20 Plus 7 Things Community
Foundations Do That Drive Me Nuts!!!
Four Goals
• Have Fun Ranting on my Soap-Box
• Make Sure Everyone is
Disturbed/Uncomfortable At Least Once
• Make Sure You Never Hire Me for
Anything… Ever
• Give You at Least Three Practical Ideas
#1 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Constantly Hearing:
“We Are the Best Kept Secret in Town!”
CF Response:
1. Initiative Overkill: Don’t Understand Actions
Create Brands
2. Marketing Overkill: Deserves/Receives a Separate
1. Focus on Top 1/2 of 1% of Market… Period
#2 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Constantly Hearing:
“We Want More Discretionary Money”
CF Response:
1. Clever Ways of “Coaxing” Living Donors to Give
2. Of 500 Board Members: How Many Have Living
Discretionary Funds Over $25,000?
1. Most Discretionary Funds Come From Actuarily Attractive,
Wealthy, Childless Widows
2. Some Come From Converting Scholarship Interest Into
“Teachable Moments” – Be Opportunistic!
#3 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Marketing Overkill
CF Response:
1. “Fishing with a Net”
2. Busy is Not Productive
1. Stories, Stories and More Stories
2. Use National Marketing Action Team Materials –
Stop Customizing Everything!!!
#4 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Sales Underkill
CF Response:
1. Sell is Not a Four-Letter Word
2. CF Osmosis Does Not Work
1. Tell Them What You Want!
2. Focus on Ideal Donor: Strategically Align
3. Shift from Service Culture to Sales Culture
#5 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Disengaged and Complacent Board “Deadwood”
1. Set Expectations and Hold Them Accountable
2. Create Actions Any Board Member Can Select –
Hosting One “Widening the Circle” Prospect Event – 5 hours
Inviting an ideal prospect to lunch or to a prospect event – 1 hour
Setting up a targeted civic club or association speech – 1 hour
Co-presenting a talk about the Foundation – 1 hour
Introducing staff to each one of his/her professional advisors – 1 hour
Personal call to welcome new donors to CF – 3 calls for 1 hour
Ask for 3-5 Hours/Year for Development and Donor Services
Commit to 100% personal giving and/or planned gift for a fund or any
CF initiative.
#6 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
“Being All Things to All People”
CF Response:
1. CF Staff/Board Genetically Can’t Say No!
1. Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
2. Refer Out “Poor Fit” Cases: Agency Endowments,
Scholarships, Small Funds, Short-Term PassThrough Funds, Memorial Funds, Etc. - Choke
Them Off by Policy or Fee
3. Know Your Ideal Customer – If You Had to “Fire”
90% of Your Funds, Which 10% Would You Keep?”
#7 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Having No Strategic or Even Unstrategic Plan
CF Response:
1. Completely Reactive vs. Intentional
2. All Challenging Funds will Find You
3. If You Are On Your Heels, You Aren’t In Control
1. Have a Plan and Have the Discipline/Focus to
Unwaveringly Execute
#8 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Hiring Too Many Consultants and Going to Too Many
CF Response:
1. Copy Everything That Sounds Hot
2. Overly Compulsive Focus on Big Foundations
1. If You Copy an Approach, Customize for Your CF
2. Use Consultants Sparingly with a Targeted Agenda
Don’t Let Every Project Become Bigger Than it Needs
to Be
#9 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Making a Complicated Community Foundation
Structure Too Complicated
1. Think Baseball: Throw the Ball, Catch the Ball,
Hit the Ball – For CFs: Get the Money, Grow the
Money, Give the Money
2. Again, Tell Stories!
#10 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Community Foundations Don’t Play Well with Others
CF Response:
1. I am the King/Queen of My Sandbox
2. It is only a Best Practice if We Invent It
1. Know Other Funders and Their Priorities!
2. Know Other Service Providers and Their
3. You Don’t Have to Steal Best Practices from the
Field – You Can Just Ask and Say Thanks
#11 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Obsession with Acorns – Aversion to Oaks
CF Response:
1. Create Acorn Funds, Youth Advisory Councils,
Giving Circles, Successor Advisor Training, Etc.
1. In Point of Fact, Most Acorns Die
2. Focus on Oaks! Top 100 Families List
3. Coin Analogy: Quarters, Dimes, Nickels and Pennies
4. Incent Bigger Initial Funds and Fund Growth –
Language, Fees and Services
#12 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Obsession over Not Competing with Local Non-Profits:
You Are So Get Over It!
