Be a better fundraiser!

Learn from Dr. James' research.
Develop a more functional team.
Raise more money!

50% Off Discounted Sign-Up Opportunity 
Ends on December 14 at 3 pm Eastern Time

Introducing the only online fundraising training course that helps fundraisers improve their skills AND helps staff work together more collaboratively.

Content developed by world-renowned researcher and lifetime achievement award winner Dr. Russell James - the authoritative voice on fundraising and philanthropy, featured in all the major media.

One low annual subscription 
grants your entire organization unlimited access.


Get everyone rowing in the same direction by inviting as many employees and volunteers as you’d like including:

  • Staff
  • ​Leadership
  • ​Administrators
  • ​Program teams
  • ​Board members
  • ​Volunteers
  • ​Etc.
             *Just don't share access with members of other organizations.

Finally, an online training course designed to help you optimize all of your human resources.

Help everyone get on the same page, rowing in the same direction.
Imagine closing more major gifts.

Imagine retaining more major donors and high performing staff members, board members, or volunteers.

Imagine breaking down the silos holding you back from achieving your goals.


"I think the course is brilliant! It's what you need to know."

Jill Nelson
"The weekly calls provided me with a really important space to pause, listen to pros and peers, and recenter my head around the donors I am currently working with."

Bill Bullock
"This course beats the heck out of having another degree."

Julie Hallowell

Is this online training course right for you (and your organization’s staff and volunteers)?


Have you felt like quitting or have already quit in the past (and are on your second or fifth) fundraising job because you haven't felt supported?

Have you been dealing with constant turnover among fundraising staff?

Have you felt that ‘others’ in your organization don’t understand what you do?

Are gift officers scapegoated?

Might gift officer underperformance be the result of an uncooperative and discouraging culture?

Have you felt misalignment with other teams in your organization because they don't understand what it really takes to raise major gifts of assets?

Is your organization overly-focused on transactions and not focused enough on building trusting relationships with donors (especially major donor prospects)?

Have you or your staff been pressed to ask your major donor prospects for money too soon and too frequently?

Have you felt like there must be a better way to get everyone 'rowing' together and in the same direction?


This course has been really helpful, and I’ve already used the conversations with our team, so they better understood it too!”

Cindy Atmar
Executive Director of Trusts, Estates & Gift Planning

Get Access to Donor Story: Epic Fundraising




  • Start new staff off on the right foot
  • ​Help others in your organization understand what you do
  • ​Get everyone rowing in the same direction
  • ​Improve staff retention as a result of less silos and internal friction
  • Develop a more functional team
  • Save on hiring costs resulting from high turnover rates
  • Attract top talent who want to be part of a well-functioning team without silos
  • Retain institutional knowledge that (otherwise) flies out the window when gift officers quit
  • Ensure staff continuity to shore up and elongate relationships with major donors


for every employee and volunteer 

Just one subscription price grants your organization unlimited access for every single employee and volunteer serving your mission.

Invite everyone* involved in your cause including your:
  • Staff
  • ​Leadership
  • ​Administrators
  • ​Program teams
  • ​Board members
  • ​Volunteers
  • ​Etc.
             *Just don't share access with members of other organizations.
"All I can say is each lesson gets better and better. This is amazing content."

Sherri Hudson
"There's a lot of value to the course. It's like when you go to a conference. I get more out of conferences when I talk to people who are in the field doing the same kind of work and comparing stories and comparing notes."

Tim Andrews
"I can highly endorse the material and the value inside. I would highly recommend taking the course and applying it to your major and legacy gifts efforts."

Kelley Tetzlaff


Finally, an online training course that helps individual gift officers improve their skills AND helps staff work together more collaboratively.

Get Access to Donor Story: Epic Fundraising

Here’s what your staff, volunteers, leadership, and board will learn:

  • Why your teams are not working together to raise more money.
  • What's really holding your organization back from raising massive gifts of assets.
  • Why other nonprofits are getting the gifts you want. 
  • ​The theory and science behind why people really give major gifts of assets — during and after their lifetimes.  
  • What your entire organization can do to inspire major donor prospects to move themselves forward in the consideration process for making major gifts of assets (including legacy gifts).  
  • Who to include in your major and legacy gift caseloads.
  • ​What you can say to generate more gifts and bigger gifts including hundreds of questions and phrases you can use right away.
  • Research-backed, clear explanations for why major gifts fundraising is relational, not transactional.


