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Chris Marrion

POSTSCRIPT: This episode of Messaging on a Mission was recorded in November of 2021, five weeks before our guest’s untimely death from a heart attack. We are airing the episode to honor his memory and share his insights with those who can benefit from them. We hope it gives you a glimpse of the remarkable professional and person he was. 

For most organizations, the end of the calendar year is when you do a fundraising push. People can get that last bit of tax benefit before they file their returns. Now is the time organizations are interpreting the results of that end-of-year campaign. In this episode, we look at:

What you can learn from a campaign that exceeded expectations?

Ascertaining what went wrong when they didn’t.

Trends in annual giving campaigns, and

Some best practices around continued engagement throughout the new year.

Key Takeaways

Fundraising is both art and science.

What you learn relies a lot on what you intended to learn before you started.

Base your decisions on what you know about donor behavior and their history to identify who might be the most likely people to respond to this campaign.

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

No matter what the short-term results are, remember to consider the lifetime value of the donor.

From a data perspective, it’s important to have a baseline.

Major gifts offer an opportunity to write a short story.

If something hasn’t worked often, the first thing to do is go back and ask, was it the right? Was it the right message? Was it powerful enough to really explain what we do?

Always keep your audience first.

Have your baseline data in place before you start. Know what segments didn’t perform well, what didn’t do as well as expected, and why didn’t an experiment pay off. Then you can figure out what to do next.

Episode Guest

Christopher Marrion was a senior not-for-profit executive with more than two decades of experience as a leader in cultural organizations. Before his passing in December of 2021, he was the Vice President of Advancement for the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory, a historic theatre and presenter in Worcester, MA.

Prior to joining THTC, Chris served as the Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations at his graduate school alma mater, the Boston University College of Fine Arts. Chris served for eight years under Artistic Director Yo-Yo Ma as Deputy Director of Silkroad, where his responsibilities included strategic planning, program assessment, and fundraising for concert tours, recordings, and commissions by the Silk Road Ensemble, a multi-year education initiative in NYC public schools, and a collaboration with the Harvard Business School to promote innovative cultural enterprise. Additional experience includes Boston Lyric Opera (Director of Development), Boston Children’s Hospital (Major Gifts Officer), and AIDS Action Committee (Director of Individual Giving).

Chris studied at the New England Conservatory of Music (BM) and the Boston University College of Fine Arts (MM). Prior to entering the development field, he was a freelance musician active in the U.S. and Europe.

To remember Chris, please consider a donation to the Hanover Theater & Conservatory (, AIDS Action (, or a charity that is important to you.

Useful Links

The Hanover Theatre

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