Grappling With Growth
So far, Aschermann says, BGCA’s use of opt-out e-mail hasn’t been very robust, but he recognizes its power to reach donors.
“We know that direct mail works, and that there’s a science behind it,” he says. “But we also know that a clear, specific, three-and-a-half line e-mail to a potential donor that says, ‘We need your help. We’ve lost every club in the Gulf. Nineteen Boys and Girls Clubs were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Can you help us?’ works. And is far more effective in my opinion. Simplicity and clarity.”
E-mail fundraising, he says, will be upgraded once BGCA gets through its centennial year.
BGCA also receives a good bit of funding from corporations. There currently are 735 of them supporting BGCA, with corporate giving in 2005 amounting to $19 million. Corporate partners benefit by receiving the opportunity to make a positive impact on kids; encouraging volunteer involvement; and creating greater public awareness through publications, BGCA’s intranet, conferences, advertising and consumer promotions.
“At the national level, we’re a little bit better on our corporate fundraising than our local clubs because we have the capacity to provide national reach to a corporation,” Aschermann says.
“We created an in-house corporate fundraising operation, the Corporate Opportunities Group, and adopted some very for-profit principles of account management,” he adds.
For its centennial year, BGCA embarked on something it had never done before — a full-scale fundraising campaign. Its three-year “Hope and Opportunity Campaign,” begun in 2005, aims to raise $200 million, of which it already has garnered $125 million.
“We had a couple of pretty depressing meetings early on with the campaign leadership because they were used to doing campaigns for their colleges and universities where they had donor bases of 150,000,” Aschermann says. “We had to say, ‘We don’t have that kind of list. We have to do this campaign differently.’ We got the board ready, willing and able to do it.”