“What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate” FS Advisor: July 19, 2005 By Margaret Battistelli, editor, FundRaising Success With apologies to Paul Newman’s character in “Cool Hand Luke,” that famous line could underscore the major deficiency that plagues many major-gifts appeals. In their AFP Fund Raising Day New York session, “Social Styles: Increasing Effective Personal Communications for Fundraising,” presenters Andrea Kihlstedt and Michael Page Miller stressed the importance of understanding the personality type of a potential major-gift donor before even attempting an ask. To simplify the task, consultants Kihlstedt and Miller educated attendees on the various social styles that fundraisers might encounter
Sitting squarely in the upper echelon of effective and highly respected nonprofit organizations, the Texas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. For the past decade, the nationally acclaimed drunken-driving education organization has held steady as a $47 million charity fueled in large part by direct-mail fundraising.
An impressive number, by anyone’s standards. But MADD’s top dogs read “steady” to mean “static” and decided a few years ago that the organization needed a major kick in the fundraising pants. Enter Bobby Heard, who took over as national director of programs and development in 2002.
The 2004 Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual survey cited two important trends. First: Large organizations once again outperformed smaller organizations in fundraising — no surprise there. Second: Major gifts and planned gifts are on the rise.
More than 80 percent of AFP’s 3,000 survey respondents said they expect revenue from major gifts and planned giving to remain strong or increase in 2005, while casting direct mail as essentially flat.
“If we’re going to eradicate substandard housing from the face of the earth, we need to be focused and organized.”
So says John Cerniglia from Habitat for Humanity International, which has been providing affordable housing to low-income families since 1976.
And he means it. His word choices sometimes make a face-to-face visit to a major donor sound more like a covert operation for Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt than a friendly chat between board member and prospect.
Not all leaders with vision have the ability to fund their own dreams, writes Nick G. Costa, senior vice president of fund development for Stamford Health System and author of the new book, Dream Builders: Everything You Need to Know to Achieve Your Organization’s Most Ambitious Dreams with TOP GIFTS™ Fundraising.
That dream. We’ve all had it: You’re back in school, sitting down to take the final exam, and you haven’t attended a class all semester. And the exam is on advanced Russian or trigonometry … or nuclear physics.
That’s how it can feel to walk into a major-gift meeting without being properly prepared. It’s that make-it-or-break-it moment, the final exam that will decide your grade.
Major gifts make it possible for nonprofits to perpetuate their missions, so it behooves fundraisers to gain donor trust and respect. One of the best ways to do that, according to Laura Fredericks, author of “Developing Major Gifts: Turning Small Donors Into Big Contributors,” is to be sensitive to donor concerns.