Monday Morning Musings

RaiseMoreMoney Bus Comm 139 px

April 21, 2014

We’re getting ready to celebrate our 21st year in business on May 1. It’s been a long time—wow! And three name changes later, Linda Lysakowski LLC has been worth the wait.

In twenty-one years, we’ve had hundreds of fantastic clients worked with some of the best in the profession, and raised more than $50,000,000. Oh, and written, co-authored, or contributed to more than a dozen books, including one novel.

Check out for more information about my novel. I have second fiction book in the works—one of these days!!!

I am really excited about the fact that I have three new books coming out in the next couple of months. Watch for Raise More Money from Your Business Community—The Workbook, The New Donor, and Nonprofit Strategic Planning.

And I think I am even more excited about the new GENIUS books coming out in the next couple of months.  Recovery Beyond Your 12 Steps, Casino Video Poker, Wine, Beer, and Going Green to mention just a few.

For more info on Genius book, check out

If you’re interested in writing a GENIUS book, Email me at

Monday Morning Musings

Monday Morning Musings

April 14, 2014


Spring is here! I am not sure about you, but I still remember spring housecleaning, when everyone straightened out closets, drawers, and shelves; washed windows; got out spring and summer clothes; and cleaned out files (maybe for tax season which is also upon us).

This might be a good time to houseclean your development department. Here are some things you can do:

  • Go through your donor database and  make sure your files are accurate, address, phone numbers, and emails are up to date.
  • Also check your lapsed donors, maybe you need a phone or mail appeal to get them to renew this year.
  • Spruce up your website. Is it up-to-date? (no old events that were held three months ago but are still listed). Is it interactive? Do you have  “donate now” button in a prominent location? Do you have your latest annual report, 990 form etc. on your website?
  • Review your board contributions, have you done your annual board appeal yet?
  • Review job descriptions for staff, board, and volunteers—are they up-to-date? Or maybe, do they exist?

If you find that a lot these things and more are out-of-date or you can’t find them. It might be time for a development audit.

Earlier this year I had a special offer on a Quick and Dirty Development Audit. If you didn’t take advantage of it then, the first five people to respond to this post, will receive a Quick and Dirty Development Audit for just $499. (regular price $750)

Email me at

Monday Morning Musings

photo Marcie (2)


April 7, 2014

Reflections on the AFP conference in San Antonio

The 51st annual AFP Conference was a great experience. It is always good to connect with old friends and meet new ones.

Hanging around the book store and doing my book signing was fun. One visitor at my book signing was my friend Marcy Heim. By the way, if you haven’t checkout out her Major Gift class, you can still sign up. Here are the details.

MORE Major Gifts Workshop

You want to compose a good world.  Your passion for your organization drives you to want to succeed.  But you need more.

For the confidence, mindset and plan for your major gift fundraising success join my colleague Marcy Heim, The Artful Asker for her MORE Major Gifts Workshop May 12-13 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and May 19-20 in Des Moines, Iowa. (more sites announced soon)

In this 2-DAY intensive, MORE Major Gifts Workshop learn major-gift-fundraising start to finish. Leave with a plan.  If you’re serious about this – if you clearly want to bring in major gifts (whatever ‘major’ is for your organization) be one of only 35 to experience this two-day workshop like none other.

You will learn how to:

  • Manage your time and eliminate overwhelm
  • Create a high-performing major gift portfolio
  • Use the Artful Asker Cycle of Successful Relationships™ and from the first appointment on, know what action to take.
  • Ask YOURSELF the right questions to stop blocking your own success
  • Write and speak a major gift ask
  • Create a step-by-step RAP (relationship action plan) for a donor you take home and execute
  • Creating a team of helpers….and so much more!

Because I know Marcy, I have also arranged for a special price for you for the MORE Major Gifts Workshop  $100 off!  Click here to register.  Use MMGLINDA at check out.

What difference would ONE new MAJOR GIFT make for your mission?  Sign up today.

MORE Major Gifts Workshop – Raise MORE money…Do MORE good.

To sign up:

Monday Morning Musing

Photo Woz cropped (2)

The Art and Science of Computers, Fundraising, and Life


Recently I had the opportunity to meet one of the true geniuses of our time—Steve Wozniak—at the AFP conference in San Antonio.


While probably everyone was familiar with the other Steve—The Woz’s turtle-necked business partner in Apple—the Woz might not be as much of a household name. But here is the genius part—it takes art and science to come together for anything to be successful In the computer world it took a scientific genius—Wozniak—and a marketing genius—Jobs—to make Apple the success it is today.