CF Response:
1. PR Campaign to Convince Others You Aren’t
2. Annual Operating, Membership, Sponsor Drives
Compete - Operational Sustainability is When You
1. Relax! Tell Stories about How CFs Benefit Donors
and the Community
#13 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Most CFs Can’t Spell Sustainability
CF Response:
1. I Finally Get It: “All We Sell Are Loss Leaders!”
1. There is No Magic Asset Size… Period!
2. Minimum Fund Size and/or Fees Going Up
3. Alternative Revenue Sources Should Be Equitable
and Balanced
#14 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Fundraising Funds, Affiliate Funds, Field-of-Interest
Campaigns and Special Events
1. From a Development and Sustainability
Perspective – These Don’t Work
2. From a Progammatic Perspective – These May
3. All Generate Lots of Small Gifts – and SUPERSUCK
Staff Time (again “Busy is Not Productive”)
#15 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Not Returning Phone Calls/E-Mails in One Business
Day and Other Customer Service Flubs
1. All You Are Selling is Trust and Confidence!
2. Follow Through!
3. Embed Customer Service Performance Standards
In Every Employee Evaluation
4. Revisit Sales Slide!
#16 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Inconsistent Internal and External Messaging
1. One to Two Sentence Elevator Speech
2. Exercise:
Step 1: Ask Every Volunteer and Staff Member to
Describe Your CF in One Sentence to a
Prospective Donor.
Step 2: Laugh or Cry.
#17 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Product-Based Approach Rather Than a Needs-Based
Customer Service Approach
1. They Don’t Need to See the Whole Menu
2. Let Prospects Talk – You Don’t
3. Then Create the Value Meal That is Right for Them
4. Again, Stories!
#18 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Keeping Donors Happy is NOT Enough
CF Response: Survey, Survey, Survey
Focus on Perfect/Ideal Donor Characteristics and Intentionally
Move Them There
Actively grants out of fund each year
Attends at least one CF function annually
Makes annual contributions to the fund
Does 100% of giving through the fund
Makes responsive grants to a CF mailing
Requests grant assistance
Refers ideal donor
Serves on CF committee or is a volunteer
Creates a planned gift
Actively co-invests with CF priorities
#19 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Actively grants out of fund each year
Key Foundation Outcomes, Not Everything!
Attends at least one GCF function annually
Makes annual contributions to the fund
Does 100% of giving through the fund
Makes responsive grants to a GCF mailing
1. 1-2 Page Dashboard Reports on 8-10 Key Success
Requests grant assistance
Measures to
Key Internal Staff/Volunteers is
Refers ideal donor
Usually Sufficient
on GCF
is a volunteer the Thing You
2. Don’tServes
Time or
a planned
Are Supposed
to Be
GCF priorities
3. Yet Again,
is not
#20 Thing That Drives Me Nuts
Poor Care and Feeding of Professional Advisors
1. Thank Them Profusely! Board/President and
Publicly and Privately
2. Newsletter, Annual Meeting, Web, etc.
3. They are Your Unpaid Sales Force!
Five More Things That Should Have Made
the List!
1. Non-Standardization – “Exceptions to
Exceptions to Exceptions” are Kryptonite
2. Meaningless Mission Statements – “We want to
improve the lives of people in our region.”
3. Recognize Your Value, Grow a Spine and Price
Confidently/Accordingly – “Remember, Basic
Cable is $50/month”
4. Grandfathering is Taking the Grandchildren to
Disney – It is Not a Prudent Policy
5. Failure to Set Expectations of Staff, Board and
Donors – “Don’t Complain when They Don’t
Know What You Want Them to Do!”
And Two More Bonus Irritations!
1. “Our” is a Very, Very Dangerous Word! Think
about what “We made a grant from our
unrestricted pool” conveys, and most
importantly, doesn’t convey - #123rd lost
teachable moment! And please change the
word “unrestricted” to something less milktoast!
2. “Bryan You Don’t Get It – We Don’t Have the
Wealth of (Insert Larger City within a 3 Hour
Drive)” Remember the “Two Kinds of Beer
Were The Goals Accomplished?
• Have Fun Ranting on my Soap-Box
• Make Sure Everyone is
Disturbed/Uncomfortable At Least Once
• Make Sure You Never Hire Me for
Anything… Ever
• Give You at Least Three Practical Ideas
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