A Funny Thing Happened ...
The MJFF team currently is excited about the prospect of a recent $50 million challenge gift from two consistent, high-dollar donors. It was announced at the end of May but is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011, and will match new, lapsed and increased giving from donors at any level. Gifts from new and lapsed donors will be matched dollar for dollar, while current donors will have their increase amounts matched.
Another area where MJFF flies in the face of convention is prospecting. The organization eschews a great deal of traditional prospect research (though it does some) and finds most of its donors through traditional relationship building, much of which starts with the highly engaged members of its board and "junior board" leadership council. It also hears from many individuals who become donors that its website was one of the first places they went looking for information about Parkinson's disease following their own diagnosis or that of a loved one.
Kelly shares the story of someone who was diagnosed with Parkinson's and so impressed with the website that he made a $50,000 gift. It was a plus for both the organization and the donor, who found a place not only to get information on his diagnosis but also the built-in support of people who could understand what he was experiencing.
Not just about fundraising
That kind of win-win thinking powers much of MJFF's supporter and community touches. Like most successful fundraising entities, the organization knows there's more to supporter relationships than simply asking for money. There's no "donor as ATM" approach here.
MJFF emphasizes the importance of letting donors and other supporters know about its progress in combating Parkinson's and how their donations play a role in that. But it's thoughtful about the tone of its quarterly newsletter and other communications devices, "because there's a fine line between patting yourself on the back and showing progress," Kelly says.