The E. F. Hutton Effect: When My Campaign Chair Talked, I Listened!
As someone who has directed a number of capital campaigns, I will be the first to admit success depends on campaign leadership. Some campaigns are harder than others due to questionable leadership, lack of lead gifts, poor feasibility studies, changing economies and a host of unknown factors out of one’s control.
I am happy to report that one particular campaign was successful, and it was totally based on securing a campaign chair with the E. F. Hutton Effect. Edward Francis Hutton and his brother Franklyn Laws Hutton founded E. F. Hutton & Co., a stock brokerage company, in 1904. Later lead by Wall Street trader Gerald M. Loeb, E.F. Hutton was best known for its commercials in the 1970s and ‘80s that were based on the phrase, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” And when my campaign chair talked, I immediately listened!
Just last year, the oldest members of the baby boom generation turned 65. In 2010, there were 40 million people aged 65 and older accounting for 13 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging and Related Statistics Older Americans in 2012 report. By 2030, the number is expected to grow to 72 million and represent 20 percent of the population.
With the population quickly aging, the demand for health care services at the end of life is expected to increase dramatically. Of such services is hospice care. In anticipation of this health care need, a decision was made by St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services in Indianapolis, to build a new 25-bed, independent hospice. This hospice was state of the art with features designed for the total care of the patient and family in mind.
The hospice campaign was a tremendous success. Looking back, I learned several lessons from this experience, and it started with a lunch. At that lunch, I asked Rhonda Kittle to chair the hospice campaign. She was the wife of the late, long-time, outstanding St. Vincent Foundation Chair, James L. Kittle, Sr. As a good campaign staff director, I had no recruitment Plan B! In my mind, Rhonda was the only volunteer chair. My lunch included crossed fingers and prayers.
The reason for success of the campaign was her E. F. Hutton style. When she spoke, everyone listened. Why would she command such respect?
- She had history and knowledge of the organization.
- She had contacts and name recognition in the community.
- She had a personal experience with her husband in hospice.
- She understood the dynamics of capital campaigns.
- She had a vision of what the facility should be.
- She visited other hospices and brought the best ideas to the table.
- She loved to tell a story and recruited story tellers!
- She made a personal gift and encouraged "peers" to give.
- She recruited an experienced team and realized victory would be realized in first few lead gifts.
I knew she “got it” when, at the first facility design meeting, she threw out the design and created one with the patients’ needs in mind. The campaign goal of $5.3 million was exceeded by $1.4 million. This did not include an additional later landscape endowment gift of $1 million.
The moral of the story is simple. When you have a capital campaign, look for the E. F. Hutton Effect in a volunteer campaign leader. By finding the right campaign leader, the chances of campaign success increase tremendously!
I also suggest having a recruitment Plan “B”! Every circus has a net, and always listen before you speak!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.