has always been part of his equation. Perhaps what I respect and appreciate most about Tom is his willingness to share his insights and guidelines with smaller nonprofit organizations and with newcomers to this wonderful profession. What draws me to his methods is how entrepreneurial in nature they are.

I notice so many fundraisers creating and living within artificial boundaries. What I am referring to is not thinking in a more grand or expansive style. So often, they cannot see that a few special relationships being nurtured on a personal level could lead to large major gifts and/or bequests that could totally fund their mission for years. Please notice how Tom implores those who study his guiding principles of fundraising to open their perspectives to such grandness.

Without further ado, please enjoy these tidbits drawn from a marvelous career in our beloved sector:

  1. Start With the Why. (Altitude/Top-Down Thinking and Selling.)
  2. You Become What You Think About. (Earl’s Strangest Secret … That’s Not A Secret.)
  3. Change Your Vocabulary. (Change the Way You Talk Changes the Way You Think and Act.)
  4. Think Big. Build Simple. Act Now. (THE Entrepreneur’s Mantra.)
  5. Do The Math. (Know the Math. Own the Math.)
  6. Change the Rules. (Transformational Impact Doesn’t Come from Playing by Current Rules.)
  7. Drive the Bus. (You Drive Who’s On Your Bus, Off the Bus and in the Right Seats.)
  8. Commit to Sales. (You’re In Sales. Get Over It.)
  9. Just Ask. Just Ask. Just Ask. (It’s That Simple. Just Ask.)

Keep these handy to read again and again if they hit home with you. You can learn more about Tom, his work and writing here.

May the balance of the year be filled with numerous major gifts for you and your organization!

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