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Each December we find ourselves reviewing our work from the year to determine what to keep, what to throw away, and what to add in the New Year. In over 30 years of working for and with nonprofits one of my most dreaded and frequently…

Can one day impact your nonprofit’s drive for sustainability? A lot is being said right now about Giving Tuesday. I don’t disagree with the strategy behind this much-publicized day of giving and think it’s a very useful tool in the fundraising toolkit for many smaller…

Convergent Senior Project Director Len Romano recently shared his three top tips for conducting a successful feasibility study. Watch and learn from Len or read on to find out his tips below.   The important first step in any capital campaign is the feasibility study…

Convergent Note: The following article was recently published online by Forbes Nonprofit Council and written by Senior Project Director Carlotta Ungaro. That other nonprofit bank account When an individual or business makes that investment in your nonprofit, the funds go into the bank account. But what…

As our fundraising efforts for economic development organizations and community colleges increasingly take shape around a strategic plan with workforce development at its core, we find ourselves taking part in this important, ongoing conversation. Sean Stockard, a Convergent fundraising professional, recently shared his insight on…

What does a fundraising consultant do? A Beatles lyric was my inspiration for this thought about the day-to-day role of a fundraising consultant conducting a feasibility study or directing a capital campaign. “What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you stand…

5 Fundraising Misconceptions and How to Address Them Adapted from ROI for Nonprofits: The New Key to Sustainability The original title of this section was “Five Classic Fundraising Campaign Myths,” but that implied that these misconceptions had a strong probability of being false. The fact is,…

ROI and Grant Proposals Tips for Nonprofits Grant proposals typically involve some type of ROI proof, but I often find that nonprofit executives struggle with this step in the grant-writing process. Determining ROI does not always come naturally, though the term itself is overused. Everyone…

We have helped numerous nonprofits decrease their dependency on events as a main fundraising source.  But of course, we understand the need for special events. In fact, a well-planned event can serve a significant branding purpose for a nonprofit. It can help to market your…

Lessons in Fundraising for Nonprofits for 2019 A few weeks ago, during the  50th anniversary of the moon landing, my husband and I watched “The Right Stuff.” The 1983 movie based on Tom Wolfe’s novel of the same name tells the story of the U.S….

Is Gen Z the Next Generation of Nonprofit Donors and Volunteers? Generation Z, the demographic profile of young people born between the late-1990s and early-2000s, is becoming a key contributor group in the nonprofit world. With high levels of engagement and extra money to spend, their nonprofit giving habits reflect…

When gearing up for a new campaign, some nonprofits are skeptical about whether to use a fundraising consultant. They may be reluctant to spend extra budget dollars or to bring in people who aren’t native to their organization. The decision to bring in outside counsel…

Everybody’s got a book club these days, so we thought we’d better get in the mix too! The fundraising professionals on our team have centuries of combined experience and are currently raising millions of dollars for nonprofits all over the country. Who better to turn…

The following is a guest post from our friends at Wild Apricot. Many of the top nonprofits I’ve worked with have one thing in common: they regularly use tech tools to help them in every department. In today’s mobile-driven world, that means it’s time to…

The following is a guest post from our friends at Creative Economic Development Consulting. We are always surprised when we hear professionals disparage strategic planning. While some folks may see the process as a barrier to beginning the “real work”, strong nonprofit leaders see a…

As fundraisers, we love donors (or investors, as we prefer to think of them) who possess high propensities and high capacities to give. Their passion perfectly aligns with the organization, and they tend to be at the top of lists for capital campaign chairs and…

Cost Per Dollar Raised. Donor Retention Rate. Matching Gift Rate. Social Return on Investment. The list goes on for metrics and measurements that come across your desk as a nonprofit executive on a daily or even hourly basis. No one can deny the importance of…

The Importance of Continuous Economic Development Initiatives A few years ago, the Omaha Chamber’s economic development arm initiated an award-winning awareness campaign around a double entendre slogan: “Omaha … We Don’t Coast.” Creative design and art, clever video footage, and great social media distribution were…

As I have traveled around the country in the past 20 years doing lectures and workshops, there has been one sentence that has resonated with all of my audiences:  “If your organization doesn’t demonstrate its value to potential funders,  they’ll fund an organization that does.”    Many of…

