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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

“Half the Money You Spend is Wasted”


John Wanamaker, the 19th Century department store magnate, supposedly observed, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

After 36 years in this sector and more than 25 years of consulting, coaching and training… I believe the same thing applies to development and fundraising.

“HALF THE MONEY YOU SPEND ON DEVELOPMENT (FUNDRAISING) IS WASTED. YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHICH HALF.”

    • When I see organizational development (fundraising) budgets, and then see how much net, net, net money is actually raised… it’s appalling.
    • When I look at the money, time and energy that goes into what is supposed to be SPECIAL EVENTS… I’m amazed that anyone would even pretend the Golf Outing is generating Income that is having any significant Impact.
    • When I observe the amount of money spent on people/staff with no clear goals, no measurement, no accountability… I think I know which half is wasted.

I could go on and on. Let me make this Jack Nicholson crystal clear:

TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT/FUNDRAISING IS DEAD.

If you don’t believe that, just think long and hard about this wonderfully brilliant quote by my friend Tim Kight:

“You are perfectly designed to get the results you are getting.”


Most people reading this and receiving the pass-around know that you want different (and greater) results. It ain’t gonna happen with a design that was created 50 years ago based on grassroots, bottom of the pyramid, direct mail, galas, volunteers asking their friends for money, etc.