Cover Story: Worth The Gamble
“For us to ask for such a large gift, the cause would have to be something as big as this [cancer], as critical as this, something everyone could relate to,” she explains. “Almost everyone we talked to had some kind of cancer story. Many of the people we solicited actually left town for cancer treatment, either for themselves or for a family member.
“We were also in a state where a mayor had left for breast cancer treatment, and three governors left to be treated for prostate cancer.”
What also helped, she says, was getting some of those first large gifts.
“Some of our early strategy was saying to people, ‘We need a leader. Someone has to go first. And if someone goes first, others will follow.’ Before we even had a location, the first five gifts came in on our dream and our vision, and nothing more,” Gitomer says. “We didn’t have an exact sketch of the building and we didn’t have an exact location, but we had a lot of good statistics, and we knew we could substantiate the need for a cancer center. But first we had to convince them we needed leaders.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Gitomer and Murren approached their first donors face to face. And that old fundraising adage, that you get 90 percent of your donations from 10 percent of the people, applied here. Gitomer says 90 percent of their time was spent working with a small donor group.
Getting those first three to five gifts under its belt was very important to the NVCI. What was even more important was digging the hole for the building and being able to see the beams beginning to rise up.
“We were able to see it, feel it, touch it. That made it much easier to call people,” Gitomer says.