The New York Times recently had an article on precrastination, which is defined as “the tendency to tackle sub goals at the earliest opportunity — even at the expense of extra effort,” or the opposite of procrastination. It’s so satisfying to move forward and check…

In identifying effective board members for your nonprofit, fundraising should be a key skill set in your search. This blog will focus on why this is important and the tactics to help build a fundraising board culture in your nonprofit organization. A fundraising board and…

How to Increase Your Board’s Fundraising Impact My favorite question to ask when leading a board retreat is, “How many of you like asking for money?” Usually, only one or two hands go up. My second favorite question, as an immediate follow-up, is, “How many of…

The 2018 ACCE Convention did not disappoint! Very strong content and wonderful network development for EVERYBODY but the real star of the show may have been the place, not the program. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many raves about the host city and chamber…

Over 20 years ago, the idea of discussing “investors” and “return on investment” in relation to nonprofit organizations seemed preposterous. Today, however, it is not uncommon to hear both terms used widely throughout the sector.

Is Your Capital Campaign Designed For Success? Before a surgeon can operate, the surgical team must check the patient’s vital signs to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Similarly, a capital campaign is a major operation impacting the financial health of your…

Moving Your Nonprofit Away From Government Funding Many nonprofit organizations have been solely dependent on government funding for so long that the idea of pursuing private sector funding can be a bit intimidating. Where do you even begin? I recently had the opportunity to talk…

Promise Programs Funding for Community Colleges If your state or community has a Promise Program, chances are you’ve heard your funders say something along these lines: “I only give scholarships, so if Community College is ‘free,’ where does that leave me?” “I guess I should…

Reframing ROI for Nonprofit Organizations We’ve all been there. You go in to meet with a potential investor, begin to outline your strategic plan and funding needs and are having a great dialogue. Frankly, you’re in the zone and loving it. After all that great…

Feasibility studies are a critical first step in fundraising. Crafting them with care is extremely important. They typically are 20 to 30 questions in length and give you an excellent perspective on your organization: how people view the board, the effectiveness of the team, and…

Your capital campaign is over. You’ve secured the funding needed to implement your strategic plan, grow your services, make capital improvements, etc. Now what? Having a strong investor relations program is a critical element of every capital campaign.

Does your case for support look something like this? “We have to serve more people, so you need to give us more money.” Unfortunately, many nonprofits tend to put out a similar message. Inevitably, at the end of the fiscal year, you’ll see another one:…

Conducting a funding feasibility study is an important first step every organization must take before launching a capital campaign. This process helps you determine the viability of your project before investing significant time and money into the campaign. A well-executed feasibility study will paint a…

I love business-led, civic-economic nonprofit entities (chambers of commerce), but the affection is seldom nurtured by their electronic identities. I know and respect what they do and who they represent! Why don’t chamber websites and social media accounts demonstrate and amplify their initiatives, services, and…

Capital campaigns are a group effort. Simply having a strong executive director or board chair at the helm is not a guarantee of success; it’s all about having the right team assembled. Convergent is happy to share Allison’s guest blog post as it provides valuable…

The search for Amazon’s second HQ in the United States has thrust economic development into the national spotlight. In fact, one of my favorite sessions at IEDC‘s 2018 Leadership Summit was the Tuesday morning special plenary session, “Chasing the Big Deal,” which focused heavily on…

In December I reached out to community college leaders across the country to ask, “What are the next big trends in the world of community college fundraising?” While some speculated about the ways social media could become a stronger fundraising tool, others focused on how…

Just when you thought you might be free from my meddling, I stumble back into chamber life. I am proud to announce my new affiliation with Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, a firm that has proven itself to be a formidable resource for chambers and development organizations. While…

If we are being honest, on most days our inboxes are buried under a barrage of email. Many of the emails are automated email newsletters from businesses or organizations that we support. Many get marked “read” without us ever opening them or reading them. Really…

Nonprofit leaders are constantly hearing about how important impact and outcomes are to funders. Articles with titles like, “Study: A Nonprofit’s Impact Is the Most Significant Consideration to Funders,” and, “Why Outcomes, Not Output, Is the Key to Nonprofit Sustainability,” are everywhere.  But taking the…

Change. According to noted Psychiatrist, RD Laing, “…change is so sped up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” Earlier this month I attended two conferences focused on the future of Community Colleges, one in Tampa – one in…

