Driving Home the Point
“We had created kind of a welfare state within the organization,” Heard explains. “Some chapters sat back and waited for their checks to come in.
“I realized early on, within the first six months, that if we were going to improve our financial picture, we had to change our culture,” he adds. “There were so many people within the organization that viewed fundraising as a negative, as a bad thing that we had to do. No one wanted to ask for money. We had volunteers who would say, ‘I didn’t come here to raise money.’”
Heard made it his goal to meet with the leaders of his regional affiliates around the country to remind them that without money, the mission they are so passionately committed to could cease to exist. MADD’s new mantras became “Fundraising is everybody’s business” and “More money means more mission.”
Then he met with the development directors of other far-reaching organizations, including the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood and St. Jude’s Hospital for Children, to share ideas about fundraising strategies. Heard used information culled from those tete-a-tetes to piece together a five-point plan to “identify new opportunities for fundraising that we historically had not focused on.”
“It was really wonderful how these people were willing to open their doors and talk about their strategies. I was very lucky because I had tapped into some great minds,” Heard explains. “Development isn’t rocket science. You find the things that work and put them into place in your organization.”
MADD’s national board of directors adopted the plan in 2003. In its simplest form, the strategy emphasizes:
- Building the capacity of local affiliates to raise unrestricted dollars;
- Launching a national signature special event;
- Establishing a national memorial giving program;
- Actively marketing a bequests program; and
- Establishing a major-gifts outreach effort to cultivate those donors that are identified through direct marketing as having the capacity to make larger gifts.
Part one: Empowerment
In order to empower MADD’s affiliates, the national leadership held weeklong “fundraising institutes” to introduce volunteers and staff members to the initiative and followed those up with monthly phone conferences on various fundraising topics, monthly coaching calls and one-on-one calls.