[NPFX Ep. 53] Meaningful Donor Relationships: The Key to Financial Stability (with Lisa Greer and Sami Zoss)

donor retention financial stability nonprofit fundraising nonprofit strategy podcast

Welcome to The Nonprofit Fundraising Exchange, a podcast from IPM Advancement. Our mission is to empower nonprofits to succeed so they can make the world a better place.

Today’s topic: Meaningful Donor Relationships — The Key to Financial Stability (with Lisa Greer and Sami Zoss)

Good donor relationships where supporters are engaged and satisfied with giving to your nonprofit can have a profound effect on the success of your organization. More than just ensuring financial support, meaningful relationships with donors foster trust, loyalty, and a sense of shared purpose. In today's episode, we will discuss common stewardship mistakes, how to better understand the experience of the donor, and strategies you can use to elevate your nonprofit's engagement with donors and forge stronger bonds.

Time-Stamped Episode Shortcuts

  • Topic and guest introductions [1:01]
  • Lisa Greer's story [2:13]
  • Why we need a "philanthropy revolution" [6:22]
  • Sami Zoss's story [9:04]
  • What it means for donors to be partners with nonprofits [15:52]
  • Fundraisers take their direction from leaders and boards [19:31]
  • Internal systems that impede donor relationships [29:01]
  • Donors are human beings; and "invisible" donors [31:30]
  • The value of stories of impact [35:40]
  • Advice for creating more meaningful donor relationships; common assumptions that hurt relationships [37:38]
  • Making smaller dollar donors feel like they matter [44:02]

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Lisa Zola Greer and her husband Josh experienced a transformative life change in 2012 as they became members, almost overnight, of the 1%, sparking a desire to share their new wealth with compelling charitable causes. As newcomers to the world of charitable giving, they found themselves frustrated and shocked by the impersonal interactions, scripted engagements, and dated methods pervasive in the nonprofit sector. After several years studying the sector, continually experiencing the same issues, and recognizing that millions of donors shared the same negative experience with giving, Lisa decided to promote fundamental change in how fundraising is done by teaching nonprofits how to do better. Today, Lisa writes, teaches, and advises fundraisers on incorporating the donor perspective into all their fundraising activities. As a fundraising coach, nonprofit changemaker, major donor, and author of the bestselling book Philanthropy Revolution, Lisa is on a mission to "Save Giving." Her second book, The Fundraiser's Handbook, will be released in 2024. Between her books, her teaching, and her highly successful blog, Philanthropy 451, Lisa helps nonprofits see a clear path to sustainable and long-term success.

Sami Zoss, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer for DSU Foundation, is a passionate nonprofit leader who likes to make lasting connections and perpetuate worthwhile causes. With an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Miami University, Sami has given her time and talent to several organizations including Camp Gilbert Inc., a volunteer-led, not-for-profit company supporting a one-week summer camp for children in the South Dakota area living with Type 1 diabetes. Her professional expertise lies in stewardship, alumni and donor relations, and external engagement.


Russ Phaneuf, a co-founder of IPM Advancement, has a background in higher education development, with positions at the University of Hartford, Northern Arizona University, and Thunderbird School of Global Management. As IPM's managing director & chief strategist, Russ serves as lead fundraising strategist, award-winning content creator, and program analyst specializing in applied system dynamics.

Rich Frazier has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years. In his role as senior consultant with IPM Advancement, Rich offers extensive understanding and knowledge in major gifts program management, fund development, strategic planning, and board of directors development.


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