From the Mountain top

CJP Advisors, Newsletter #3

June 5, 2024

Tools to help your Board Members become top fundraisers!


In my first newsletter I encouraged even small nonprofits to move away from focusing so exclusively on gifts from cash and educate themselves about tools and techniques to receive donor gifts from assets of wealth.


Recently, during discussions with clients, I’ve realized that this recommendation is difficult for many small nonprofit cultures to put into action. There is an intermediary philosophical step that could improve your progress to gifts from assets. I call this philosophy, “Collaborative Curiosity.”


We want the best for our friends.

We have courageous, kind and thoughtful discussions to help each other resolve challenges.

This sums up the philosophy and fundamental approach of a Collaboratively Curious conversation between two people who are supporters of the nonprofit.


I’ve found this approach to be a valued litmus test for accountability; a bellwether for financial stability; a discoverable sensibility during board recruitment and staffing interviews.


Collaborative Curiosity is at the core of my trainings for helping board members and nonprofit leaders become more successful, and I believe the practice of Collaborative Curiosity is essential to interrupting the unsustainable “Treading Water,” philosophy. Below I am going to attempt to share with you, dear reader, the essence of my philosophical approach.



“Treading Water” vs “Collaborative Curiosity”


Have you ever had to tread water for a long time? It’s exhausting. You can only hold up one person – yourself. Sometimes, the person is so frantic, they don’t realize a solution is nearby.


“Treading Water" 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊😩

Here’s the typical “Treading Water,” nonprofit mind-set that undermines so many organizations with missions to house the poor and underpaid, educate and protect our children, rescue abused animals, and expand our hearts and souls with the arts (just to name a few):

·      “Not-for-profit” means every cent of our fundraising goes to the current year’s programming; future investment is not part of our planning.

·      We accept the premise of overworked, underpaid staff who sacrifice financial health and security for the mission.

·      Funding programs with donors’ dollars is acceptable, but funding operations (staff) is not fundamental to the mission.

·      Gifts from cash are easy to understand. We are frightened and afraid to make a mistake with a gift from a more complicated asset, so we do not talk about them.

·      Receiving gifts with donor instructions is way too much to manage.

·      We are terrified of not knowing the answer to a donor’s question.


If this sounds harsh and your backbone has tensed up, then please dear reader, please stay with me.  Too many nonprofits are doing important but unsustainable work guided by the “Treading Water,” philosophy.


“Collaborative Curiosity" 💁🪨🏊🪵🧑‍🏫🐬👍

Now imagine you are in the water with curiosity guiding you instead of fear of the water. You duck below and discover that only five feet away is a nice rock to stand on. A person nearby, spies a floating log and brings it over for both of you to share. A third person befriends a dolphin who lets you all hold on as it swims all of you safely to shore. Sound improbable? As long as you are splashing wildly churning up water that blinds you, any other solutions are hidden.


Here is the ambitious and rare culture and philosophy of a sustainable nonprofit guided by Collaborative Curiosity:

Why is a Collaborative Curiosity philosophy so rare, and why does it sound so out of grasp? Because Collaborative Curiosity requires investment from your entire organization, especially your board leadership.


One of the most essential activities that results from a Collaborative Curiosity philosophy is purposeful conversations between your board members, and your donors.😱

It is interesting to me that this is also the activity that strikes fear in most board members.


“What would I say?” the board member asks.


Imagine, the board member and the donor both share enough of a passion to support the same nonprofit. Why would they not find common ground in a conversation? I promise, there is much to be gained in these donor/board member conversations. The key is, approaching with them with a Collaborative Curiosity philosophy.


Below are a few tools to help your board members feel more comfortable with this philosophy and the crucial activity of them having conversations with your donors. Feel free to print them out or share this blog with your entire board!


Three words I use to describe the Collaboratively Curious conversation:



The relaxing way to engage a stranger.



The best way to keep the conversation going, and to increase trust in one another.



Most importantly, this board member will continue the relationship,

 on behalf of the nonprofit and the donor.


10 Reasons for a Board Member to call a donor:


10 Rules of Thumb for a “Collaboratively Curious” conversation.


The “Tool Kit”: Empowering the Board Member to make the call.

The board member should be given a “Tool Kit”, prepared by staff or a key volunteer team, to have in front of them during their call with a donor.


Here is my suggested list to have at hand:

A.       Donor Profile:

B.       Organizational Information:

C.      Organizational Financial details:


I hope this helped you. Please feel free to print or forward this blog to your development team, or your development board committee.


As with all my recommendations, review these tools to make sure they are right for you and get the necessary approvals from your board and leadership before implementing!


I am here to help you!


Your biggest advocate 

CJP Advisors, Newsletter #2

May 2, 2024

Hello beautiful philanthropy world!

I’m on my way to Los Angeles, after two great weeks in Austin, Texas. Purpose for all this fun? Time with family and friends, plus a couple of exciting philanthropy meetings. I begin this newsletter with a couple of tips for nonprofits and fundraisers, ending with advice for well-intentioned donors who might be feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders. 

