Cover Story: Worth The Gamble
Secondly, the large number of untapped donors in Las Vegas, and the reason for that. When the NVCI started contacting potential donors, Gitomer asked them why they had never given a gift as big as the one the NVCI was asking for. Their response: “I was never asked.”
To avoid losing momentum once the 20-month construction period started, the NVCI switched its fundraising focus slightly. Being able to lead donors through an actual building that’s taking shape can be a big boost to fundraising efforts, but concentrate on it too much and potential donors might think you have all the money you need.
To counteract that possibility, the NVCI began focusing more on the programs than the property.
“We knew from a fundraising point of view that the day the building opened, we couldn’t keep raising money for the building,” Gitomer explains. “The message was we’re going from opening a building to opening a cancer center. This was something our donors needed to know.
“The problem we were afraid of — but it didn’t happen because we planned for it — was that you never want someone to look at the opening of a building as the culmination of your efforts,” she adds. “We wanted them to view it as the beginning of our efforts, so we were careful to shift to the people and programs, as if to say the building is a platform for what we need to accomplish.”
Also woven into Gitomer’s message to donors is that the NVCI already is planning for the next building.
Going beyond the basics
So far, the NVCI’s fundraising program has emphasized major giving, which focuses on million-dollar gifts, but also includes donations of $100,000 and up. These donations chiefly come from the private sector, from individuals and corporations. The organization also receives some funding from medical professionals and researchers who come to work there, bringing with them research and development grants.