SPECIAL REPORT
December 29, 2016

Challenging Sacred Cows and Killing Jargon: Our Most Popular Articles of 2016

L to R: KIM RAFF/FOR THE CHRONICLE; St. Baldrick's Foundation; Chronicle illustration by Ron Coddington

A lot’s been made of 2016 being a watershed year for "post-truth," but our readers went against that trend.

The stories they wanted most this year share a common thread: evidence and data over convention and tradition.

Our subscribers read about how some groups have boosted revenue by questioning "sacred cows" of fundraising. They considered a leading strategic-philanthropy proponent’s mea culpa for the ramifications of his theory as it was used in practice. They looked for tactics that worked in online fundraising, donor acknowledgment, and capital campaigns. They learned about a rising group of female philanthropists and how to find overlooked donors hidden in their data.

And, as they prepared for 2017, they looked for evidence of how the next presidential administration would influence their work and programs.

Below, the 10 stories our subscribers read most in 2016.

Article
February 29, 2016

Killing Sacred Cows: Charities Ditch Longtime Fundraising Strategies and Come Out Ahead

By taking a leap of faith, these groups have increased unrestricted gifts, raised more money, and benefited in other ways.

Article
April 04, 2016

Opinion: Why I Regret Pushing Strategic Philanthropy

A foundation veteran who (co-)wrote the book on marrying measurement to giving now says the ideas he promoted have had some "nasty" effects on donor-grantee relationships.

Article
May 02, 2016

Best of Online Fundraising: Tactics That Work

The Chronicle asked experts and readers to identify charities that stand out in their use of the Internet to gain support and sell their causes.

Article
September 21, 2016

Thank-You Notes That Look Handwritten Inspire Donors to Give Again

How one nonprofit brought back 440 lapsed donors and boosted revenue after taking a new approach to acknowledgments.

Article
January 28, 2016

Opinion: Charity Navigator Must Grow Up or Shut Down

As demonstrated by this week’s flap over administrative expenses at the Wounded Warrior Project, the watchdog group has misled the public about what matters in evaluating performance.

Article
May 16, 2016

Your Picks for the Worst Nonprofit Jargon

We asked for the words and phrases in the nonprofit world that you think unnecessarily confuse donors. Here are your answers.

Article
June 01, 2016

Women Primed to Give Big — if Nonprofits Are Willing to Change

Women have the wealth and ambition to be a major force in philanthropy, but charities have to recognize and respond to big changes in the demographics of donors.

Article
August 02, 2016

Data and the Search for Big Donors

How fundraisers crunch numbers, sift Facebook chatter, and analyze their results to learn exactly what donors want.

Article
November 29, 2016

Nonprofits Brace for Big Changes Under Trump Administration

A Republican-controlled White House and Congress means sweeping efforts to overhaul tax laws, redirect spending, and roll back programs important to many charities.

Article
August 02, 2016

Fundraising Lessons From Stanford’s $12 Billion Man

Outgoing Stanford President John Hennessy raised billions for the university by steering clear of talking about goals in dollar terms and communicating clearly what a gift would accomplish.