This year’s International Economic Development Council Annual Conference really lived up to its promise to “Connect. Collaborate. Create.” Not only was the conference packed full of great educational sessions, there were countless opportunities for attendees to network and connect with their peers. From the host committee’s…

Watch the video below to learn the key steps included in the investment campaign model. This best practices approach is a proven and highly successful way to secure the funding needed to implement a wide variety of economic development initiatives. You can also continue reading…

When nonprofits start preparing for a large funding campaign or strategic initiative, there is a check list of to-dos that readily come to mind. Brand awareness, board engagement, and a strong plan that investors will get behind. Strong executive leadership is also essential to launching…

Earlier this year, thousands of nonprofit professionals gathered in Washington, D.C. to attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness‘ Annual Conference. This event provides resources and training to those working to address America’s epidemic of homelessness, from nonprofits to governmental agencies, in an effort to…

This year’s Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives’ (ACCE) Annual Conference was, quite possibly, the best ACCE conference we’ve ever attended! From line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon (what a hoot!) to ACCE President Mick Fleming’s moving goodbye toast, it was definitely an experience…

Do you feel like you are living through the Nonprofit Hunger Games? Do you feel you have to compete with other nonprofits for funders? Are you making decisions based on a scarcity mentality where it feels like there is not going to be enough funding?…

I very much enjoyed yet another Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) conference this year, and especially having the opportunity to introduce my partner Cheryl Hardy to so many of you. Florida has become our fastest growing market, and as Central Florida residents, Cheryl and I…

This year marked the 97th anniversary of the American Association of Community College’s Annual Convention. I’ve been fortunate to attend this event every year for the last ten years. I’ve even had the honor of presenting several times. This year’s convention theme, “Community Colleges: America’s North Star,” was a particularly interesting one to me.

Every year Mark attends the MAKO Chamber Conference. This annual meeting of chamber professionals from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma has grown drastically since its inception, and this year had the largest attendance yet. After each conference, Mark usually shares a few of the “Frequently Asked Questions” he heard about chamber fundraising and our services during the conference, but this year, we thought we’d change things up a bit.

“Nimble, inclusive, and entrepreneurial.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos used these three terms to highlight the unique role community colleges play as a catalyst in workforce development issues. “You’re absolutely essential engines of workforce and economic development — locally and regionally,” DeVos told a room full…

Insights from the 2017 National Conference on Ending Family & Youth Homelessness Last month I had the opportunity to join over 1,000 nonprofit professionals at the 2017 National Conference on Ending Family & Youth Homelessness, hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. A common…

Convergent Note: The following is a brief excerpt from an article written by Principal Mark Bergethon and published in the Mar/Apr 2017 issue of AmeriDisability, “Florida’s leading publication for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits supporting our disabled community.” To read the full article, follow the link…

Community Colleges change lives. We all have heard the stories of the financially strapped students whose dreams of a college degree seem unachievable until a scholarship opportunity opens the doors to their future. Philanthropy at its Horatio Alger-esque best! The donor feels good about their…

Happy New Year Readers! The last year has been an action-packed one for Convergent. We launched the Making Mission Happen division, added several highly talented fundraising professionals to our team, crisscrossed the country speaking and exhibiting at industry conferences, and most importantly, we worked with…

When I first decided to write about Women in Economic Development, my initial plan was to share the post immediately after the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference. That conference is well in the rearview mirror and my goal of publishing this post immediately…

There were plenty of great sessions at this year’s annual summit, and we’re honored that Principal Andy Coe was included as one of the presenters. His session, “The Power of Community Partnerships in Funding Workforce Development Initiatives,” had an excellent turnout, and attendees really engaged…

This article was originally written for and published in the International Economic Development Council’s “ED Now” newsletter. We are excited to make it available to non-IEDC members here for the first time. There were 5.8 million job openings across the United States at the end of April,…

A great number of local and regional economic development organizations rely primarily on State and local tax dollars to support their operations.  While talking with fellow economic development professionals last month at the IEDC Annual Conference in Cleveland, I noticed a distinct trend amongst economic…

Convergent Note: The following is a brief excerpt from the article “Counterpoint: Feasibility Studies and Other Reasons Outside Counsel Can Help Small Nonprofits,” recently published by NonProfit PRO and written by Principal Mark Bergethon. To read the full article, follow the link at the bottom of…