In the fundraising world it also takes art and science to succeed. Yes some people are good at the science part—managing data, research, writing a grant, etc. Others are great at the art side of it—meeting with donors, building relationship, creating a compelling case for support. Both the art and the science are important. If you’re weak on one side, learn all you can about the art and the science of fundraising so you can be good at both.


Our lives, too, need balance. We’re forced into the science side of life—counting our calories, working with technology, exercising to stay healthy. But we also need time for the art of life—creating, enjoying nature, building relationships. For me I practice the science every day, working out plans for my clients, managing my email, balancing my schedule. The art comes in for me in my writing. This year I will be publishing three new books, and maybe I will actually get that second fiction book done too!


Whatr are you doing to find a good balance of art and science in your life?


Monday Morning Musing March 17, 2014


Happy St Patrick’s day to all our Irish friends, but then of course today everyone is Irish, right?

We tend to associate St. Patrick’s Day with the “luck of the Irish,” but fundraising is not “luck” at all. It is skill, knowledge, and art. Are you practicing the science and art of fundraising? Both are important.

The science part comes in when you learn how to analyze data, run successful events, write grants that are awarded, and use social media to create buzz about your organization. The art comes in when you work directly with a donor to make gift that is personalized for the donor and achieves the donor’s goals, while helping your organization fulfill its mission.

If you are attending the AFP conference in San Antonio this coming week, you will surely hear much about both the art and the science of fundraising. If you’re attending, I hope to see you there. I’ll be teaching a class on Keeping Your Donors, based on the Fundraising Effectiveness Project—a great way to learn the art and science—on Saturday afternoon. And I’ll be doing a book signing in the book store Sunday afternoon, so be sure to stop by and see me there.

Speaking of books, my Raise More Money from Your Business Community-The Workbook will be published soon after the conference. And The New Donor will be coming later this spring.

If you’re not attending AFP this year, plan on attending in Baltimore next year. I’ll see you there.

Monday Morning Musing March 10, 2014


Red Rock Canyon Redux


A few weeks ago I wrote about our trip to Red Rock Canyon. We’re heading back there today with my co-author Lynn Dean, CFRE. In addition to enjoying the scenery at the canyon we’ll be putting some final touches to our book, Nonprofit Strategic Planning, which should be available this summer.


Speaking of strategic plans, do you have one? Is it sitting on a shelf gathering dust, or is it a viable, living, breathing document which your board and staff use to move the organization towards its vision?


What, you say you don’t have a vision?


If not, now is the time to develop your vision. Remember that a vision statement looks at your future, and not just the future of your organization but the future of your community. Some examples of good vision statements are:


“No child in our community goes to bed hungry.”


“All women in our community feel safe and nurtured.”


“Our community is able to attract cutting edge businesses because we have a well-educated, ethical, committed work force.”


You get the idea! It’s not—we will be free from debt; we will have a committed, contributing board; we will have a state-of-the-art facility. This are means to an end, not the end!


Back to our upcoming book. Would you like to be part of it? Send us your stories of successful strategic planning you’ve done, what made it work? Or, your horror stories, what went wrong? We are happy to give your credit or let you remain anonymous. Contact me at if you have a strategic planning story to share.




Monday Morning Musing

March 3, 2014

Don’t worry, be happy!

Remember that song from way back when?

I was reminded of that song as I listened to my pastor preach his pre-Lenten homily based on the scripture reading about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, who don’t worry because God takes care of them.  My pastor reminded us that a good thing to give for Lent might be worrying! A novel idea for many of us.

Whatever your faith or spiritual beliefs, I think giving up worry is a great idea. So many times we worry about things like: What if this major donor says, “No?” What if something goes wrong at our big event? What if that grant does not come through? What if I don’t get that promotion I worked so hard for? And I am sure you can add to the list of things that keep you up at night.

How about, this year, stop worrying about all those things. OK, so how do you not worry about these things that are so important in your job? First, realize that some things are beyond your control so there is no purpose served in worrying about those, but many things are within your control.

