What Every Board Member Needs to Know About Fundraising

Over the past 26 years, Fairmount Ventures has assisted over 400 nonprofits and raised more than $800,000,000. In so doing, we’ve generated extensive knowledge about what highly successful fundraising efforts have in common. Here’s what we’ve learned, and what we advise clients’ volunteer leadership to consider as you help staff generate more dollars to do more good.

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In Search of the Great Board Chair

You can go to school and earn an advanced degree in executive leadership, but no one is formally trained to be a board chair. Nonprofit board chairs are often successful professionals accustomed to playing an active role in driving change, making bold moves, and giving orders in their own organizations – in short, traits that can make for a disastrous board chair.

What, then, are the traits of a great board chair? Here’s what we’ve learned from a review of recent research, as well Fairmount Ventures’ experience over many years of working with hundreds of boards. Continue reading

The Succession Set-up

Among the most important decisions an organization will make is selecting its leader. Yet, a recent study estimated that while 66% of nonprofit executives expect to leave their jobs within five years, only 13% of nonprofit organizations have succession plans.  If selecting its top executive is so critical, and one of the few variables over which a nonprofit has total control, how do we get it right?
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Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. What’s Your Appetite for Change?

The aphorism “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, while apocryphally attributed to Peter Drucker, is a powerful insight irrespective of who said it first. How many of us have developed great plans only to have our ideas not reach full potential, despite best efforts? We spend considerable time focused on the stuff we can see and think we can control – procedures, technology, staffing – at the peril of giving insufficient attention to the stuff we cannot, or choose not, to see: organizational culture. Continue reading

Demand and Supply: Can We Transform Motivation Into a Movement? 

Despite the daily barrage of head-spinning news coming out of Washington, let’s not lose sight of a few facts back here in Philadelphia:

  1. Many Philadelphians are angry about federal policies that hurt us, and are motivated to respond.
  2. We live in a wealthy region with a long history of people coming together to solve problems.
  3. We have effective nonprofits with intellectual and human capital in need of financial capital.

How do we move from problem to motivation to action? It may be a long distance run, but there is a path. Forget for a moment supply and demand; let’s demand a supply. For starters, recent research has established that people are ready to donate more money to causes they care about. Continue reading

Raising Philadelphia’s Philanthropy

The Opportunity? An Additional $323 Million to Share

Philadelphia has done a good job of organizing people in response to the immediate challenges to federal policies. People from all walks of life have joined together to say “no” to measures that reduce opportunities for people and communities. But resistance is not enough; it is equally critical to succeed in creating better futures for people and places in order to demonstrate that equitable public policies and practices generate results. What if we provide avenues for concerned people to be able to say “yes” to positive change by also organizing money? Continue reading

The Proof is in the Planting

PHS show

PHS celebrates Holland at the 2017 Flower Show. (Photo courtesy of PHS)

This week, an estimated 255,000 attendees will explore the 10 acres of exhibition space at the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

The oldest and most renowned horticultural event in the United States, landscape and floral designers from around the globe create brilliant displays to the delight of Flower Show guests. The proceeds from the annual convention go directly to support additional PHS programming and other initiatives. And while the Philadelphia Flower Show is undeniably the most visible demonstration of the society’s work and impact, there is more to PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) than just sensational spring flora.

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If all the world is a stage, what is the play?

Twenty five years ago this month–Groundhog Day to be exact–we launched Fairmount Ventures. Our goal was to play a role in advancing a vision of society in which community and connection are valued, where everyone has equal access to the resources and support needed to live healthy, joyful, resilient lives. The founding idea was to assemble a multi-disciplinary, diverse team capable of providing unparalleled insights and access to funding to nonprofit and public-sector organizations in order to strengthen and accelerate their transformational impact on communities. Continue reading

Quick: I’m Double Parked, Want to Collaborate?

We were delighted by the recent splash heard on local and national news this week. President Obama announced that West Philadelphia is one of just five communities nationwide selected to be a “Promise Zone.” This is a new federal initiative to target resources to areas with significant poverty in order to transform the lives of area residents without displacing them. Continue reading