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60-Second Inspiration: Bonnie Downing, Independent Fundraising Professional

17 May 2017 4:08 PM | Anonymous

What is single best advice you can give to a fundraiser?

Listen to your donors. Get really good at recognizing donor needs and motivation. So often we feel we need to “sell” our organizations and projects and talk too much. We should be listening intently to what our donors are telling us. Better listening leads to philanthropy which rewards the donor as much as the organization.


What’s the one book you would recommend to a fundraiser and why? (It can be about fundraising or not!)

Some of my favorite authors are Kay Sprinkel Grace and Penelope Burk. They write a lot about donor-centered fundraising. I found learning about marketing was very relevant to development work. Marketing focuses on studying target markets, packaging products, and the use of a variety of communication vehicles. Similarly, as fundraisers ascend to leadership in organizations, learning about finance and strategic planning become important.


What’s the one fundraising blog or periodical you recommend fundraisers subscribing to?

I was a faithful reader of Chronicle of Philanthropy for a quarter of a century. I clipped it, wrote all over it, circulated it to staff with notes, and prodded when back issues piled up on someone’s desk.


What’s your favorite donor story?

“The Unexpected Second Gift” -- The Marsico family was an early and generous investor in the “Space Odyssey” exhibit at the Museum of Nature & Science. Wanting to be good donor stewards, we arranged for Cindy Schulz, program officer for the Marsico Foundation, to come for a site visit. We wanted her to see the theater area we created with the family’s grant. After our tour and profuse thanks for their gift, Cindy announced that the Marsicos wanted to make a second gift of $500,000. We were speechless!


Institute for Leaders in Development at University of Denver | University Hall 301 2197 S. University Blvd. Denver Colorado 80208 | ildcolorado@gmail.com 

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