The 10 commandments of the small nonprofit development office

March 7, 2011

  1. The donor is your friend, your supporter, your adviser and you shall treat her as such.
  2. You shall banish typical ‘non-profit drivel’ from all donor communication pieces.  The art of persuasive copywriting is quite possibly the single most important skill a nonprofit development director can have.
  3. Marble with Ten commandments, Jerusalem, Israel

    Marble with Ten commandments, Jerusalem, Israel

    Remember that monthly giving accounts for 31% of the giving total in the UK and 37% of donors in the UK are monthly givers.  You shall launch and nurture your monthly giving program.

  4. You shall learn how to use social media and email effectively.
  5. You shall not emulate your peers but celebrate the uniqueness of your organization, your donors, have fun and play.
  6. You shall establish the processes to build relationships with foundation grant funders – just as you do your individual donors.  A declination is an opportunity for further communication.
  7. You shall integrate your communications.  Online, direct mail, email, social media – it needs to be cohesive.
  8. You shall maintain the integrity of your data.
  9. You shall meet with and listen to your donors, forming the groundwork for your major donor program.
  10. You shall say thank you.  Again and again and again.  And again.  Create a stewardship system and put it in writing.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc A. Pitman, March 8, 2011 at 7:35 am


I especially like #10. It’s amazing how few organizations have stewardship plans in writing! Writing it out forces you to think about the plan AND helps you maintain even with staff changes.

Gayle L. Gifford, ACFRE March 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

11. You will spend way more time out of the office having conversations with people.

Jeremy Douglas March 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Pamela, this is great! I would have to single out #6 as my favourite. Relationship building is absolutely crucial to effective fundraising and development.

Bunnie Riedel March 9, 2011 at 7:07 am

Pamela, I love how you always provide lists to live by! What a great one to take to the next board and staff meeting.

Kirsten Bullock March 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Love the reminder about monthly-giving programs. Such a missed opportunity for so many noprofits.

Sandy Rees March 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I have one to add, too:
“You shall not expect people to automatically know how to raise money for you when they accept a position on your Board. Instead, you shall support them and teach them how to effectively help raise money for your good cause.”

Sandy Rees

Sherry Truhlar March 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Everyone loves lists and this is a GREAT list!

I want to second #5. I too often see organizations trying to copy what another organization did at a special event – a big mistake. You are right, the organizations are unique and so are the donors. When orgs recognize that they have much more success.

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