I very much enjoyed yet another Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives (TCCE) conference this year. Kyle Spurgeon and his team from the Jackson Chamber of Commerce were out in full force playing gracious host and did a great job all around. Special personal congratulations were…

I pulled up to the hotel and heard familiar sounds, sensed the savory smells and felt the energy that was unmistakably Savannah made. The Florida storms had wreaked havoc on the interstates, so it was too late to make an appearance at The Chairman’s Gala that…

Testimonials are a powerful way to deliver a convincing message. The credibility of third party endorsement is gold, and that credibility is even stronger when the testimonial comes from a familiar face. That’s why testimonials can be so effective for chambers of commerce and other…

Many state legislatures continue to struggle with their annual budgets due to shortfalls in revenue. For example, on May 18 Kentucky’s Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) announced that 506 positions had been cut: 191 faculty and 315 staff. These cuts were due to a…

Convergent Principals Rick Kiernan and Mark Bergethon attended and exhibited at the National Charter School Conference in Nashville two weeks ago. While speaking to dozens of charter school representatives about the prospect of launching a capital campaign to secure major funding commitments, several common questions…

I recently had the good fortune to speak with a number of smart and engaging advocates at the 2016 National CASA/GAL Conference. They are a group of professionals who have dedicated their careers to a cause as worthy as they come: ensuring that every abused…

As a nonprofit, have you ever stopped and wondered why you have a party planning department? Sure, we call it all kinds of things. We call it a fundraising department or a development team, but the reality is that in the nonprofit world, where we…

This article was originally written for and published in the International Economic Development Council’s “ED Now” newsletter. We are excited to make it available to non-IEDC members here for the first time. Economic development organizations are increasingly joining forces with like-minded organizations to tackle complex economic issues….

This article was originally written for and published in the International Economic Development Council’s “ED Now” newsletter. We are excited to make it available to non-IEDC members here for the first time. Raising public and private funding for economic development is nothing new. Economic development…

As the Donors Churn, an article in the Winter 2016 issue of Advancing Philanthropy, caught my eye for several reasons. One was the use of the word churn, usually reserved for what stock brokers (remember them?) did to turn an easy commission. Another was the…

We’re excited to share the following press release, written and distributed by the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC)! Convergent has enjoyed attending and exhibiting at SEDC events for several years now, and we’re honored to have that involvement and dedication to SEDC’s success recognized and rewarded…

During the IEDC Annual Conference in Anchorage, I was honored to participate in the panel session, “Because We’re Worth It: Communicating Your EDO’s Value.” One of my fellow panelists, Allison Larsen, CEcD, is Principal of the successful economic development and site selection consulting firm TadZo. While…

This year’s Northeastern Economic Developers Association’s Annual Conference proved to be another success! More than 150 economic development professionals converged on Syracuse to learn and to share their best practices as it related to this year’s theme, “Re-Think, Re-Vive, Re-Thrive…Leveraging the Assets of Our Communities.”…

We had a great time in Montreal and we hope you did as well! As always, the ACCE Annual Conference provided a great opportunity to meet up with old friends, clients, and colleagues, and make new acquaintances, too. Throughout the conference, we consistently heard attendees commenting…

We had a great time in Savannah and we hope you did as well! As always, the SEDC Annual Conference provided a great opportunity to meet up with old friends, clients, and colleagues, and make new acquaintances too. During the state caucus meetings held on Sunday, Principal…

At first glance, hospitals and economic development may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but they are actually an incredibly powerful pairing. Economic development organizations (EDOs) want to ensure the availability of convenient, quality healthcare within their community because it is attractive to employers. In fact,…

It is with mixed emotions we inform you that Bob Johnson, one of our founding Principals, has retired from Convergent. Bob brought over 30 years of experience in the economic development industry to our team, and he has personally raised more than $75,000,000 for chambers…

Initiating a capital campaign is an exciting opportunity. It’s a time when you can help move your organization forward in a very dynamic way, although there are always a few challenges that will arise during a campaign. Many Executive Directors & CEOs might find themselves…

2014 was a busy year for the Convergent team. We began 20 new projects and our completed capital campaigns averaged 108% of goal! We hope many of you had a chance to meet and catch up with some of our principals and/or project directors as…

