Monday, February 20, 2012

Fund Raising – It’s Easy!

 Are you a fundraiser?  Do you help with fund raising events?  Are your children members of any clubs or organizations?  Are you?  Almost everyone is a fundraiser in some fashion.  And most everyone will tell you they hate to have to raise money.  I used to say that myself! 
“Asking someone for money?  Are you kidding?  I’d rather have a root canal!”  When I had to sell Girl Scout cookies as a kid, my dad used to help by taking my many unsold boxes to his place of work and selling them to his colleagues.  Sound familiar?
So why are we all so afraid of what is really an easy thing to do?  Fund raising is easy!  Fund raising is nothing more than asking for help and support.  And any not-for-profit organization has, by law, a worthwhile mission that deserves support.  Right?  When we think about it, how could anyone refuse any appeal for help?
If that’s the case, why do we have to be asking for money all the time?  Don’t we all know we should just send money to all the charitable organizations in our community?  Well, fact of the matter is, we don’t.  We wait to be asked.  And that’s where knowing the ins and outs of fund raising techniques is so important.
If you – or the clubs and organizations you care about – are having a hard time securing the dollars you need, consider the following:
·         Are you asking for money?
·         Are you asking the right people?
·         Are you asking the right way?
·         Do you know how to prioritize your time and resources?
·         Are you using a variety of fund raising techniques?
Some familiarity with a few of the basics of fund raising will help you decide what type of fund raising you can undertake, and get better results from your efforts.  The various techniques for raising money include annual appeals, person-to-person asks for major gifts, foundation grants, corporate and business support, special events, and planned gifts.  Even if you are simply a volunteer who shows up to help when asked, familiarity with these techniques will help you better understand what the organization you care about is trying to accomplish and how.  Who knows, you might even begin to think that fund raising is fun instead of scary!
                Go ahead.  Be brave.  Help raise some money for a worthy cause.  You can do it.  It’s easy!

Need a short one to two hour consultation?  We offer both telephone and in-person consults at very reasonable rates.  Or sponsor ABCs of Fund Raising!  Contact me for a quote to bring a half-day or full-day seminar to your community. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Little Old Ladies in Sneakers, And Other Surprise Donors

when Joan Kroc left an extraordinary bequest of over $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army a few years ago, I was reminded of so many stories I’ve heard over the years about even more surprising gifts from less likely prospects.

In her way, Mrs. Kroc was a surprise donor – despite her great wealth – because of her gender.  While her husband was still living, she was frequently overlooked by charities because she was a woman and was treated as a mere conduit to her husband.  Woe to those charities – and there were a few – that made that mistake with her!  However, she was known to be very rich, and to be philanthropic.

It’s the “little old ladies in sneakers” that we need to pay attention to.  Like the housekeeper who left a $250,000 bequest to a college in Mississippi.  Who knew?  Well, even if no one knew, she was obviously treated kindly and with respect by university staff, and that paid off!

Many people who live an obviously affluent life style may not have much left over for charity after all the bills are paid.  But some people, like a couple I once worked with, hold the greatest potential for bequests and other planned gifts.  They were retired schoolteachers who lived modestly, passing under the radar of any fundraiser.  Yet, because they had benefitted from the generosity of others when they were children, they had a desire to give back.  And their frugal lifestyle made it possible for them to arrange to give my community foundation a cash bequest of over $300,000, and as well as a life estate gift of their home which had an appraised value in excess of $250,000.

Then there was the retired doctor who lived with his wife in a modest apartment near his office, and who gave a small college a gift of over $1 million – the largest gift from a single donor in the school’s history.  He was not an alumnus of that college.  Yet, because the college development office recognized the signs of a good prospect, and cultivated a relationship, he chose the school over his own alma mater and the hospital where he had spent his career. 

What are the signs of a potential large donor?

1.    Does your prospect seem to live exceptionally modestly and/or frugally relative to his/her career?
2.    Does your prospect have children who are already very successful?  One $100,000 gift of stock from a retired schoolteacher was made at the urging of his successful son.  Philanthropy is fun, and this son wanted his father to enjoy the results his gift made possible.
3.    Does your prospect seem to welcome your visits and enjoy activities to which he/she is invited?  This is a sign he/she is lonely and welcomes friendship.
4.    Does your prospect exhibit a real love for your cause?  Like the university housekeeper, he/she deserves your attention.

Pay attention to the less than obvious prospects, cultivate them, and – perhaps – you’ll be the next recipient of that large bequest from the surprise donor.  Don’t judge a person’s worth by his or her appearance. 

Need a short one to two hour consultation?  We offer both telephone and in-person consults at very reasonable rates.  Or sponsor ABCs of Fund Raising!  Contact me for a quote to bring a half-day or full-day seminar to your community.