Let's talk Asses and Pachyderms 🐘 🫏

How will the 2024 United States presidential election season affect nonprofit fundraising? You might think the noise of a presidential race would drown out your nonprofit’s pleas for support. Studies show that election years are a great time to fundraise. 🥳 🇺🇲 US donors open their wallets wider during election cycles, especially politically active millennials.

Findings from the Blackbaud Institute, CCS Fundraising, reveal that in most election years, donors give more to their philanthropies of choice. It was also revealed that a particular group of donors gave more than any of the other group in the studies. Who was this generous-minded group of donors? 

Election year fundraising tips: 

Nonprofit Website Tip of the Month: 

Please prominently and regularly display your nonprofit EIN number on your website!

The EIN number is the “Employer Identification Number” assigned by the IRS at the time of the charity's approval of formation. Think of it as your charity’s social security number. Providing it to donors makes it much easier for them to verify you are a legitimate charity and the number is often required for many financial transactions.

These days, donors can easily make large online donations when the mood strikes them by electronically transferring gifts from stock, a Donor Advised Fund, an IRA or a Qualified Charitable Distribution to their charity of choice. They can make these sizable gifts only if they have the correct EIN number for your charitable organization. 

Statistically speaking, gifts from these sources are 

many times larger 

than gifts from cash.

Actions to take immediately, and correctly display your EIN number:

From the Mountaintop - A Donor’s Focus Statement

This month I am visiting my mother in Texas. She received 25 appeals within the first two days of my visit. Was it a floodgate triggered by some special event? Nope. She said this is constant. 

She received three book marks, nickels, dimes, a silver fifty cent piece and three crisp dollar bills, a promise of a “free” copy of the Episcopal Church’s Musician’s Handbook, and offers of high quality insulated tote bags from Ocean Conservancy. And the calendars, oh my, the calendars. In this day of cell phones, Really??  Admittedly the one urging “Save the donkeys,” was very cute. 

Besides being a staggering waste of paper and postage, messages were hopelessly repetitious. For all you donors out there feeling bludgeoned by this paper-mill pursuit of your dollars, I’m sharing the tips I shared with my own mother.

First, Aggressively Reduce this Mess

Take the time to get yourself removed from these nonprofit mailing lists. It takes a little effort but is probably worthwhile: 

Second, take time to create your “Donor’s Focus”

We often read the charity’s Mission Statement before we decide to make a donation. I challenge donors to write their own mission statement by creating a “Donor’s Focus” statement. (I have a work sheet for this exercise. See my email at the bottom of this newsletter if you would like me to send it to you.)

Why should you bother to create your own statement of Donor Focus? Well, I have a secret to tell you…

You cannot solve every problem.

Sorry if that distresses you, but it's the truth.

You are one human being.

Not even MacKenzie Scott can solve all the world’s problems.

Neither can you, so give yourself a break.

There has always been the conflict between helping as many as possible, versus helping a few, generously and deeply. This is why defining your focus is so important. The fact is, we fundraisers and nonprofit experts attend classes and conferences just to figure out how to convince you to open your wallet. Knowing this, it is your job to get and stay focused. This is not cold and insensitive. This is what I call staying true to you and becoming a more effective donor. 💰💰💰💰💰

Exercises for Creating Your “Donor’s Focus” Statement.

Take a week or a month to deeply explore your responses to this question.

2. Draft your Donor's Focus Statement. Now that you have done all this writing, take another week or two to distill all this work into a sentence or two. The goal is to end up with your clarifying statement of Donor’s Focus. It might take you a few times. Keep working. Read it out loud to yourself. Put it down for a day and then read it out loud the next morning. How does it sound? Keep working.

When you think you are close, read your Donor’s Focus to a close friend. Ask them, did they understand your goal? It is fine if the goal is not achievable in your lifetime. That is up to you. But is your goal well-defined? Once you feel satisfied, move on to step 3.

3. Research the charities working within your Donor’s Focus

Before you give a single gift, make a list of charities whose missions and accomplishments align with what you have discovered about yourself, during your exercise to Narrow Your Lane.

Once you have found a short list of charities that align with your goals, think about what you might accomplish with each of those charities if you were to begin your own long-term giving campaign.

You are one human being.

And now, you are beginning to realize the change you could affect in one small but very meaningful way.

You could make a small and real change happen with your Donor’s Focus.

4. Decide the one-to-three charities you want to focus on. 

I have served as a director at three nonprofit organizations. I can verifiably say, if I had a donor reach out to me to tell me how they wanted to receive their communications, and ask me a question they hoped I could answer, trust me, I would be grateful. I would listen and I would answer this donor. And, if I had a donor give me $25 for 10 years, I would take that donor over another donor who gave me one donation of $500. 

I LOVE long-term relationships. 🥰🥰

Because long-term relationships are mutual and have the chance to grow with one another. This goes for philanthropy as well. 🌍💝🌎🫶🌏💗

Final take away.

