The Importance of Planning

Jul 16, 2021

As a fundraiser, you know how to do your job. And you’re getting some results. But do you ever stop and think: ‘Can I be doing better?’

It’s a common thought among fundraisers. It’s what we do and it’s who we are. Especially when there are so many things your organization could be doing better if you had more funding.

Sometimes, we’re so deep in the weeds of our day to day that it’s difficult to then pull up to look at the whole fundraising house from the required 60,000 feet. 

But that’s where we need to go if we’re going to make the changes required to get better results.

So why pull up to view everything that you’re doing when you know what needs changing?


  • We make one or two changes that can help in the short term...but don’t make any long-term impacts
  • We don’t have time to look at the strategy because our to do lists are long
  • We know in our heads what needs to change but...
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Why You Need a Fundraising Plan

Feb 18, 2021

By Cathy Mann, MA, CFRE

The pandemic has kicked 
your butt.

It’s ok to admit it.A lot of us feel that way.

But despite how you feel, you still have to raise money for your important mission.And sometimes it feels overwhelming.  

Today I want to talk to you about your fundraising plan 

Foundation and government grants, special events, direct mail, corporate giving, planned giving, volunteers, your data…the list goes on.  

So how do you bring everything together? 

You plan. 

So let me walk you through the importance of planning and what it can do for you. 

1. Developing a good plan:

Sitting down to develop a good plan can be quite an undertaking. Planning takes time. And thoughtfulness. And perseverance. And you need to have different strengths:  

You need to be an investigator 

You need to be detailed oriented

You need to see the big picture

You need to be ...

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5 Online Donation Form Best Practices

Dec 15, 2020

We’ve been talking a lot about how to fundraise throughout this year's giving season, but what happens once a donor reaches your website and wants to make a donation? Do you have an online donation page that is easily accessible and quick to complete?

Online giving is growing at three times the rate of overall giving, so it’s really important to make sure that your online giving game is on point. You don’t want to put in all the work to steward your donors, only to lose them at the final click. So, here are five easy tips to enhancing your online giving forms: 

Tip 1: Accessibility and Action

Research shows that people will leave your website within 10-20 seconds if they don’t find the information they are looking for. Make it easy for supporters to find your donation form by ensuring you have an attention-grabbing “donate now” button in your website header, visible on every page of your site.

Once potential donors click through to your...

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28 Fundraisers Share How They're Maintaining Their Optimism Quotient

Nov 25, 2020

By Cathy Mann, MA, CFRE

In the car driving around Nova Scotia, just a few months after returning to live here, I got to thinking about optimism. Maybe it was the beauty I was surrounded by that led me there, but it stuck in my head and when I got to where I was going, I sat down and wrote a blog post about it. 

Then I got to thinking that I should ask my LinkedIn peeps what keeps their OQ (Optimism Quotient) fueled. So, I did. And they did not disappoint.

I wanted to share some of the answers that stuck out for me. Almost everyone had multiple ways they recharged their Optimism Quotient, so I have highlighted just a few of the ideas shared and somewhat arbitrarily put them into a few categories.

Before I get there, I want to talk about the difference between staying positive and being optimistic.  Paul Nazareth wrote in response to my question, “I struggle with staying positive.” It might be semantics – maybe I’m just splitting hairs over similar...

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How to Stay Optimistic as a Fundraiser

Nov 12, 2020

By Cathy Mann, MA, CFRE


Our stock in trade as fundraisers is optimism.

When I was Academic Coordinator at Ryerson University's Fundraising Management Program, I was invited to speak at a panel each year for the Intro to Fundraising students. The question that the instructor asked every year was: what is one word you would use to describe fundraisers. I always hoped I could go first so I could answer what I answered every year: curious. Because I do think we need to be curious if we are going to succeed at this inspirational, frustrating, awe-inspiring, flawed, and just plain “put your nose to the grindstone to get ‘er done” profession that I am proud to be part of.  But this year, if I was invited to speak on the panel and was asked this question, I think I’d have a new word that I’d share: optimistic.

Who else would enthusiastically throw themselves into a job where you reach out to people every year to ask them to support you in exchange...

