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Success Stories

We delight in helping individuals and organizations succeed in raising the support that is critical to their work, and the stories of happy clients are better than anything we could say about ourselves! Here are some of our favorites:

"If you chart the transformation in our thinking and behavior, you will find Taking Donors Seriously® at the fork in our financial road. What seemed radical has become commonplace in our culture. While TDS is still radical and refreshing, it is now an integral thread woven throughout the fabric of Young Life."
Denny Rydberg, past President of Young Life
"Before TDS I had limited experience in major gift fundraising, but the training that The FOCUS Group provided gave me the foundation I needed to be successful in raising major gifts. The training provided me with a wealth of knowledge, such as: the key principles of fundraising, how to recognize a giver, and the right way to ask for a major gift. The FOCUS Group team is comprised of experienced fundraisers that are there to see you become successful. They have become a much-needed resource in my fundraising career and have been available for strategy sessions and continued coaching."
Luke Roland, Development Officer, Bowery Mission
"TDS has changed my whole paradigm from impersonal letter writing and fear of failure to personal, face to face meetings, and strategic goals. During the three months of taking the course I was immediately putting my training to work in my first major fundraising endeavor. I have already raised most of my first goal. Really exciting! My coach was very encouraging and patient with me, very easy to get ahold to and get immediate coaching. I will highly recommend this course to others."
Ben Harris, Church Planter, Covenant Presbyterian Church
"The FOCUS GROUP's Taking Donors Seriously (TDS) Online program is an excellent training program for new MGOs. The flexible online curriculum combined with professional coaching creates a unique learning experience that sets new fundraisers on a path towards success. If you are new to fundraising, especially major gift fundraising, TDS will give you the knowledge and support you need for a good start. "
Ben Waterman, Regional Director of Development, Taylor University
"While this course does an excellent job of providing a comprehensive overview of fundraising, it is special because of its simplicity. I’d recommend Taking Donors Seriously for Major Gift Officers to beginners and veterans in the field, and to board members serious about fundraising. The 6 Key Principles and the Fundamental Framework of Fundraising are now part of my daily approach."
Mark Bogertman, National Advancement Officer, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"Just two years ago our staff team was significantly underfunded. Our team was undertrained and unmotivated, not sure how to move forward. Fundraising was seen as a necessary evil; something that had to happen in order to do what we really wanted to. Ministry on campus was perceived as separate from raising support. Today, however, there has been a significant change in attitude, a sharpening of skillsets, and an increase in our financial health.

The introduction of Taking Donors Seriously® Online (TDSO) was the catalyst for this change. TDSO has given our staff the confidence needed to tackle our funding challenges. The way the course is structured and delivered allows for high retention of the TDS principles. The coaches who have come alongside our staff have been invaluable in helping them process their situation and think strategically about fund raising over the next year. Our staff are beginning to understand the integral role that donors play as part of our mission and fundraising has become a part of our job that many now enjoy.

We are stepping into a new stage of growth in the mission in Georgia. This would not be possible without our increased financial help and donor relationships. This is in no doubt due to the TDS online course and what it has offered our team. I will continue to use TDS Online for our new and future staff. "

Nick Johnson, Area Director, Georgia, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"I've been raising support for a while now, but never felt like I had the tools, strategy, and confidence that I do now. This course has been fantastic and has helped me develop a plan to work more efficiently and effectively. I am no longer simply asking people for money, but am now inviting people to share in the ministry!"
Barbara Tooley, CrossWorld
"I have worked with The FOCUS Group for a short time now, and the knowledge and resources they have provided are immeasurable. As a tuition-based, privately funded school, Nampa Christian relies on its donors for survival. Taking Donors Seriously® Online has provided us time-tested principles for treating donors with respect and grace, practical methods for carrying them out, and one-on-one coaching calls to further develop our schools' specific plan. It's clear that The FOCUS Group understands the delicate nature of working with donors. There is no doubt our relationship will continue long after the class is finished. I would recommend them to anyone looking to build a solid case for fundraising."
Jill Cryder, Nampa Christian Schools
"TDS Online really gave me the tools I needed to be more effective in my development job. I have so much more confidence as a result of this training."
Susan Olson, Major Gift Officer, Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center
"Before I did TDS Online, I always struggled with raising support, and was always stuck at about 75% funded. Right away, I was able to apply the principles I learned in this program to increase my donor base. I am now fully-funded and able to spend more time on my ministry."
Skip McDonald, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship campus staff
"The Taking Donors Seriously online training was instrumental in getting me the knowledge and understanding I needed as a newcomer to the world of philanthropy. TDS set me up for success immediately, and the principles I learned have continued to prove meaningful and worthwhile. The lessons were clear, practical, and provided a strong foundation for my future in development."
Hector Cruz, Capital Campaign Manager, Evangel University
"TDS was instrumental in helping us as a small Christian school develop and implement a strategy to both engage and re-engage with donors in a way that honors both the school and those who are supporting us in our mission."
Steve Blom, Director of Development, Deer Creek Christian School
" Before going through the training I had participated in many Young Life fundraising seminars. I had a good, basic understanding of TDS and how it applies in an area setting, but I was not fully prepared for how to cultivate a donor base and support in a role in YL that is not in an area. Through this training I have grown in my understanding of how to cultivate relationships with current and potential donors, how to effectively make an ask for a large gift and how to gather a few people around me to help me do this. These are skills that have been most beneficial to develop in my role. I've been glad for the training and the accountability that my coach has provided throughout this course and even beyond."
Anneke Brown, Divisional YoungLives Coordinator, Young Life
"I suspect that, for most of us, our aversion to “fundraising” has to do with viewing it as just asking people for money. Taking Donors Seriously® has removed that aversion for me by helping me to see that “fundraising,” at its core, is about building and maintaining relationships. It is an investment in people that goes far beyond simply asking them for money. The program also outlines a realistic and practical strategy for cultivating relationships and, yes, productive fundraising.

