Jerry Smith at the 2012 Bridge Conference in Washington DC speaking


50 Things I’ve Learned in 14,000 Days in Fund-Raising*

Capital campaigns begin with big, bold, exciting ideas, which is the birth place of all successful fundraising. Bringing these ideas to fruition, however, takes planning, preparation and, of course, hard work.

Veteran fund-raising consultant, Jerry F. Smith, shares the fundamental elements of fund-raising learned from 10,000 days on the job. Profound in their simplicity, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of these yourself. Jerry’s development training will help your local members turn big, bold, exciting ideas into reality!

*This topic is typically used in 2 ½ – 3 hour session but can be edited to “20 Things” for hour-long sessions.


Trends in Fund-Raising:  What’s In, What’s Out

The 21st century donor is not the same as the 20th century donor. Donors today are much more savvy and involved, and need a slightly different approach. Above and beyond our changing communication, from direct mail to electronic mail, today’s fund-raiser needs to be a facilitator. This presentation will discuss current trends in fund-raising. Learn how you can address the current needs and opportunities within your prospective donor constituency.


Rules of the Road to Success

Get on the super-highway to achievement with this discussion of how to successfully compete in today’s congested fund-raising traffic. How can you speed by other fund-raisers to fund the opportunities within your organization? Based on Jerry F. Smith’s recent book, Fund-Raising: Rules of the Road to Success, this presentation will map out critical directions to effectively and efficiently guide you toward success both personally and professionally.


SuCCCess is Spelled with 3 C’s: Contact, Cultivate, and Close

Learn to maximize your fund-raising efforts with these three simple steps. Find out successful ways to find and contact potential donors; cultivate their interest in your school; and close a prospect, making him or her a donor.


The Anatomy of a Feasibility Study

There are no shortcuts in fund-raising and a nonprofit organization cannot afford to fail. Feasibility studies are vital to the success of any major gift or capital campaign. This presentation will discuss the importance of a feasibility study and how it benefits an organization not only as they embark on a campaign, but as a way to find out how the constituency feels about the performance of the organization in general.


Cultivating and Sustaining an Annual Fund

Learn the steps to planning, implementing, and sustaining an annual fund program in your organization. This presentation will offer practical, pithy advice based on the J.F. Smith Group’s 25-year track record. It doesn’t get any easier than this.


Capital Campaigns are Easy if You Do Your Homework

A capital campaign consists of four phases: the planning phase; the leadership phase; the public phase; and the follow-up phase. This session will walk attendees through each phase, highlighting critical steps and key action items.


Basic Principles of Fund-Raising

To be successful in fund-raising you need to understand and learn the basic principles. During this session I will detail, what I consider, the 12 basic principles in fund-raising. I have created a formula for success in fund-raising: BP + CS x E = S, meaning Basic Principles plus Common Sense times Effort equals SUCCESS! If you want to be successful in fund-raising, learn the basic principles, apply your common sense and multiply it by some effort.


Myths of Fund-Raising

While raising money, unproved practices or false beliefs can steer a fund-raiser down the wrong path. In this presentation, participants will learn the truths behind some common misperceptions in fund-raising, increasing their ability to be productive for your foundation.


The Board’s Role in Fund-Raising: FOCUSED

In most organizations, board members are often the leaders of a project, the decision-makers. As a result, it is vital that board members stay on track and stay focused on the project(s) at hand. As a development officer, it is your responsibility to ensure this happens. This short presentation will provide tips to stay FOCUSED.


The Christian School Board’s Role in Fund-Raising

Board members of a Christian school must take a leadership role in a school’s fund-raising efforts. This presentation discusses the rationale for that leadership role, the reasons why board-led development efforts are successful, and the role of the board in the annual fund and capital campaign programs.


Why Do We Need to Conduct a Feasibility Study?

There are no shortcuts in fund-raising, and a non-profit organization cannot afford to fail. Feasibility studies are vital to the success of any major gift or capital campaign. This presentation will discuss the importance of a feasibility study and how it benefits an organization, not only as they embark on a campaign, but as a way to find out how the constituency feels about the performance of the organization in general.