After taking this course and putting the skills you learn into practice:

  • Everyone in your organization will understand how fundraising really works.
  • ​Poorly functioning teams will become more functional, team-oriented and supportive of the fundraising process.
  • ​A culture of philanthropy will flourish.
  • Shared responsibility for development will grow.
  • ​Disparate teams will become more integrated and aligned.
  • ​Donors will give more because they feel respected and properly engaged.
  • ​Your organization will raise more money than ever before to support its mission. 
  • ​Your staff will fulfill their personal desires to make a difference in the world.
  • ​You'll unify your team around Dr. James new approach, and help them finally 'get' what you do, and why it needs to be done the right way.


Get Access to Donor Story: Epic Fundraising



In these monthly sessions, you’ll get a chance to engage with your peers, learn from others, and make new friends facing the same challenges.


Hundreds of fundraisers and administrators have already joined and now they can:
  • Ask questions
  • ​Contribute by answering questions
  • ​Develop new relationships


  • 20.5 points for completing the entire course with Dr. James
  • 2.5 points for completing the FAST TRACK version


No problem. Start with the Fast Track version. Then do a deep dive later.
This consolidated version of the training blends Dr. James’ four intensive modules into just 2.5 hours - a perfect overview for those who are short on time.

It’s also great for administrators, leaders, board members, volunteers and program staff. While they don’t need to become better fundraisers, they do need to understand what fundraisers do.

When you involve them in the Fast Track, they’ll gain an understanding of fundraising that will help break down silos and get everyone rowing in the same direction.

Plus, you can get 2.5 CFRE credits for completing this overview version of the course.

What Will I Learn For 20.5 CFRE Credits? 

The Socratic Fundraiser 

The first topic gets right to the practicals, and you'll learn how to specifically and methodically apply all the ideas you'll learn throughout this re-imagined approach to fundraising. This is where you learn the right questions to ask.

The Socratic Fundraiser gives you the blueprint to create the perfect script for every situation you encounter when working with donors.

You'll walk away with hundreds – yes HUNDREDS – of experimentally-backed questions to use with potential donors at various stages of the process. The key stages you'll cover are: 
  • Identifying prospects who are positioned to give large gifts – both financially and mentally
  • Getting them to be willing to meet
  • ​Planning what to say in that first meeting
  • ​Getting a second meeting
  • ​Keeping the conversation going – no awkward silences
  • ​Building trust
  • ​Getting permission to ask for the gift
  • ​Knowing when to ask for a gift
  • ​Knowing how to ask for a gift, and what to say and do based on their reaction
  • ​Having a plan for after a gift has been given or pledged
In this module, you'll receive a treasure trove of questions to use in every one of these stages of the process.

For instance, there are questions that match the ideal giving method with each donor’s values, desires, and motivations. 

Remember the disagreement within the fundraising world about foundations and DAFs from earlier? Well, these aren’t right for some donors. But they are absolutely the best giving method for others.

In this course, you’ll find out exactly when to use these sorts of tools, and when you can easily steer clear of them.

In addition, you’ll get:
  • A 3-part template for the closing ‘ask’ – with TONS of examples
  • 3 questions that encourage donors to meet with you
  • 3 conversation killers that will button up major donors in a microsecond
  • ​How to respond when donors turn down a meeting
  • ​Right and wrong ways to ask follow up questions 
  • ​The ultimate question that gives the victory to the donor (and your organization!), and what to do when their answer falls short
  • ​13 survey question formats that tap into the donor’s hero story
There’s so much meat – meaning practical and immediately useful skills and strategies – in this module that we can barely scratch the surface here.

For instance, what do you say when a donor has already designated a gift in their will? How can you make them WANT to go back in and increase the amount? You’ll find out in this first course.

You’ll learn how to shift the conversation to wealth – meaning non-cash assets – and how to do this without making the donor clam up.

There’s also a surprising reason to make the donor wait before they give. You read that right. After they verbally agree to give – make them wait.

You’ll learn the power of silence and the precise moment to use it. A point-by-point guide for what to do when a major donor says no. Five common major gift objections, and what to say in response to each. What to do after the ask, regardless of whether they gave. Words to avoid at all costs when asking for a planned gift, and how to make sure you don’t avoid talking about death.

In fact, you’ll get 8 research-backed methods for bringing up the question of planned gifts, and none of them make anyone squirm.

There’s even a fundraising script example bringing all this together that would have worked on Tony Soprano. And he decides to give!

