Grappling With Growth
“So far this system is working with our local clubs. We’re going to continue testing in Los Angeles County for the balance of 2006 and make some conscious decisions about it in 2007,” Aschermann says, adding that BGCA plans to continue launching appeals in concert with local clubs.
“That’s really where the rubber meets the road, at the clubs, where the child’s served,” he says. “It’s much easier to communicate with donors through local clubs. And we know the donor wants her money to stay locally.”
Beyond annual campaigns
BGCA has tested individual- and planned-giving programs in conjunction with small pilot groups of clubs. In 2004, the organization, in partnership with 19 clubs, tested a national individual-giving drive called “It Just Takes One,” Aschermann says, reporting that the participating clubs doubled their fundraising dollars from individuals — a success that then prompted 250 clubs last year to roll out the program. Notably in 2005, gifts from 2,562 individual donors amounted to $36 million.
Aschermann describes the individual-giving program as “the basic fundamentals of individual fundraising created in a very usable, small box.” Two rules of thumb that his team learned in rolling out this drive: Board members must give first, and then must conduct as many face-to-face meetings as possible with donors.
“As you increase face-to-face solicitation, you exponentially increase success and dollars,” he says. “Face-to-face meetings with donors are a primary ask strategy on the national and local level for BGCA.
“We’re hoping all of our clubs will implement this program in 2007,” he adds. “A primary focus in the centennial year is institutionalizing individual fundraising drives at the club level.”
In the mid 1990s, Aschermann says, BGCA’s planned-giving strategy left something to be desired.
“We pretended, like many nonprofits do, that we had a planned-giving program,” he explains. “You know, ‘If you leave us something in your will, we can take care of it.’ But nothing aggressive.”