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Your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising, charity auctions and no-risk travel packages.

Nonprofits are Missing Their Development Directors [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Ian Lauth


Fundraising is a tough business. When you rely on individual, voluntary contributions as your main source of revenue - as Nonprofits do - it can be a constant challenge to keep sustainable sources of funding coming in.

These fundraising issues are exacerbated by the fact that Nonprofits across the country struggle to find qualified candidates to build and develop their fundraising programs, leaving many Nonprofits falling short of the financial commitments they need to fulfill their mission.

The following survey data, gathered from over 2,700 executive and development directors from Nonprofits across the country, was put together as a joint project of CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund for the whitepaper Underdeveloped. It is the first-ever national survey of executives and development directors on the topic of fundraising. The objective was to identify why so many organizations and their leaders struggle with fund development.

The findings show that many of the fundraising challenges faced by Nonprofits can be traced to volatility in the development director role - with high turnover, a slim pool of qualified candidates and long vacancies in the position threatening Nonprofits’ ability to build and grow their development operations.  

So what gives?? Where are all the development directors?

As the following infographic shows, this is a problem that goes deeper than the development director role. Here we showcase some of the most interesting statistics that bring to light some of these deeper organizational challenges that may be undermining the ability of Nonprofits to raise the necessary funds they need to succeed.

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Topics: fundraising, nonprofits, development directors

Are You Killing Your Fundraiser With These 5 Auction Mistakes?

Posted by Ian Lauth



Charity auction items are the bedrock of a successful fundraising event. They offer a fun and engaging way for guests to interact, spend money for a good cause and even take something special home at the end of the night. All too often, however, auction items at Nonprofit fundraising events garner too few bids, don't raise much money and generally aren't worth the amount of time it took to procure them. So what gives?  

Usually it comes down to a few easy-to-rectify mistakes that can kill the earning potential of the auctions items you spent months procuring. Generate record fundraising numbers at your next charity auction by avoiding these five mistakes:

Mistake #1: Ignoring audience interests

Items up for auction must appeal to the people attending the event. That's why understanding audience interests before you start procuring items is key. For example, if you know you have a lot of foodies and wine enthusiasts on your guest list, tailor your auction items to include culinary workshops, dining packages or travel experience to wine country. For music gurus, tickets to the local concert hall or an auction package to a nationally televised awards show will draw big interest. Use the knowledge of audience interests to your advantage so you can procure items and select experiences that will inspire fierce bidding.
-- For more read: 3 Ways to Procure Auction Items Based on Donor Interests

Mistake #2: Lack of advertising

Unveiling everything on the day of the event might seem like it would create a nice surprise factor, but this strategy often backfires. If you have amazing auction packages for this year's event, advertise them early on! This builds excitement prior to the event and lets attendees gauge their interest before they even enter the building. When you get people coming to the event already knowing they are going to bid for a particular item, you're positioned for a very active and successful auction.
-- For more read: 5 Tips for Using Auction Items to Generate Buzz For Your Event

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Topics: event-production, charity auction items

Importance of Individual Giving [GRAPHIC]

Posted by Ian Lauth


Individual giving is the biggest revenue stream for most Nonprofits, and it all starts with fundraising events. 

According to Giving USA, gifts from individual donors accounted for 81% of giving in 2010, while only 19% of giving came from foundations and corporations. A more recent study conducted by Giving USA shows that this trend is continuing to grow. In 2014, corporate giving declined 3.2%, while donations from living Americans grew 2.7%. Individual donors are clearly necessary for Nonprofits to thrive. 

For development teams, that means donor procurement, cultivation and stewardship need to be a focus every single day with the ultimate goal of establishing donor relationships that result in lifelong donors.

Here we break down the above graphic to explain the continuum of donor development:

The Donor Continuum

Donor-Continuum_Events-Entry-PointEvents (Entry Point)Fundraising events like dinner galas and golf tournaments are the point of entry where prospective donors are identified and first contact is made through their participation at the event. This could include socializing during cocktail hour or connecting with new guests over an auction item they win during the event.

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Topics: fundraising, donor-relations, donor development, individual giving, donor continuum

Why Nonprofits Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Failure

Posted by Ian Lauth


Running a Nonprofit is no small feat. Trying to balance a cohesive fundraising strategy with the constant pressure to please donors, volunteers, the board and the public at large can sometimes make you feel like there is no room for failure. Unfortunately, this mindset can limit the ability of an organization to fulfill its mission.

Unlike for-profit businesses, today’s Nonprofit sector is not failure-friendly. In business, failure is often embraced as an important part of a company’s development because it can lead to innovation. Meanwhile, many Nonprofits live in constant fear of disappointing, losing or fatiguing their donors.

Instead of investing in new and innovative ways to generate revenue ‒ some of which may not be successful ‒ Nonprofits often end up sticking with what they know. Traditional fundraising activities, such as special events and donor outreach, might raise considerable amounts of money, but what if you want to raise more so you can make a bigger impact at a faster pace?

Charities need to have the courage to dream big, and that starts with embracing the idea that it’s okay to take risks and potentially fail. Why? Because embracing failure creates a culture of innovation. The lessons learned from a failure can enable an organization to learn, change and, ultimately, grow.