The Top 10 Familiar Faults in Fund-Raising

This presentation looks at the most common reasons fund-raising efforts fail and how to conquer them.


Expect To Win: Plan, Prepare, Produce

To be successful in a capital campaign you have to expect to win.  But it takes more than a positive attitude to be successful in fund-raising.  Each of the three “P’s” makes up an important piece of the fund-raising puzzle.  You must plan, prepare, and ultimately produce.  Plan: Learn about the structure that needs to be in place before beginning a campaign, the importance of clarifying your mission and projects as well as a clean database.  Prepare: Hear about the importance of a feasibility study, the five I’s in donor cultivation and the things you need to be accomplishing to acquire an ask amount.  Produce: You’ll learn a proven 5 step approach to solicitations, the importance of follow-up and finally, some comments from some great givers and why they give.


Expect to Win: Securing Major Gifts

To secure major gifts and be successful in a capital campaign, you have to expect to win. But it takes more than a positive attitude to be successful in fundraising. This presentation will take you through 3 “P’s” to show you how to succeed. You will learn how to plan, prepare, and produce. Plan: Learn about the structure that needs to be in place and how to identify your leadership prospects. Prepare: Hear about the five I’s in donor cultivation and the things you need to be accomplishing to acquire an ask amount. Produce: You’ll learn a proven 5 step approach to solicitations, and the importance of stewardship.


Plan for Success, Price of Success, and Path to Success

Fund-raisers always ask me how to be successful in fund-raising. I’ve found that while many in fund-raising focus on the end results, few spend the time they need on the path to get there. This session will focus on exactly that – what it takes to successfully navigate the path of fund-raising. First, you must PLAN for success, a step that starts with a strong strategic plan. Next, consider the PRICE of success. Investing in your staff and infrastructure, contacting and cultivating relationships, and using the results of your feasibility study appropriately are equally important. finally, you are ready to pursue the PATH to success, which involves intentional contact with your constituency, as well as reporting to accurately track your progress. This session will thoroughly cover SUCCESS in fund-raising, from beginning to end.


Expect to Close: And Keep the Door Open

“Closing” a donor doesn’t occur when you make the ask and get a signed pledge card; it begins the very first time you meet. In this session, participants will learn the 3:5:5 plan, which includes valuable insight into the various steps of closing. This includes the 3 C’s (contact, cultivate, close), the 5 steps in solicitation, and the 5 touches of stewardship. Participants will learn how to “keep the door open” after a gift is made, to ensure the future support of donors.

What our Clients are saying…

  • We are very proud of our initial success in the capital campaign at Houston Academy. Hiring the JF Smith group as our advisor was easily one of the best decisions we made. Their knowledge of the market of donors and the best practices of running a campaign has resulted in a very efficient and effective first year. We have already begun construction on the lower school with plans on it being ready by fall. I don’t see how we would’ve progressed this far without their guidance. We are very excited about year two of the project and what it will bring for all of the wonderful families at Houston Academy.”

    Reid Dove
    Campaign Chair, Houston Academy
  • Dear Jerry,

    Many thanks for working with us during our staff training exercises in the past several weeks. Quite frankly, I was somewhat skeptical of this method using virtual meetings through Microsoft “Teams” software for our training. Particularly since we have had so many productive training sessions in person over the years.

    I must say, after visiting with my staff, we all agreed the meetings were very productive and informative.

    This is certainly an unprecedented time in the fund raising world and we are making the best of it with the phone and technology.

    Thank you for making yourself available for these types of training meetings and as always for your guidance.



    Dan G. Grigg

    Vice President for Institutional Advancement



    The Virtual Training Was Great! Thank You!
  • “The Food Bank of East Alabama approached its first Capital Campaign with a great deal of trepidation.  From our very first meeting with Jerry Smith and the members of his team, we found that their wide experience, professionalism, rigorous attention to detail, and ability to truly understand our organization’s needs gave us the confidence to undertake this campaign.  They have provided guidance each step of the way and helped us resolve questions and issues.  The campaign materials they produced are attractive with a very professional look and present a wonderful “face” to the community. We are confident that this effort will be a successful one and they assure us they will celebrate with us at its conclusion!”