I always enjoy attending the International Economic Development Council annual meeting and last month’s gathering in Ft. Worth was no exception. I believe I have attended 22 or 23 of these meetings over the years. For me, it is a time to catch up with…

By Tom Ralser My 2014 BoardSource Leadership Forum presentation in Washington D.C. surfaced some very good questions. The capacity crowd, after hearing me drone on for over an hour on Outcomes That Increase Funding, asked a few questions that might be of interest to you…

By Mark Bergethon We are excited to have Principal Mark Bergethon featured in FundraisingSuccess’s “ProSpeak,” which features essays about “the nitty-gritty of fundraising, written by the people who do it every day.” Here is a quick look at the article: Through the implementation and analysis…

By Samantha Hardwick Today, in communities of all sizes throughout the country, companies are struggling to attract qualified workers despite high local unemployment rates. The biggest trend we are seeing right now is surging investor demand for workforce development programs to meet local employers’ needs….

By Mark Bergethon How do Asking Rights™, endowment, and transfer of wealth impact each other? As part of the Central Florida Foundation‘s 20th anniversary celebration, Mark Brewer, President/CEO of the Central Florida Foundation (CFF), and Tom Ralser, Principal of Convergent Nonprofit {and author of Asking Rights: Why Some…

Takeaways from the 2014 Southern Economic Development Council Annual Conference We had a great time in Memphis, TN at the Southern Economic Development Council Annual Conference and hope you did as well! There were plenty of great sessions to attend, covering topics ranging from railroads and…

New IOM graduates, pictured left to right: Larkin Simpson, IOM, Chamber Director & Project Manager, Jones County Chamber of Commerce (MS); April Bragg, IOM, President & CEO, Milledgeville­Baldwin County Chamber (GA); Brian Tucker, IOM, Director of Economic Development, Georgetown County Economic Development (SC); Lindsay Frilling,…

Tips for Using Special Events to Reach Your Funding Goals Special events are often a part of a nonprofit development plan. However, the true purpose of a special event can easily get lost in the flurry of planning activity, and the results usually don’t outweigh…

I had a great time exhibiting at the Mid-America Economic Development Council’s Best Practices Conference in Minneapolis last week, and I hope those of you who were able to attend enjoyed it as much as I did. While Convergent attends many conferences throughout the year,…

EDO Funding Trends | Convergent Nonprofit Solutions Recently I had the opportunity to present at the Tennessee Economic Development Council’s Spring Conference.  I was asked to speak about current trends that I am seeing in the Economic Development Organization (EDO) funding… what follows is a…

Fundraising FAQs | Convergent Nonprofit Solutions By Mark Bergethon Every year chamber professionals from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma gather together at Big Cedar Lodge to learn from one another, and this year the main goal was to “Get Real.” Session topics focused on “Real…

By Mark Bergethon The California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) holds an annual training conference, which I enjoy attending each year. This year’s conference, “Taking Care of Business,” which took place in Sacramento last week and focused on next practices and best practices for…

Site Selection, the primary magazine for corporate real estate strategy and economic development, recently named Wooster, Ohio, as the Top Micropolitan Area in America (defined as non-urban community anchored by a town of no more than 50,000 people). Wooster and Wayne County reached the top…

As I mention in an earlier blog post, I recently had the chance to attend the Alliance for Children & Families Senior Leadership Conference in Savannah, GA. It was a great conference with some amazing facilitators conducting workshops, and I was lucky enough to find…

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the Alliance for Children & Families Senior Leadership Conference in Savannah, GA. It was my first time attending, and I was humbled to learn about the Alliance and the impressive work they do, along with each of their…

Throughout this blog, you’re bound to see many posts where we refer to “investors” and nonprofit “investments.” Don’t worry though; you are in the right place. Can a nonprofit truly have investors? Absolutely! Differentiating between nonprofit donors vs. investors is a key part of fundraising,…

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) recently released a study titled “Raising the Bar Together: Successful Strategies for Workforce and Economic Development Collaboration.” It is certainly worth a read for anyone involved with Chambers of Commerce or Economic Development Organizations. Of particular interest to the…

A recent article in the The Chronicle of Philanthropy has spurred a lot of discussion among the principals here at Convergent. The article cites a study by Szu-chi Huang, assistant professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, in which she suggests that…