Ep 40: Overcoming Fundraising Mistakes (with Jim Bennett)

nonprofits are messy

Fundraising can be full of landmines.

You call a lapsed donor who tells you this isn’t a good time because, well, her husband recently passed away. Or another who is still holding a grudge because he got a crappy seat at the last gala.

But is there a way to turn these kinds of lemons into lemonade? Why yes, I do believe there is.

Time for some role playing with a Development Director with decades of experience asking for money. Oh, and he’s also an instructor at Second City, one of the most important improv comedy groups in the country, having graduated the likes of Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and so many of our greatest comedians.

Let’s have some fun, shall we?

About Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett is the Chief Development Officer for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBT community and those living with HIV. Jim has more than 25 years of experience in advocacy, strategic planning, and development.

Prior to Lambda, Jim was the marketing and development director for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and has led development marketing and programmatic departments at the American Red Cross.

He also serves on the board of RefugeeOne and is a member of the Broadway United Methodist Church.

He has an MBA from the University of Illinois and an undergraduate degree in marketing from ISU.

Oh, and about the improv and sketch comedy… in 2013, Jim was Moth Storytelling Grand Slam Champion for his story about his experience in Iowa after Lambda Legal’s marriage equality victory. It was called, “Church of Hamballs”.

In this episode:

  • How learning improv can make you a better fundraiser
  • Typical fundraising mistakes
  • Jim’s first time asking for money
  • Getting over asking for a large donation
  • Why you need to care about specifically about who you’re raising money for
  • How to overcome the fear of asking for money
  • Fundraising role playing
  • How to know if you’re asking for the right amount
  • What to do if you asked for too much
  • How to handle a donor that feels slighted
  • How being a board member can make you a better fundraiser

Episode Links:

Joan Garry
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Joan Garry

Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.
Joan Garry
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Latest posts by Joan Garry (see all)

  • Thanks for the role playing. This is a huge issue for me, that I need to work on learning this skill!