A kind note from Heather following her Dec 14, 2022 presentation with DPP: Strategies for the Startup Development Office with Heather Thompson, CDO at Norwescap

All resources mentioned below are available in the DPP Resource Library.


Hello fellow DPPers!

Thank you so much for taking part in last week’s “Lunch Analysis” session. I so appreciated the chance to share some of my experiences with you as I continue to learn every day what to do, or what NOT to do, in getting a development strategy off the ground.

As promised, I’m following up with some materials that might be helpful if you are in “startup” mode, or if you’re trying to overhaul or start fresh with your development efforts. When I started working at Norwescap, we really had NO donor-facing materials that spoke to the organization as a whole. Some of our programs had developed their own brochures and materials (some were pretty good, some were awful, lol), but I didn’t have a single thing that I could give to someone that said “Hey, here’s what we do, you should support us.” So, here are a few pieces we developed that have been really helpful in our outreach:

  • One-pager (attached) – this is essentially a one-sheet summary of our Annual Report, to give people a bit of an idea of what we do and some of our stats/achievements from the previous year
  • Annual Report – Norwescap had always produced an annual report, but it was NOT a piece donors could relate to at all. So we completely overhauled it to be more of an impact report, with a fair amount of “Norwescap 101” since many people don’t truly know what we do. https://norwescap.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2021.Annual.Report.FINAL_.reduced.size_.pdf
  • LOI/Case for Support (attached) – this is a piece we developed to serve as our standard LOI to potential institutional funders, i.e. family foundations in our region, who don’t have a formal grant process. It essentially serves as an overview and case for support for our overall work; we modify this based on each funder’s priority giving areas, etc. We’ve developed some great strategies for finding and getting in front of these types of funders – I’m happy to chat more on that topic specifically if this is an area where you need help!
  • Sample development goals (attached) – these are examples of the types of non-financial goals I mentioned in the session. You’ll see that they are still pretty specific and actionable – that way you have something to measure against and report on. Developing these types of goals and then tracking progress against them helps to reinforce to your leadership and Board that development work is NOT just about immediate revenue. Goals like this speak to the “long game” and prioritize relationship building vs the immediate ROI.
  • Sample Grant Dashboard (attached) – one of my first priorities was ramping up our outreach to private and corporate foundations, because it was our lowest hanging-fruit – we had strong financials, plenty of outcomes data, and a mission that could align with nearly any funder’s priorities since we have so many programs. So again, I created goals not just around how much money we could raise through foundations, but how many applications we were going to submit. I created this report to share with the Board quarterly so they could see that we were following through on that goal, while continually emphasizing that the response rate on new applications was likely to be low and we may need to apply to many places multiple years in a row before we would get anywhere.
  • Storytelling – I’m also throwing in a link to our most recent video, which we are using for our year-end campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i894uxtxfk. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building out your capacity to tell stories as you’re working to move your development efforts forward. You can share all the cases for support and outcome statistics you want, but if people don’t feel some sort of human connection to what you do, they won’t be moved to give. Investing in one or two well-produced story videos each year, and supplementing that with “homemade” videos that showcase your work and the impact made by your donors throughout the year, is so worthwhile.

I hope these materials are helpful to you all! Feel free to share them with your teams and leadership, and if you have questions or want to chat, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll be away the rest of December but happy to reconnect in the new year.

Happy holidays everyone! Wishing you success – and some time for REST and RELAXATION – through the rest of year-end!

Warm regards,


developerp Changed status to publish December 23, 2022