Cover Story: Teach a Man to Fish ...
Eight hundred million. It’s a big number and a lot of money. But if you want to grasp the real magnitude of it, give that number a human face.
According to statistics released by the United Nations, 800 million represents the number of people worldwide who are chronically hungry.
It’s also, coincidentally, the amount of money that Arkansas-based Heifer International is looking to raise by 2010 in order to bolster its work as an international hunger-relief and education organization. It’s a huge leap for Heifer, which just last year had a contributed income of $62.5 million, with 80 percent of that coming in through direct mail efforts.
And even though thousands of people support Heifer through its unique catalog- and Web-based giving program each year, it probably wouldn’t reach its goal through direct mail alone.
Which is why, on Oct. 23, Heifer introduced its massive Hope for the Future campaign, a highly concerted effort with specific goals, both financial and mission based. The announcement came amid a celebratory flurry hosted by celebs such as Ted Danson and his wife, Mary Steenburgen — both supporters of Heifer. But don’t confuse all the revelry with frivolity.
The Hope for the Future campaign has been in the works for a few years and will involve every aspect of fundraising at Heifer. The main focus, however, is on its newly organized major gifts initiative. Until recently, major gifts was something of an ad hoc proposition for Heifer and responsible for a mere 3 percent to 4 percent of its contributed income.
“We’ve always received major gifts, but we haven’t had a formalized program with a dedicated staff,” explains Donna Jared, vice president of development at Heifer. “It’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve had the processes and policies in place. Revenue from major giving has doubled since last year, and we’re continuing to identify our prospects and work on cultivation plans for them. The difference is we’re now aggressively working our plans.”