November 4, 2016

Want Donations? Part II Karen’s Development Theory

abstract background decorativeIn Part I of this article I asked about your theory of donations, based onAngela Duckworth’s book Grit. I also promised to share my development theory based on decades of helping organizations grow their income:  

mission x effort x skill = supporters

supporter value x effort= income 

Term Descriptions  


Jim Collins, in his monograph, “Good to Great in the Social Sector,” writes “. . . the number-one resource for a great social sector organization is having enough of the right people willing to commit themselves to mission.”  


Effort counts twice. This is your grit.

  1. Your noble purpose provides limitless fuel for your rocket. However, without effort you’ll sit on the launch pad blowing smoke. Your efforts, combined with your mission, generate supporters.
  2. Without effort, supporters never know about the value you provide. Effort allows you to fuel your boosters to enter orbit.  


No one is a born fundraiser. Fundraising requires a bucket of proficiencies. For some, talking to people comes easy. For others, writing requests is their forte. Professionals work on development skills one-by-one throughout their professional careers, and master them.   


Your supporters determine value, not you. When you provide supporters with value, some respond and become donors.

 For more on the need for the theory and grit, read Want Donations? Part I:Crystalize Your Development Theory. Then work out your theory of donations.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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