Inspired Fun Coach – Lori Cloninger Sweeney


New articles in AFP’s national magazine

Comparing closing a gift to planning the descent on a hike, this article was great fun to write and well received. It’s an example of how I like to approach fundraising creatively.

And, from last year, the reason I carry Kleenex with me; connecting with donors is a privilege!

Surprised to find my article on the cover of CASE Currents

I was surprised to get my CASE Currents yesterday and see that my feature was on the cover, complete with old-timey movie poster. In the print edition, the movie quotes look much more cool, but doesn’t everything look better in the print edition? Especially The Oregonian!?
The article captures a lot of my philosophy about fundraising, especially that it should be fun, and perhaps funny! I’m always interested in your feedback.
May your autumn be shaping up to be fun–and funny!

Be interested and interesting!

June 2015

We’re getting set for summer at our house, sprucing up the yard for two tea parties and talking the teenager into washing the windows. I’ve got a cattle drive, Segway tour on Catalina Island and paddle boarding in Netarts on the summer schedule. One of my dearest and wisest advisors and friend, Agnes Zach, absolutely exclaims that you need to be interested and interesting to be good at fundraising. Summer adventures make for great chit-chat at donor meetings, I find (donors ARE interested in cattle drives!). Hope you are planning lots of interesting summer adventures–and asking about those of your donors.

I am very excited to be working with University of Portland this summer on a comprehensive training and coaching experience for the annual giving staff. We worked out a personalized approach that focuses on just what they wanted: to refine thank-you calling to get visits, make asks boldly and track progress more finely so staff and managers benefit. I am very excited to be working with UP–whoo hoo!

In addition to a couple of coaching clients, I put together a presentation on developing a culture of philanthropy that I think is a good conversation for a staff retreat. The discussion helps us refine our language, storytelling and collaboration to raise the profile for philanthropy in our organizations. It’s a quick jolt of interactive information around a topic that is crucial for true organizational excellence in fundraising. Call me if you think your organization might benefit from this 2-hour dialogue. I am finding that small group “dialogue presentations” are simple and effective for many organizations.

CASE Currents accepted my feature article on “fundraising is like dating” to remind us all that “breaking up with a donor” is necessary but “hard to do,” to quote Neil Sedaka. It was fun to write and I can share it in the fall when it comes out. It is “embargoed” until then which I think is hilarious but was part of the contract for my “volunteer writing”!? It’s a humor piece, so at least there will be giggling at the water cooler, or at least I hope for that!

May you be chuckling this summer, delighted in the weather, content with the privilege it is to work with donors, and your, uh, gift totals!

Thinking 20/20 for the New Year

I should come up with a clever newsletter name, but I’m resting on my “git ‘er done” tenet and just sending a simple update to folks to begin the new year. I hope 2015 is off to a good start for you!

I’m looking forward to February’s WVDO conference where I’m presenting on “When and How to Stop Cultivating Donors,” a 90-minute session for fundraisers about how to focus your donor moves and actions with prospects who have the best chance for a major gift and say a thoughtful and gracious “goodbye” when it’s best to stop cultivating a prospect. This will be an interactive session with case studies. Together with my other passions for stewardship, creative cultivation and asking for a bequest, this is one of those areas about which I spout, both with experience and, I hope, humor.  And, in this case, I threw in a little music since “breaking up is hard to do!” lalala.

Thought to Ponder: I’ve been thinking 20/20 in the new year, trying to get a sense of balance and a flatter stomach, not to mention coping with my progressive lenses. I’ve found it refreshing and motivating to think of life in 20s, as in 20 minutes of cleaning a day, 20 minutes of sustained exercise, 20 days between dates with my husband, 20 minutes of yoga several times a week, 20 good outfits instead of a closet crammed with things I don’t wear. At least I can think of myself as “visionary”! (Please say you ‘get it’!?)

I hope you are thinking ahead to a good year too! Have a good Q1; let me know if I can help your organization with a presentation or coaching later in the spring (I’m teaching in WVDO’s PSU certification program beginning February 2 for three months, in between presentations in January and February and coaching some awesome up-and-coming fundraisers!).