How Often Do You Go to the Well?
Then that corporate foundation had a management change. I met and tried to engage the new replacement from day one but was told that the new person did not have the same interest in our organization as the former representative. That said, I was still confident the $100,000-a-year donation would continue. To my amazement, one day I received a form letter from this foundation that said our request for money was denied. The representative of the foundation would not return my call. I wanted to learn why we didn't receive the grant and what we could do to reposition the hospital for future success. There was a tremendous lesson to be learned. We became dependent on this donor and assumed the money was a slam dunk. We went to the well too many times — then it went dry.
You need to broaden your prospect list and seek multiyear pledges to secure sustained giving. You also need to continue to seek new prospects in your orbit. Cultivate and steward your donors on an ongoing basis. Be aware of changes in corporate and foundation management as this could be a red flag. Always note individual donor feelings toward your organization. Strive to remain positive and, even in defeat, understand that any grant rejection may only be temporary if you don't burn a bridge.
Do not take any gift or relationship for granted. Losing any donation hurts your organization, especially if it is an important piece of your operational budget. But you need to look at the big picture and learn from every victory and defeat. Avoid budgeting a large grant when there is uncertainty as to the outcome of the request.
I strongly recommend in the future that you not only avoid going to the same well over and over, but you invest in building new, multiple wells. Who knows, you might strike oil instead of water!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.