Grappling With Growth
For example, donors have always created an interesting problem for BGCA: Who owns them — the national organization or the individual clubs in the communities where donors live? Part of BGCA’s national strategy is to help its clubs raise awareness and funds in their communities, but Aschermann’s team had to figure out where to go from there.
Case in point: BGCA currently has a very small direct-mail program out of its national office, with quarterly mailings that go out to a housefile of only 8,000 names. Aschermann would like to grow the program but says the problem a national organization like BGCA faces is every potential donor is in a local club or affiliate’s backyard.
“Every dime we raise, a local club can say we’re taking money away from it. That’s not necessarily true since local clubs may not have a sophisticated enough fundraising effort to reach out to donors,” he says. “But, perception’s reality. So we’ve struggled to figure out how to run a direct-mail campaign that would benefit both the national office and local clubs.”
To that end, in 2005 Aschermann’s team asked 26 clubs in California’s Los Angeles County to help the national office test a BGCA-funded direct-mail program.
“They’re a skeptical and tough group,” he says. “They were asking us, ‘What are we getting from our national office?’”
From the beginning, the national office and participating clubs set ground rules about who owns the donor. The clubs committed to placing donations generated from this program into a revolving fund for five years. The national office would receive 15 percent of the donations, with the rest staying local. If a donor mentions a specific local club in response to the direct-mail appeal, that donor’s name is forever owned by that local club, even though his gift goes into the revolving fund.