I was never a Boy Scout, obviously, but my brother was and I do remember their motto quite well—“Be Prepared.” If you plan well and prepare for all contingencies you will not lose sleep worrying about things that you can control. Here are some hints to help avoid the worries of most development offices:

  • Remember that when talking to donors, a “no” is almost always not “no, forever.” It is usually “no, not right now,” “no, not for that amount,” “no, not for that project,” or “no, not before I think about it, pray about it, talk to my partner about it, talk to my financial advisor.” If you remember that all calls on donors will give you some clues about how you might approach them next time, you won’t worry so much about hearing “No!”
  • Plan for all contingencies when you hold special events–weather, low ticket sales, a speaker that goes on too long, another major community event falling on the same day, etc.  If you plan far enough in advance you won’t lose sleep the night before your event.
  • Have a diversified fundraising plan, so if one major funding steam dries up, you will have others to tap.
  • Work hard and learn as much as you can about your job, the art and science of fundraising, and your organization; and you won’t be passed over for that promotion. If you are not being treated fairly, or are working for an organization that is not ethical or does not treat you as a professional, maybe it’s time to shake the dust from your feet and move on.

Before you go to sleep tonight, ask if you’ve done the best you can do to prepare for all the “stuff” that happens along the way. And then forget about all the things you can’t control, and sleep well!death-valley-flowers-1

Monday Morning Musing Feb 24, 2014

Red Rock Canyon

Yesterday we spent the day at Red Rock Canyon with our dear friends who are moving to another state. In the past eight years, we’ve had the luxury of going on lots of road trips with our friends , enjoying nature and hiking through woods and mountains and deserts.

In recent years we’ve had to give up the hiking aspect of our friendship due to my vertigo and my husband’s Parkinson ’s Disease. However, yesterday we found that we enjoyed the beautiful Red Rock  Canyon just as much, simply by sharing a picnic lunch and playing Yahtzee at our picnic table.

It led me to thinking about how sometimes our careers change because of various circumstances in or lives.

Due to the health issues I’ve shared above, my own career has taken a drastic turn, from living in airports and hotels to staying home more. I’ve rediscovered and reinvented my career yet one more time! I now focus most of my consulting on local clients; distance learning, training , and consulting; and pursuing a new passion—writing and editing other authors’ works! But guess what? It’s  opened whole new doors for me. I found some wonderful clients in my own back yard! I’ve reconnected with clients in other states who need some ongoing support on an “as-needed” basis, and I am learning a lot about a whole new universe of ideas form the authors I am working with.

If your career is at a standstill, or if you’ve had life-altering circumstances, you might think about ways you can reinvent yourself and your career.

Some Ideas:

  • Read my book, Fundraising as a Career: What, Are You Crazy? If you’re already in a fundraising career you might think of different options to make your career more satisfying.
  • Read Joanne’s Oppelt ‘s book, Moving Up.  Maybe it’s time to think about moving into an executive director role.
  • Read The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook. You might want to try consulting, or, if you are already a consultant, there are some great stories in here about consultants who reinvented themselves and their companies. (all these books are available on my website)
  • Find a mentor!
  • Find coach to help you though your career path. (Let me know if you need more information about coaching services)
  • Attend the AFP International Conference in San Antonio in March, a great place to become renewed and inspired. And maybe even reinvent your career.  I’ll see you there. Let me know if you want to meet up and chat about your career or a book idea you might have!My beautiful picture

Monday Morning Musing

Feb 17, 2014

Happy President’s Day.

This day always make me think about the great leaders this country has been fortunate to have over its almost two-hundred fifty year history; and yes, some not so great ones too.

Kind of like many of our nonprofits. The right leader can make all the difference. Be it an executive director, president, board chair, or campaign leader.

I’ve been so fortunate over my twenty –plus years of consulting to work with some great staff leaders and some great volunteer leaders.  Here are a few of my thoughts about what makes a great leader:

  • A president or CEO that is willing to let staff members be creative and find solutions to their own problems.
  • A board chair that recognizes the crucial role of the board in assessing its own performance, not just the CEO’s.
  • A volunteer campaign leader, who inspires volunteers to enjoy themselves while pulling together a successful campaign—one  who attends meetings, understands the volunteer role, and supports staff—all while encouraging donors, volunteers and staff to stretch to new heights.
  • A development committee chair that encourages the rest of the board to become involved in fundraising, and helps staff eliminate the “tin cup mentality” that still pervades many nonprofits.
  • A CEO that understands the importance of succession planning.
  • A board chair that understand the importance of succession planning.
  • A mid-level management staff person that knows how to lead from the middle.
  • The successful CEO or consultant that still takes time to mentor new professionals.

There are many more qualities of a good leader. I’d love to hear your thoughts!