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Navigating Difficult Donor Situations
Most fundraisers have experienced an uncomfortable, offensive, or harmful donor interaction. This cannot just be seen as “part of the job” rather something that is addressed to create a culture and systems that build brave spaces and policies and procedures that result in greater fundraiser safety and professional satisfaction. In this session we’ll discuss principles and practices to address difficult donor situations driven by power dynamics in the moment, follow-up strategies that create a culture of support and effectively escalate issues and concerns, and how to create spaces and policies to minimize these difficult donor interactions.
Meet the Speakers
 Laurel McCombs
Senior Philanthropy Advisor, The Osborne Group

Laurel McCombs brings over 20 years of experience to her work with The Osborne Group. Laurel works closely with clients on topics including donor engagement, development operations, board development, and more. In addition to well-received workshops for national organizations, universities, and others, Laurel has presented at AFP ICON, CASE-NAIS, and AFP Congress. Prior to joining TOG, Laurel worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America where she coordinated capacity-building support to agencies across the country.

 Robert Osborne
 Principal, The Osborne Group

Robert Osborne is Principal of The Osborne Group, with 30 years of nonprofit experience. He speaks regularly nationally and internationally. Robert serves on the boards of the United Hospital Fund and US Squash, both in New York. He also serves on the International Advisory Board of the Czech Fundraising Center in Czech Republic, the International Advisory Board of the Impact Hub Belgrade in Serbia, and the Advisory Board of the Impact Hub Metropolitan in New York. He is a studio partner and co-founder of Studio X Ventures, a venture studio for social impact startups in the Western Balkans.

CASE Career Levels

Level 1 - Early Career (acquire knowledge about the common core of the advancement function for new professionals and mid-career professionals transitioning into advancement)

Level 2 - Emerging Early Career (develop technical, explicit knowledge in a chosen specialty and grow skills in the advancement competencies)

Level 3 - Practicing/maturing Mid-Career (work on achieving fluency in all aspects of advancement and grow leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of ethics)

Level 4 - Senior/experienced Mid-Career (develop deep expertise in your discipline and your understanding of other disciplines)

Level 5 - Expert Seasoned Professional (develop an understanding of the role advancement plays in executing higher-level institutional strategy)

Level 6 - Leadership/Transforming Seasoned Professional (contribute with work that is more strategic than managerial and maintain a multidisciplinary understanding and portfolio)

CASE Competencies

Global and Cultural Competence
Working effectively with and for people from different geographies and cultural perspectives (Cultural intelligence, understanding bias, creating a safe work environment for all)

Integrity and Professionalism
Excellence in conduct representing oneself and one’s institution and the profession (Builds and maintains trust, ethical conduct, personal accountability, storytelling, effective communicator, presenter and facilitator)


Business and Financial Acumen
Understands the business situation and financial factors and takes responsibility for the best course of action (Data based decision making, financial fluency, institutional business knowledge, industry business knowledge)


Industry/Sector Expertise
Focused upon knowledge and skills requisite to specific domains of practice within the profession (Fundraising, Constituent and Alumni Relations, Marketing and Communications, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Management, Advancement Services)

Relationship Building
Effectively utilizing interpersonal skills to build and maintain strong professional relationships between the organization and internal and external stakeholders (Effectively engage volunteers and stakeholders, consensus building, collaboration and teamwork, stewardship, negotiation, conflict resolution, proactive relationship development)

Emotional Intelligence
Recognizing emotions and understanding how they impact you and others to guide thinking and behavior (Active listening, self-awareness, empathy, social awareness, social skill)


Strategic Thinking
Employs methods and processes to view a situation, assess factors, and create effective implementation plans with measurable results (Align strategy with action, critical thinking, innovative problem solving, change management, adaptability to complexity, strategic planning, understanding data and context, strategic stakeholder engagement)


Leading with vision and credibility, to effectively manage self, others and resources to achieve organizational impact.  The ability to define what the future should look like, align people with that vision, and influence others through authenticity and inspiration to make the vision happen despite obstacles. (Entrepreneurial, models’ engagement in advancement, manages ambiguity, future focused, executive presence, perseverance, courageous communicator, continuous learning)
Availability: Registration Required
Location: Online Meeting
Date / Time: Jul 30, 2024 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM EST
Credit Offered:
No Credit Offered
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