Think Big—Or Die, That is NOT a Lie!

The campaign season is in full swing.  That means you are going to begin (if you haven’t already) to hear a lot of lies coming out of candidates’ mouths.

But, I will tell you one thing that is not a lie. If you and your non-profit don’t start to think big, you will eventually die.

No question.  I see it all the time.  A non-profit spends so much time focused on and delivering their programs that they forget how to pay for them.

And that is why they will die.

Some non-profits are so afraid to invest in fundraising that they won’t let their fundraising ratios to get too high.

They will die.

Some non-profits have such an altruistic culture, thinking that any penny they spend on fundraising won’t go to the field, so they refuse to spend money on sufficient development staff.

They will die.

Some non-profit executives are just afraid to do anything differently.

They will die.

I want to tell you something…YOU have to think BIG!  If you believe your mission is worthy of support and that it’s doing a greater good for society, you have to think BIG.

What does thinking Big mean?  Are you ready for this?

Thinking Big means:

  1. Investing in new donor acquisition—all kinds of new donors, through mail, on-line, events, house parties, board contacts…whatever it takes to have this become a priority.  Acquiring donors is THE major driver for filling the major gift pipeline.
  2. Taking risks—test new ideas, ask people for money who you have never asked before, create programs that donors will fund.
  3. Hire support staff—There are so many fundraisers who are tied to their chairs because someone said they have to do all this paperwork and detail stuff.  How short-sighted not to hire folks so these fundraisers can get out and talk to donors!
  4. Invest in a major gift program—The greatest leverage and return on your investment already lies within your donor file.  The problem is that many non-profits have neglected their major donors and potential major donors for years.

I can hear some of you saying, “Well, isn’t that a little self-serving, Jeff?  I mean, Veritus Group is a major gift fundraising agency that charges non-profits to build major gift programs.  Of course you’re going to say that.”

You know, you’re right, it might be a little self-serving.  But I really don’t care, because the truth is, whether you hire an agency like Veritus Group, create your own in-house staff, hire more MGO’s or hire another outside consultant, we have seen over and over again the huge payoff there is in taking this step.

In fact, Richard and I have never seen a client fail when they invest properly in their development program, specifically in major gifts.


Richard and I can offer example after example of non-profits who were bold and decided to “spend the money” to build their programs and it’s paid off over time with ROI’s of over 10-15 to 1.

However, we have talked with dozens of non-profits, even completed audits for many  who, for one reason or the another, were afraid to think big.

They are suffering.  And eventually, they will die a slow death.

It’s like you just want to shake these people and say, “Can’t you see this?”

I’m telling you I’m getting worked up just sitting at my desk writing this.  Why?  Because I see so many non-profits who are short-sighted and down right bull-headed about not investing more in their program.  And in the long-run it’s the mission, the programs and all those donors who will suffer for it.

That’s right, even donors suffer, because they never will have gotten the chance to help you change the world.  Why?  Because no one was there to ask them!  Why?  Because you were afraid to invest in your fundraising program.

Don’t let this happen to you and your non-profit.

Be Bold!  Invest in your program.  Think Big!  You will make a difference.





About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Donor-Centered, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Mission, Non-Profits and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Think Big—Or Die, That is NOT a Lie!

  1. Amen Jeff! So many nonprofits have been stultified by the charity watchdogs, ranking groups, and media that claim any funds spent outside of “program” is tantamount to mismanagement, malfeasance, or sacrilege. There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the US today. The successful ones are making appropriate investments in professional fundraising staff and initiatives that help build their donor pipelines. If a charity thinks that their cause is so worthy they will “simply be found” by donors who want to support them, they are delusional. And as you state, they will die. That mode of thought is almost as dangerous as the one that believes “If we leave our donors alone, they will love us more”. They will love and support the charity that has communicated with them and made a compelling case. That will necessitate committing to the “thinking big” action items you have enumerated.

  2. Pingback: 3 Thought Provoking Non-Profit Resources

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