Derric Bakker's Articles

How to Identify and Recruit Great Fundraisers

On a flight to Portland recently I happened upon an article in BusinessWeek magazine about Portland resident Dan McLaughlin. McLaughlin, having never picked up a golf club somehow talked Nike into sponsoring him as a professional golfer. He decided to become a golf pro after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which posits that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master at any skill. Recently he passed his 2,000th hour of practice, and he’s now shooting in the mid-90s. Not quite PGA material, but he remains convinced that if he sticks to the “Dan Plan” he will get his tour card within a couple years and win his first PGA tournament within six years. This got me to thinking. What makes a great fundraiser? Is it a skill learned through thousands of hours of practice? Or an art you are born with? We’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of fundraisers. Some are good, some mediocre, and a few are great. We’ve recruited many of them for fund ...

7 Important Team Lessons From a Flock of Birds

Wildlife scientists have learned some fascinating facts about why migratory birds fly in a V-formation. Here are 7 important team lessons from a flock of birds...

3 Important Ways We Need to Be Different As Christian Fundraisers

[Originally posted on on March 10, 2016 and repurposed for] What’s so Christian about the way we do our fundraising? Is Christian fundraising nothing more than secular fundraising, with some Bible verses strewn throughout our appeals? Here are three things should mark us as distinctly Christian fundraisers, and have a dramatic impact on the way we carry out our work… Faith-based, not Sales-led God’s people give to God’s work as the Spirit of God leads them. We may agree with this in our hearts, but approach our work as though it’s really all up to us. When we ask people to pray over their decision, we must be sincere in leaving the decision in God’s hands. We must do our work well by making clear presentations and a definite ask for support. But we do not ‘close the sale.’ Transformational, not Transactional If we ask our donors to make a transactional giving decision, we’ll fail b ...

3 Leadership Lessons From the Best Coach of All Time

[Originally posted on March 3, 2019 on and repurposed for] A friend recently invited me to attend a fundraiser for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes featuring Dabo Swinney, the renowned head coach of the number-one rated Clemson Tigers, two-time national champions. This was a particular treat for me because I love college football and I’m a big fan of Clemson University, where my daughter is a senior this year. Dabo did not disappoint. Ask anyone who knows Dabo Swinney how he built the nation’s number one college football program, and they will tell you he did it by the sheer strength of his leadership. Want to learn how to lead like Dabo and build your own high-performing team? Here are three leadership lessons from the best coach of all time: Talent matters most. Whether in football or in fundraising, you cannot build a high-performing team without high-performing people. Dabo is known for his skill at rec ...

7 Habits That Will Take Your Major Gift Fundraising to the Next Level

[Previously posted on] What’s it take to become masterful at major gift fundraising? Discipline yourself to build these seven habits into your work routine and you will raise major giving to a whole new level at your nonprofit organization. I love to golf. The relaxed camaraderie of being out on the course with friends and colleagues. The open air and natural scenery. The satisfaction that comes from making a great shot. The endless challenge to improve your game. My only problem is, I’m just not very good at it. I used to be decent, but now that I don’t play nearly as often, I’ve become frustratingly inept. Even so, on those rare occasions that I do get out and play, I can still surprise myself by making a good shot occasionally. On a good day, I might even put together a string of a few good holes. If that’s all you saw, you might even mistake me for being a good golfer. But invite me to join your team and you’d soon be disappointed. T ...

Derric Bakker
Derric Bakker
Dickerson, Bakker & Associates President

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