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Topics: nonprofits

10 Golden Rules of Donor Development

Posted by Jeff Cova


Donor cultivation is a critical part of achieving a charity's mission. Build a good relationship with donors and you set the stage for a lifetime of giving. Ignore the importance of donor relations, however, and your donors may become loyal givers elsewhere.

Donor relations isn't just for corporate sponsors and foundations, either. In fact, according to Giving USA, 81% of Nonprofit revenue comes from living individuals and bequests, which means a good donor-relation plan will always focus on the individual givers.

Consider these 10 golden rules to build donor-relation momentum and help your Nonprofit succeed long-term:

1. Be committed – Donor development should be a top priority every day. Think of it as a customer-service function. You want to provide a world-class experience that leaves donors happy, informed and engaged. If they have a stellar experience and feel valued, not only are they more likely to donate in the future, but they might suggest your organization to friends with similar interests who also have charitable dollars to give.

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Topics: donor-relations, donor development

The Winspire Donation Give-Away is Back!

Posted by Ian Lauth


Subscribe to Winspire News for your chance to win a Winspire Experience to New York City for your next fundraising auction!

We know donations are hard to come by. That's one of the reasons we started creating unique Experiences and why our mission is to help Nonprofits maximize how much money they raise at their events. As part of this mission, we want give back to the community that we are so much a part of by giving away a Winspire Experience each quarter to one of our Winspire News subscribers.

If you're already a subscriber, make sure you still visit the Donation Give-Away page and enter the contest in order to be eligible for the drawing! (See Contest Details)


Every three months we will select one winner at random from our Winspire News subscribers who enter the Donation Give-Away to receive a Donation Give-Away worth over $1,000 to be used in fundraising for your favorite cause, mission or charity. Donations will be in the form of unique package experiences, hotel stays, airfare or memorabilia. 

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Topics: nonprofits

Nonprofits Need to Invest in Good People

Posted by Ian Lauth


This article is part of a series titled "Lessons from the Biz World" where we explore valuable aspects of the for-profit sector that can be applied to nonprofit management and translate into a more efficient, stable and successful organization with a greater impact. 

Lesson 2: Invest in good people

When it comes to finding passionate, experienced and intelligent people to work for your Nonprofit, it's important to budget appropriate funds to attract top talent. Just like at a for-profit company, acquiring and retaining people who have the proper skills and drive might come at a cost, but it is the sort of investment necessary to create long-term success conditions within an organization. 



Melissa Beck
Chief Executive Officer

Carlos Leija

Carlos Leija
Chief Development Officer


Lessons from the Biz World

The for-profit business world offers many valuable lessons that can be applied to nonprofit management. In this series we look at how these can translate into a more efficient, stable and successful organization that has a greater impact: 

Lesson 1: Manage capital wisely 

Lesson 2: Invest in good people

Lesson 3: Track and measure successes (and failures)

Lesson 4: Utilize branding strategies 

Lesson 5: Manage your donor base like customers

Lesson 6: Overhead is not negative

Lesson 7: Embrace resistance

“Some of our youth are on the cusp of either making it or not. When I say not making it, that could mean living in a park, incarceration, death, or falling victim to human trafficking,” says Carlos Leija, Chief Development Director for Orangewood Children Foundation. “So we really invest in who we hire ‒ knowledgeable individuals who truly know what it means to work for a Nonprofit, who want to make an impact and, in our case, foster youths.”

Find the Right Talent

How can you find the right talent for your Nonprofit? Network, network, network! Leverage your professional and personal connections on sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook to post job openings and discover candidates. This is going to be your least expensive option since it only requires your time. 

Don't hesitate to use your board as a resource for finding and developing new employees. “We’re fortunate to have a very strong and influential board of directors. They bring business sense, leadership and knowledge, as they generously invest their time to help us guide and govern our organization,” Leija explains.

You can also make some small investments in recruitment. Place job postings with leading job listing sites such as or You can also hire a recruiter to take the lead if you lack the time or skills to manage the process, but that can be expensive so you may want to use this option as a last resort.

Make a Competitive Offer

Once you've found the ideal candidate, it's time to make a competitive offer to get that talent onboard. Check the latest salary trends before entering negotiations. You can use sites like or, but check multiple sources because job valuations can vary quite a bit. Establish an initial salary offer you think is fair based on the candidate's qualifications, the job and standards within the industry. It's also important to set a maximum salary above your initial offer that your board would be comfortable with to give yourself a little wiggle room in case you get a counter offer.

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Topics: nonprofits, biz-world-lessons



Winston & Winnie

The Winspire Twins

Winston & Winnie love to help Nonprofits raise money for amazing causes. They also love to travel and have a bucket list of amazing Experiences they are determined to complete in their lifetime. Winspire News is the result of this shared passion, offering you fundraising advice, industry news and explorations into each of our incredible travel packages

Auction Item Procurement
Starter Kit

starter kit underline


A free resource with helpful templates to get the auction item procurement process off the ground.

- Donation Form TEMPLATE
- Procurement Letter TEMPLATE
- Procurement Letter Example