A former colleague always said “If we want to make sure the gifts are coming in, we have to stuff the cannoli”. I must have been hungry that last time I heard that phrase because the visualization developed into a fundraising training program that my volunteers seemed to really enjoy.

All it takes are some good, mouth-watering photos of cannoli: mixing the healthy ingredients, rolling the dough, baking, and finally putting together the entire luscious package. I will go through the presentation step-by-step and you can imagine the accompanying photos:

(1) Picture a finished cannoli.

A cannoli to the dessert connoisseur is a work of art. Delicate crust, filing prepared with exquisite ingredients, dusted with sugar. To create the proper cannoli, i.e., fundraising program, a lot of preparation goes on beforehand.

(2) Getting Started –a cannoli form

The first item is the cannoli form or gift policy manual. This document details what ingredients go into the fundraising plan and which could ruin the taste of the cannoli. A well crafted manual ensures that participants in a development effort (executives, staff, volunteers) are all using the same ingredients.

(3) What size is your cannoli?

Well before the start of a development campaign, agreement should be reached on the size of the cannoli, i.e., what are our goals and how much of each ingredient do we need to reach our target?

(4) How fancy is your cannoli?

Too many extras can detract from the overall taste of the cannoli. A campaign effort can be sidetracked or even derailed by superfluous meetings, press interviews or other niceties which get in the way of our goal.

(5) How many cannoli?

If your institution has multiple sites or divisions, make sure each has a cannoli that is just the right size and taste for their needs.

(6) Filling your cannoli

Strive for consistency. Your objective is to establish a steady stream of gifts over a protracted period of time. If you do not fill your cannoli properly you will find a void in the middle of your taste experience – very disappointing.

(7) Now get out there and sell those cannoli

Keep the activity steady. You will meet many people who love your campaign and want to join you in your efforts.

(8) Enjoy your success!!