We are a relatively small ministry and I am a part-time, novice development director. In a very real sense, everyone on our staff is on the front line of development. I have found the principles from Taking Donors Seriously® relevant and transferable enough that I am sharing them with our whole staff at weekly staff meetings. They are as applicable to those who answer the phones as they are to our president.

I really believe that Taking Donors Seriously® has been a huge jump forward in my education as a development director."

Paul Null, Development Director, Reid Saunders Association
"The format and content of the online course was helpful. My coach provided just the right amount of coaching and was an invaluable sounding board for ideas related to our capital campaign strategies. I would recommend Taking Donors Seriously as a great starting point for any non-profit looking to begin the process of creating a culture of giving."
Brian Koning, Director of Advancement, Abbotsford Christian School
"For those who are new to fundraising, this course is a must if you wish to maximize your potential right away. Not only your potential but also that of your team, which is your lifeline to raising money. For those of us who have been at it for a number of years but feel that we don't know it all, this was not only a great refresher course but was loaded with nuggets of great insight that we all need to know."
Holt Hall, Director of Advancement, Westminster Academy, Memphis TN
"TDS Online was instrumental in helping me rethink how I view donors, and how to be deliberate in connecting with them throughout the year. We are starting to build our TDS team; it’s so hopeful to know that I don’t have to do it on my own! My coach really pushed me to think about things differently, and was super encouraging as well. It was so helpful to talk through our fundraising goals and plans with an outside source. How to approach a potential donor, how to schedule a meeting, how to keep the ball in my court, how to communicate and keep in touch after a donation…we've been randomly successful off and on with these things, but having a planned approach is really valuable. "
Anna Braasch, Director of Operations, Connected Families
"Prior to my involvement with TDS Online, my account was in danger of falling in deficit and having our main income cut down to 75%. Ten weeks into the program our support has doubled, our account avoided deficit, and we are now one month ahead in our fundraising."
Arturo Paulino, Young Life Area Developer, Rome, Italy
"Those in the industry know that fundraising is about relationships. Taking Donors Seriously emphasized the significance of building relationships that last a lifetime and the importance of doing the right things at the right time. Having a plan in place the orchestrates the next step and what that next step should be, is liberating. Taking Donors Seriously has seriously changed the way we take care of donors."
Doug Jenkins, Evangel University
"I think TDS Online training is quite helpful in understanding how to raise money. I think most resource development folks start "backwards" thinking about how to raise money first versus creating a Case and moving forward from there. I was greatly helped by the lesson on "Leadership" in giving focus to building a team to help with building partners and raising the budget. It will be an asset moving forward in my job to have taken this training."
Kimberly Moody, Regional Director, Young Life
"Taking Donors Seriously sets a solid foundation for anyone looking to get into fundraising. I appreciated that it’s online so I could complete it according to MY schedule. The weekly 1-on-1 consultation calls are equally as great so you’re taught how to apply what you’re learning to real life situations!"
Micah Billman, Major Gift Officer, Evangel University
"My approach to raising a budget has been fundamentally changed through TDS online. I am realizing that relationships with donors can actually be a life-giving, joyful part of working in the non-profit world, but in order for that to happen, you must first take them seriously!"
Joel Wentz, Area Director, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
"This program has given us the tools and the skills to take our ministry to the next level. Thank you for the new skill set!"
Kim Carr, Executive Director, International Learning Center
"I loved TDS! It's going to help me establish good fundraising habits that will not only be beneficial for me, but for InterVarsity staff who come after me."
Lauren Ansong, Campus Staff, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship