All posts by Mark Zobel, Ph.D., C.F.R.M.

Director of Annual Giving, and Adjunct Professor of Arts Administration at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois

workflow chart

How I GTD: My First Big Breakthrough

David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology is not about getting things done. It’s about clearing the mind so that one can focus on the needs of the moment.


Alumni Relations and Icebergs: The Hidden Makings of Success

Engaged alumni, a thriving annual fund, regular major gifts, these are all highly visible signs of a healthy alumni/development program. The reality, though, is that the vast majority of what makes these successes happen lies behind the scenes where no one can see. Much like an iceberg, the bulk of what drives institutional advancement is largely hidden from view.

coffee and book

How I GTD: 5 Books I Put on My “Read Immediately List” in 2017

My “read immediately” list is far longer than what I will be able to get to in a lifetime, and that is how it should be. There were, however, some titles that made a real difference in 2017.


3 Headline Templates for Optimizing Fundraising Appeals

Donors only spend a few precious seconds scanning fundraising appeals. It is critical that eye-catching headlines and call-out text be crafted in a way that communicates the essence of the message. Here are three templates to help make the most of your headlines.

student with books

Vocation and Gen Z: Alumni as Mentors

Mounting evidence indicates that Gen Z-ers tend to be espeically open to coaching and mentoring. Given the right circumstances, alumni can be effective mentors, helping students grapple with the big questions of vocation.

Disney Castle

Be “Show-Ready” and “Optimize the Mundane” with Alumni

Here’s what a trip to Disney World taught me about delivering an exceptional level of service to alumni and donors.

hurricane damage

5 Alumni Engagement Strategies for When Tragedy Strikes

Alumni/Development work is all about relationships. Good alumni engagment after a disaster strikes is all about being responsive to the needs of the moment.

written letter

Before Your Next Appeal Goes Out, Check the “You” Factor

Appeal letters are at their best when the language focuses heavily on the donor’s need to know that he or she is the only one who can make a difference in that moment. Too many refernces to “us” and “we” redirect attention back to the organization, attenuating the importance of the donor’s role.