    Martha Hank
    Executive Director Food Bank of East Alabama
  • “We’re a small shop with a statewide reach!  The J.F. Smith Group understood our needs and made recommendations on how best to achieve our goal of ‘testing the philanthropic waters.’  Our board was pleased with the thorough findings of the feasibility study, and we’ve taken the results from the study and are currently in the Leadership Phase of a capital campaign!”

    Seth Tuttle
    Development Officer Alabama 4-H Foundation
  • “Acadian Baptist Center has partnered with the J.F. Smith Group for two capital campaigns.  Our first campaign raised $2 million – and the second is currently at $2.45 million and still counting!  A 1,000-seat Worship Center is currently under construction and will be ready for use by the Summer of 2020. We couldn’t have done it with JFSG!”

    James Newson
    Camp Director Acadian Baptist Center
  • “We expected to accomplish a lot with our capital campaign, but one thing we did not expect was that our capacity for meaningful relationships with our families would increase so markedly.  The J.F. Smith Group delivered on their proven strategy to help us not just succeed in reaching our campaign’s financial goals, but also in establishing a fresh culture of productive relationships with our families and other constituents.  It’s great to build the Kingdom by building relationships, and the J.F. Smith Group is helping us do that.”

    Rick Yost
    Superintendent, Fredericksburg Christian School
  • “One thing I’ve learned is that institutions, over time, become the extended shadow of their leader. Jerry F. Smith is the consummate professional in fund-raising. He has many, many years of experience, and he’s learned a lot of valuable lessons that make him, and his organization, the best there is.  We have partnered with JFSG for two successful campaigns.”

    Jerry Reeder
    Headmaster, Whitesburg Christian Academy
  • “The J. F. Smith Group has been great to work with!  They conducted a very thorough and accurate feasibility study, leading us to an appropriate financial goal for our capital campaign.  They have a very well thought out process that led us to success in our campaign efforts, during which we raised over $10.3 million!  They have been at this for a long time and have a stellar record in helping schools reach their goals.  I can think of no better partner when undertaking something as significant as a capital campaign.”

    Todd Clingman
    Head of School, North Cobb Christian School
  • “Jerry has built a tremendous team. This experienced group of advancement professionals proved themselves to be extremely knowledgeable, and they worked tirelessly with our staff and board to raise the expectations of what was possible. The quality of Jerry’s training has been key to our fund-raising strategy.”

    John Crawford
    Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Valdosta State University
  • “I have worked closely with Jerry Smith and the J.F. Smith Group for over seven years (and two campaigns), and I have found their services and expertise to be invaluable. Jerry and his team are incredibly responsive and goal oriented.  They do a tremendous job building a blueprint for success and have assisted us in reaching our goals by training staff and monitoring the progress of every aspect of our fund-raising efforts.  I highly recommend the J.F. Smith Group to any organization!”

    Dan Grigg
    Vice President for Advancement, Indiana Institute of Technology
  • “To the J. F. Smith Group:  Wow, Wow, Wow!  You are the third campaign counsel I have worked with, and you are leaving the other folks in the dust in terms of task-readiness, tools for success, and your staffing model.  I can assure you this level of campaign counsel is far beyond the industry standard.  If we follow the plan, we will be postured for smashing success in SAU’s first comprehensive campaign.  This campaign is truly deepening and furthering the reach of our beloved school; this is very exciting!”

    Katherine Simms Berry
    Senior Advisor to Institutional Advancement, Southern Arkansas University
  • “Our partnership with the J.F. Smith Group truly changed the game for South Carolina State University Athletics fund-raising and exceeded all of our expectations.  The exceptional services, strategic guidance and professional advice that we received not only allowed us to launch the first ever athletics major gift initiative in the history of the university, they allowed us to exceed our working goal of $1.78M and our vision goal of $2M.”

    Stacy L. Danley, II
    Director of Athletics, South Carolina State University

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