The Storytelling Fundraiser

In the second module, you’ll encounter two things:
  • Incredible, game-changing claims about major gifts fundraising
  • ​Tons of experimental data backing up each claim
Experimental data comes from actual fundraising experiments as well as from Dr. James’ neuroimaging studies. For example, you’ll see 11 scientific experiments that decode empathy, so you can learn how to empathize with the donor, and help them to empathize with your cause.

You’ll also discover why math kills fundraising, and six ways to overcome the ‘numbers barrier.’

Dr. James draws analogies from popular movies that exemplify the ‘hero myth,’ as well as storytelling experts such as Joseph Campbell and Robert McKee. Campbell worked with George Lucas as Lucas was developing the very first Star Wars film, and called Lucas his greatest student ever.

Throughout the course, you'll find out how you can use the same power behind Star Wars in your work as a fundraiser.

Inside The Storytelling Fundraising, we'll reveal five powerful reasons why trusts, foundations, and DAFs are so attractive to donors, and why ignoring these reasons can cost your nonprofit millions. There is a segment of fundraisers who resist these sorts of giving methods because it goes against their worldview. But wealthy donors aren’t drawn to these tools simply because of the financial benefits.

There is FAR more to it than that. These tools can play a key role in what Dr. James refers to as the hero story of the donor.

Next, you’ll find out what brain imaging has to say about why people give, and how you can use this knowledge in your very next meeting with a donor.

The Storytelling Fundraising also teaches you:
  • The dirty little secret your donors will never tell you about overhead expenses
  • Shocking statistics about what happens when you ask for money less often
  • How complexity kills fundraising – but why charities still love talking about it
  • ​3 questions you can ask that will turn small gifts into bigger ones
  • ​How vagueness kills fundraising – and the tool that dispels it
You may have noticed a trend here – a lot of things can kill fundraising. Math, complexity, vagueness.

These are some of the reasons major gifts fundraisers are so often frustrated, burnt out, and at their wits end trying to find better ways to connect with donors.

In the Donor Story: Epic Fundraising ecourse, you will see clear cut evidence for how these forces kill fundraising, and how to never avoid these traps.

The Epic Fundraiser

Here’s where Dr. James starts pulling great depth and insight from timeless films such as Star Wars, The Matrix, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter. The lessons drawn from these films can help fundraisers like you be happy, confident, empowered, and motivated, and to no longer feel like quitting your job within 16 months – the industry average, according to Dr. James’ data.

We move away from the scientific evidence of The Storytelling Fundraiser and dive deep into mapping universal story elements of timeless epics onto your role as a fundraiser, and in how you interact with donors.

You’ll find out that there is a villain in your donor’s hero story. It’s a surprising villain, and very hard to defeat. There’s also a story-based reason to change your job title immediately, and stop calling yourself a fundraiser, especially when speaking with potential donors.

Next, you’ll learn the rip-your-hair-out reason why revenue always drops after your organization receives a large grant, and how easy it is to avoid this common problem.

The Epic Fundraiser reveals the ‘right’ amount to ask for when suggesting how much a major donor should give. And yes, there really is a right amount, and Dr. James will show you why.

Right now, your job is filled with metrics. Some of them are worthless. Some of them are very valuable. Dr. James will help you sort these out so you can focus on the powerful metrics, and ignore the rest.

And, have you ever heard some expert try to draw parallels between the business world and the nonprofit world? While there are a few similarities, there are also a lot of things that work great in business, but fail miserably in fundraising.

Dr. James explains that out of 20 common business account practices, only one results in better retention, stronger relationships, greater donor satisfaction, and more revenue, when applied to the nonprofit world.

But that one practice is a doozy, and it relates directly to helping the donor tell their epic life story.

The Primal Fundraiser

In the final module, Dr. James pulls the curtain back on basic human psychology, things that are part of the fabric of our being and that has been there for thousands of years. He’ll even show you what fig wasps and fungi can teach you about fundraising.

For example, donors give more when they feel like the person their gift will help is just like them in some way. This could be location, as in, sharing a common hometown or country. It could be political, religious, behavior-based, favorite music – all sorts of things.

The point is, whatever commonalities you can find that are shared by your donor and the people their gift will help – use it! As always, Dr. James reveals incredible experimental data backing up this claim.

And commonalities don’t apply only to the person benefiting from the gift. They also apply to you! Did you know it might matter, for example, if a female fundraiser asks a female donor for a major gift, compared to a male fundraiser? You’ll see data that shows how big a difference such simple commonalities can make.

