Cover Story: Feeding the Need
It’s a development office’s dream: You’re a nice-sized nonprofit and you score some big corporate and foundation partners who start throwing money at you.
Sweet. Lots more cash in your coffers. Lots more people getting help.
But what about when those project grants time out? If you’ve put too many of your fundraising eggs into that big-ticket basket, you might find yourself a yolk or two short of an omelet somewhere down the line.
America’s Second Harvest, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, has teamed up with some heavy hitters over the past few years, including the ConAgra Feed Children Better Foundation; The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which helped fund a big technology project; and the Starr Foundation in New York City.
All of that extra cash on the corporate and foundation side was a blessing for A2H, of course, but the puffed-up numbers made the funds coming in from other legs of the development plan look, well, puny. Direct marketing, especially, left something to be desired.
In the late 1990s A2H’s direct marketing program was pulling in roughly half of the organization’s contributed revenue each year, according to A2H Vice President of Philanthropy Dan Delany. But then the focus turned to corporate and foundation giving, and the direct marketing side plummeted.
“Suddenly the individual side [of the program] had fallen far out of whack versus philanthropy overall,” Delany says. “A lot of organizations never reach the 75 percent mark for individual giving, but we didn’t want it to be this low; it was close to only 20 percent.
“We wanted to get things balanced again,” he adds. “Corporate and foundation gifts are great. But they’re more project specific and, if they’re time sensitive, once that goes away, you need more balance.
A shift in focus
By late 2003, Delany says, A2H’s direct marketing had pulled in $12.5 million, or 44 percent of contributed income. To get those results, A2H “elevated the quality of the entire program.”