If you take up the “Donor’s Focus” challenge and a charity asks you for a donation, you have full right to say, “Thank you for doing what you do to make the world a better place. I applaud you for your efforts and appreciate you telling me about your services. That is not my focus of my own charitable giving, but I will keep it in mind to tell a few friends about you.”

If you are a donor who received this email from your charity of choice, congratulations! 

I have created a “Donor’s Focus” worksheet and would be happy to send directly to you. (No charge; it is something I did for my mother.) I won't keep you on my email list unless you request. For the “Donor’s Focus” worksheet or any more questions I can be reached at 

As with all my recommendations, review these tools to make sure they are right for you and get the necessary approvals from your board and leadership before implementing!


Keep making the world wonderful!


Your biggest advocate 

CJP Advisors, Newsletter #1

April 2, 2024


Good morning Roaring Fork Valley and nonprofits beyond!

It is April 2, 2024, and this is my first newsletter.

It is a beautiful morning. Why?


The Roaring Fork Valley and Colorado are abundant in nonprofits; by some counts, there are more than 300 nonprofits between Aspen and Grand Junction.

Is this a good thing? Are there too many? I don’t think there are too many nonprofits – there is plenty of important work to go around for all the charities and I am regularly astonished at the great work being done! 

However, I do think there are too many nonprofits that could make even bigger impact. Why? Because their fundraising is inefficient, and inefficient fundraising results in lower impact.


My observations have shown me that many nonprofits here still focus their fundraising from two sources:

1.        Cash

2.        Grants from government entities


Few nonprofits fundraise with a focus on the individual donors’ point of view! It’s as if charities are scared of talking to people! Are you?

What is the donor’s point of view?

Give them metrics to understand how their donation will make impact.

Then – and this is the kicker – report back to the individual donor with metrics, how their donation did make impact!

Stay up-to-date and inform donors about financial vehicles are strategically beneficial to them and the charity for making gifts.

Cash is not king. Only 8% of our country’s wealth is tied up in cash. And yet, almost every single charity here in the RFV has their website donation page focused only on cash gifts via online credit card payments. I’ve done my research and its frightening. Big gifts are being missed!


More than 90% of wealth in the United States is tied up in assets such as land, our homes, stocks, bonds, crypto, IRAs and other assets.


Help your donors! 

If you do not clarify in your charity’s literature and website that you can receive these gifts from assets, and provide them details about how your donors can make these gifts, your charity will not receive gifts from wealth.


Why would a donor want to give from their wealth? 

When their assets gain in value, the gains can be wonderful to the holder, and they can also be a burden.

Why a burden? 

Because capital gain is taxable according to the tax rate of the individual.

But it’s complex. Why should a charity dip its toes into explaining stuff about taxes to wealthy people? Shouldn’t wealthy people know these things?

Yes, they should. But many times they don’t.

Wealth is a mindset. Some people who have capacity still do not think of themselves as wealthy and so they do not think in terms of giving their hard-earned wealth away. As well, financial advisors are not paid to help their clients think in charitable terms; their goal is to preserve and increase the wealth of their client's estate. If the client doesn’t mention, “Hey, I’d also like to be charitable with my wealth planning,” then the financial planner might not be motivated to mix charity into the planning. But from the estate owner’s perspective, this could be unfortunate because sometimes being charitable could benefit both them and the estate owner's heirs. (More on this in later newsletters.)

Okay, so how would talking about gifts from assets really benefit my charity?

You probably know that a charity does not pay tax on capital gains.

So, here is an example for you:

If the donor gave the charity an asset such as stock or crypto that increased in value, the donor would pay no capital gains and get a deduction for the value of that gift. Great!

But it gets better...the donor could turn around and use the cash they would have used to make the donation, to buy back the stock that they gifted to the charity, only at a higher base point, erasing their original capital gains. Because the asset was gifted to the charity and the charity was the one selling the asset, the donor was not involved in a wash-sale and can buy back their stock.

Hmmmm. Starting to get my point?


This is just one jewel of a tool that charities should get used to talking about with their donors. Each month, in my newsletter, I plan on featuring a gift-giving vehicle that I feel could benefit donors and nonprofits.


The United States has the most complex tax system in the world. But these complex rules allow a donor’s gift to be both be charitable and reduce the tax bill burden. If you dive into the details, some of these rules are not so complex. No other country facilitates giving the way the USA does. We should work to understand the tools this system offers us.


Note: I do not benefit from any of the tools I recommend on my website. I have learned about them and feel they could help nonprofits do a better job for their donors and their missions. It is up to you to review these tools and make an informed decision.

Tools I like that I think you should learn about.


These are widgets you can add to your website to allow donors to give stocks and gifts from Donor Advised Funds, straight to your charity’s accounts.

Stock Donator

Donate Stock



These are suites of tools that you can add to your website to allow donors to do everything from write their own will, to making planned gifts to a charity, to making quicker-turnaround gifts with assets that have capital gains.

FreeWill (Smart Giving Suite and Planned Giving Suite)

Giving Docs


As with all my recommendations, review these tools to make sure they are right for you and get the necessary approvals from your board and leadership before implementing!


Keep making the world wonderful!


Your biggest advocate