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How to Spark Digital Engagement this Holiday Giving Season

Oct 07, 2020

Fall is here! Time for pumpkin spice everything, beautiful orange and red trees and holiday fundraising! Yes, it is that time of the year again – time to get ready for your holiday appeal. Do you have a holiday campaign strategy in place? And if so, what is the role that digital media plays in your campaign?

If you’re not planning a digital element to your campaign, you might want to reconsider. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has forced us all to evaluate our digital landscape, or to go digital for the first time!

Despite restrictions lifting in many locations, it is evident that digital is here to stay and will be playing a big part in fundraising going forward, as highlighted by the below statistics. Since onset of the pandemic:

  • There has been a 12% increase in people listening to podcasts
  • A 51% increase in content streaming
  • 44% of people are spending more time on social media
  • 67% of people watch more news via the internet, and, most importantly,
  • ...
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Building Donor Trust in the Pandemic

Sep 24, 2020

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this year has been challenging. No matter where you live, your life has likely been affected either directly or by the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the charitable sector, this has been an especially difficult time as we face billions of dollars in lost revenue, disruptions to service delivery and mass lay-offs. All new challenges to a sector where the long-standing social issues we work towards have yet to be addressed.  

If you’re responsible for raising money for a charity, has the COVID-19 crisis put your fundraising plans on hold? Have you been reluctant to reach out to your donors as you adjust to the ‘new normal’?

While we are all tired of living in unprecedented times, the COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity to deepen your existing donor relationships. Here are three reasons why you should be engaging with your donors right now.  

1. They don’t live under rocks:

  • We...
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Expanding the Fundraising Lab!

Aug 31, 2020

I started the Fundraising Lab in the fall of 2019 as an addition to my consulting business, Cathy Mann & Associates, as a way to offer affordable digital fundraising courses.

The past year of building the Fundraising Lab alongside my work with Cathy Mann & Associates has changed the way I think about the fundraising consulting space.

I started my consulting practice 13 years ago to help social change charities raise more money to serve their important missions.

Today, the Fundraising Lab is the new iteration of that commitment to the sector.

The Fundraising Lab will now be offering customized consulting for groups or individuals interested in high touch-point, personalized support. By combining our online learning platform with 1:1 consulting, we will be able to support more groups and individuals wherever they are on their fundraising learning journey. AND I'm doing this all with an incredible, growing team!

After 13 years in the trenches, I’ve worked with...

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Finding a Sponsor | Tip of the Morning to You!

Aug 13, 2020

Tip of the Morning to You!

Cathy here, president of the Fundraising Lab. Today's tip is for those at Step 2 of their fundraising journey, which I refer to as "Building the Plane While Flying It". You’ve been at it for a while now and have learned a lot, but you may be a bit overwhelmed. And as always, you still have to raise more money.

Tip #6 is to to find sponsors, not just mentors. Credit where credit is due. I heard about this notion from Lacey Kempinski, who was interviewing Megan Tregunno, who credits Colleen Moorehead with this concept. She said it succinctly: mentors talk to you. Sponsors talk to AND about you.

Sponsors chat you up to their networks. They help you be seen and acknowledged in your community. But their reputation becomes linked to your reputation if they are chatting you up to others in the community. So, honour the trust they have placed in you by delivering.

Want more fundraising tips to help you succeed at every...

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Volunteer | Tip of the Morning to You

Aug 06, 2020

Welcome to “Tip of the Morning, to you!” where Cathy shares a quick tip about the Fundraiser’s 4-step Learning and Action Journey. The journey is a common path that fundraisers follow as they move through their careers.

Step 2 of the journey is called "Building the Plane While Flying It." You’ve been at it for a while now and have learned so much. In fact, you might a bit overwhelmed. There is so much to do and still you have TO RAISE MONEY! You’re keen to learn even more.

Tip #5: VOLUNTEER. Cathy can’t state this enough. When you’re able to, volunteering will add an important perspective to your work. You can learn so much from sitting on a board. Cathy came to understand some board/staff dynamics in a different way as a result of finally seeing both sides of the equation. And volunteering with groups you feel passionate about can feed your soul and keep you connected to your passion: social change and the power of communities.

Want to...

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