This modules also reveals:
  • The giving campaign that outperforms matching gifts
  • When you should consider torturing your donors (the right way…)
  • The 5 most important traits to look for when hiring (and paying!) a major gifts fundraiser
  • ​The one thing you should be doing with donors before they make a major gift
  • ​The power of community – how sharing is different from giving
The primal fundraiser is about identity – who your donor is, and how they see themselves. When you learn how to connect on this primal level with a donor, you will tap into emotions, desires, fears, and longings that far eclipse tax benefits.

And in this module, you’ll discover how to cement the bond between donor identity to action – in a single sentence!

Engage with the Donor Story: Epic Fundraising eCourse in whatever way works best for you!

  • When you enroll, you gain an opportunity to get CFRE credits (also known as points). 
  • Then, you can add up to 5 more team members and they can gain the opportunity to get CFRE credits too for just $25. 
  • Finally, after the first 5 team members are added for $25, you can add an unlimited number of team members for FREE (although they will not be able to get CFRE credits). 

Plus, you'll also get access to these incredible bonuses...

Bonus #1 – Words that Work

Threaded through all of Dr. James’ work is the power of words. Stories are told with words. Whether you’re writing them or saying them, the words you use matter.

And when your goal is to connect and empathize with wealthy donors and motivate them to want to give large gifts to your organization, the words you use matter. A LOT!

Words that Work also comes from Dr. James’ research. It’s a presentation he did a while back based on his neuroimaging research. He shares data that reveals which words cause specific sections of the brain to light up and inspire people to think about philanthropy and generosity.

Nothing is more practical than learning which words work best when communicating with potential donors.

In this 1-hour webinar, which on its own is worth $297, you’ll get a complete array of words that work for a variety of situations.

In addition to the webinar recording, you’ll also get slides from the original presentation and a companion eBook.

Bonus #2 – How to Raise Major Gifts of Assets

Do wealthy donors have money you don’t even know about?

A tiny fraction of people in the world give nearly all the charitable gifts, when talking about actual monetary value.

But what too many major gifts fundraisers forget or overlook is that most of that wealth isn’t cash. For people who have high net worth, most of their wealth is held in assets like property, stocks, retirement accounts like IRAs, life insurance, and business equity.

If you and other fundraisers at your organization are focusing only on monetary gifts, you are actually ignoring the biggest bags of money.

And the thing is, no matter what people give, they give a percentage of what seems right to them.

For example, suppose there’s a donor who has $15 million in net worth, and $1 million of that is in cash, like traditional bank accounts. If you only ask for direct cash or check donations, that person will give out of the $1 million. But they aren’t going to give all of it. That’s not how people think. It doesn’t matter if they have $14 million in other assets. That doesn’t feel the same as the cash.

So, they’ll give you a percentage from the $1 million.

And they will leave untouched – because YOU didn’t bring it up – the other $14 million in non-cash assets.

This 90-minute webinar recording, also from Dr. James and worth $247, is about re-orienting your thinking around wealth. This bonus also comes with the slides from the original presentation.

Bonus #3 – How to Land Meetings

Ultimately, this is what it comes down to. And while Donor Story: Epic Fundraising gives outstanding ideas – especially in Module 4 – for how to increase your success rate at getting meetings, this isn’t the primary focus of the course.

In this webinar, which also comes with slides and an eBook, you get to dive deep into this one crucial step in the fundraising process, so you can become more proficient at turning leads into meetings.

What you’ll learn in Donor Story: Epic Fundraising will help you increase your success rate once you get to that meeting, but this bonus webinar explores every facet of the uniquely challenging process of getting the donor in the room.

This webinar is worth $97.





You’re Protected With Our 30-Day Risk-Free Guarantee!

We want you to feel safe. You have 30 days to try the course and, if you’re not satisfied, send us an email and we’ll issue you a full refund.

Frequently Asked Questions...

I want to sign up for the course, but I’m too busy to go through it right now. How long do I have access to the course for? 

You have one year to go through the course. After that, the course renews each year, and you can cancel at any time.

Although, remember, the course includes a Fast Track version that takes only a little more than 2 hours to complete. That's about the length of a movie! So, we recommend those who are short on time try the Fast Track first. Then take a deep dive into the rest later.

How does the renewal work?

After one year, your subscription will automatically renew. You can cancel the renewal at any time and still retain access for the remainder of your current subscription. We will send you emails notifying you that your subscription is about to renew so you won’t get surprised by the new charge.

How much will the course cost?

