Viken Mikaelian

Let Testimonials Say What You Can’t

Viken Mikaelian  

“What’s the difference between advertising and public relations? In advertising, you tell your audience how great you are. In public relations, you get someone else to  tell them the same thing.”

Fundraisers, like other marketers, face skepticism and resistance nowadays when they make a direct statement about the worthiness of their organization. Prospects feel they have been fooled so many times by government, corporations and non-profits that the first response to any straight-out, first person message is distrust. Before you can get prospects to listen to your recitation of your organization’s accomplishments and needs, you have to expend a lot of persuasive energy to get past their defenses. Continue reading

Viken Mikaelian

Insights From 30+ Years in Planned Giving …

Viken Mikaelian  

My Mindset.

I’m curious by nature. I often have my nose buried in marketing plans and pieces from the planned giving world, and I can’t help but ask questions: “Why are they suggesting this tactic?” “Why are they focusing on this detail?” “How do they envision this working?” Unfortunately (though not surprisingly), the creators of these materials can’t provide satisfying answers to my curious questions.

Early in my career I was a sought-after marketing and communications guru. When I entered the planned giving world, I quickly learned a sad truth: While these planned giving vendors knew the lingo of their industry, they didn’t know the basics of communication. Continue reading

Viken Mikaelian

Philanthropy Under Trump / Webinar

Viken Mikaelian  

Andrew J. Gray, CPA, Jeff Comfort, with Viken Mikaelian

Trump’s coming.

Whether that brings joy or fear to your heart, one thing it’s guaranteed to bring to all of us is change.

Our president-elect’s proposed changes to the tax code are going to affect philanthropy. If you want to know how, this webinar is for you.

We’ll cover:

  • Trump’s plan: the bad news for charities
  • Trump’s plan: the good news for charities
  • What donors think
  • The path of Trump’s plan after inauguration day
  • A detailed look at the proposed tax code changes that will affect charitable deductions
  • What can nonprofit executives do in the meantime, until we know what’s happening?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017, 2 PM EST. Space is limited. 

We will revisit this topic again mid summer.


Viken Mikaelian

Tell Your Heart Surgeon to Go Away

Viken Mikaelian  

Money has a way of showing up when people see the need for it.

In my entire career in the planned giving business, I have consistently heard, “…but my budget has been cut back this year.” It’s the same story every year, no matter what the economy’s doing.

It’s sad, because when planned giving budgets are cut, the long-term growth of the organization suffers. The key word here is “long-term.” You get it, but most do not. Or they get it on an intellectual level but don’t internalize it.

But it is also your fault. Continue reading

Viken Mikaelian

On Productivity, Planned Giving and Your Career

Viken Mikaelian  

Two informal surveys of ours indicate that those who dabble even a little bit in planned giving do significantly better in their careers than those who do not. Actually, forget about our surveys and think about this logically. Planned giving is a proactive field. It involves foresight and thoughtful long-term planning for the future. This is different from annual giving which is more about addressing urgency. And, as we know, in almost any field, those in charge of long-term planning are compensated better than those serving immediate needs.

Here are some tips on getting your career energized. Read over them, then put them into action straight away. Continue reading

Viken Mikaelian

Workus Interruptus

Viken Mikaelian  

A personal rant. Not for the faint of heart or politically correct.

Endless texts, tweets, emails, calls, chats, IMs, Facebook updates… What do all these things have in common? They’re all uncontrolled by you and letting others control your time. All buzzing and vibrating and stealing your attention from what you should be doing. Not to mention co-workers at your door. “Got a minute?” “What are you doing for lunch?” “You did hear about Nancy and Bob…?”

This issue is about peak productivity. So turn off your smartphone, ignore your email, and dive in. There’s good stuff in here.

A variety of hand-drawn doodled text of time management concepts.

Continue reading

Viken Mikaelian

What We Don’t Do

Viken Mikaelian  

Planned giving marketing firms should stick with what they know best.

Companies like to boast about what they do. Apparently, many firms also like to do far more than they should. More and more in the planned giving community I see “marketing” firms promising their clients the world. Continue reading