The price is regularly $1,997. However deep discounts are offered during our bi-annual registration drive periods.(a few weeks, twice each year — summer and winter).

At those times, the course will usually be offered at just $999.

You can also add up to 5 co-workers or board members for just $25 and they'll each earn CFRE Credits too.

Then, after the $25 is paid you can add an unlimited number of additional co-workers, volunteers, and board members for FREE if they do not need CFRE Credits.

Is there a group price if we want several members of our staff to take the course?

Yes, and it’s amazing! Once the first person has signed up, you can add up to five additional people for just $25 ($5 each), and each of them can then earn the same CFRE credits. 

Then, you can add additional people at no cost whatsoever for a full year of renewable access, including the CFRE Credits. 

In fact, you can add an unlimited number of employees, volunteers, and board members*

*You just cannot share your login with people working for other organizations.

What if I have not completed the course when my one year is up?

You will have three choices:

1. You can just let your course subscription renew so you get another year to complete the course and to encourage others to take the course too (at pretty much no extra cost).

2. You can take the Fast Track version right away. Remember, it only requires a little more than 2 hours to complete. 

3. Or, you can clear your schedule for a few days and do your best to finish as much as possible before your time is up. If you select this, the best approach is to plan ahead and schedule a few hours every week to work through the 4 modules. By doing this, you won’t have any trouble finishing with plenty of time to spare. And those will be some of the best hours of your week!

Is there anything I have to attend in person?

No, the entire eCourse happens online, and includes videos, worksheets, six live Q&A sessions, and an exclusive, private community that you’ll have access to even after you’ve completed the course within 12 months. 

You don’t have to travel anywhere or ever even leave your home if that’s your preference, and you will be getting the full eCourse experience. 

Attending our live 'Mastermind Mixers' sessions is not mandatory. But they are a free bonus that most folks enjoy tremendously. Participation is highly recommended.

Do I get CFRE credits?

Yes, Dr. James’ Donor Story: Epic Fundraising ecourse is worth 20.5 CFRE credits for the 20.5 hour version, and 2.5 CFRE credits if you do the Fast Track (2.5 hour) version.

What if the ecourse isn’t what I thought it was going to be?

We offer a 30-day money back guarantee. So once you buy the course, start on it as soon as you can and skim through the modules. We’re pretty confident this might be the best CFRE credits you have ever earned, but if not, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Will Dr. James be part of the ecourse?

Yes – he produced the videos and wrote the core materials. He will not be part of the live Q&A sessions, but he will be participate in some of the Mastermind Mixers coming up in the near future.

Do I get access to all the mini-courses and the Fast Track version?

Yes! You get full access to both, so you can go through the course in whatever manner works best for you.

Dr. Russell James – Hall of Fame Charitable Giving Researcher

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Russell James, he holds a Ph.D. in consumer economics from the University of Missouri, where he wrote his dissertation on charitable giving. This has been a passion in his own life for decades, and you now get to benefit from that passion as he reveals the very best of his life’s work through the Donor Story: Epic Fundraising ecourse.

In the past, he worked as the Director of Planned Giving for Central Christian College for six years, and then as president of the same college. During his time there, the college completed two major capital campaigns, built several debt-free new buildings, and more than tripled enrollment.

He’s been published in over 75 peer-reviewed scientific journals and law reviews, and has been quoted in The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC News, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

More recently, his financial neuroimaging research was profiled in the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine. He has written multiple books, including:
  • Visual Planned Giving: An Introduction to the Law & Taxation of Charitable Gift Planning, and
  • Inside the Mind of the Bequest Donor: A Visual Presentation of the Neuroscience and Psychology of Effective Planned Giving Communication.
Most recently, in 2021 Dr. James was given the great honor of being one of three people selected for The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners Hall of Fame.

Let's Recap What's Included: 

Entire Donor Story: Epic Fundraising eCourse, including:

Training videos by Dr. Russell James - 21.5 hours and 20.5 CFRE credits
Condensed Fast-track course - 2.5 hours and 2.5 CFRE credits
Worksheets to help your learning journey
One-year subscription

$1,997 value

Live Monthly Mastermind Mixers

$1,000 value

Words That Work webinar, slides, eBook

$297 value

How to Raise Major Gifts of Assets webinar, slides

$247 value

How to Land Meetings webinar, slides, eBook

$97 value

Donor Story: Epic Fundraising Community Chat / Q&A


Total Value of Complete Course


Today's Investment


Today's Investment


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