Word-of-Mouth Advertising Really Does Work
I have been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) since 1982 and am honored to be a former board member and president of the Indiana Chapter of AFP. I was also a previous mentor chair of the Greater Dayton Ohio AFP Chapter.
One Philanthropy Day when I was a member of both organizations, I attended both the Dayton and Indianapolis AFP events. The Association of Fundraising Professionals is an excellent 54-year-old organization with more than 30,000 members internationally. Each year members generate $100 billion.
There are approximately 5,000 fundraisers with the certified fundraising executive (CFRE) designation, with the majority of them being AFP members. The AFP promotes the profession like no other organization! Each year there are many opportunities for both young and old professionals to engage and continue to grow in the profession. When I attend an AFP meeting, I leave inspired and proud of my membership shield. There is constant movement from young professionals entering the field to old soldiers who retire. These senior professionals leave a legacy for others to follow.
I recently received a call from a dear friend and colleague. He asked that I meet an individual looking for a position in the not-for-profit arena. As I never say no and he knows it, I happily met the individual. At the end of the meeting I told him I would contact four other people for him to meet. In one day, I heard from three of the four people all willing to meet with the prospective candidate. How many fields of endeavor have such respect and joy in helping others?
I knew the four contacts would meet with the prospective candidate. Sharing information and promoting the profession are in our blood. As a senior professional, friends of mine are just beginning to retire. All I can say is well done, good and faithful servants. When my breakfast ended with the individual seeking advice, he asked me how he could help me. I told him please pay an act of kindness forward with a stranger without expectation of return.
These days, when I attend an Indiana Chapter of AFP luncheon, I find that many of the attendees have between zero and seven years of service. I have learned that the speaker drives the attendance figure. I was excited to attend a recent Indiana AFP lunch that featured a panel discussion. The panel included three veterans who were well-known community leaders and board members who have been a part of many organizations and capital campaigns. More than 140 people attended this outstanding and informative lunch. Most impressive was the fact that the audience that day was primarily senior-level professionals. It was like old home week, as I saw several people I had not seen in many years even though we live in the same town.
I was so proud of the comments made at the podium. These board members unanimously said that in their careers, the recent $30 million Indianapolis Zoological Society capital campaign that exceeded goal by $4 million was "textbook" in its success. The centerpiece of the campaign was to acquire funding for the creation of an Orangutan Center, and much of the campaign's success was due to word-of-mouth awareness of the project. Having been involved in many capital campaigns through the years, I rarely hear the word "textbook." My hat goes off to Ted Grossnickle, Angela White and Tim Ardillo of the consulting firm Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates and Karen Burns, senior vice president of the Indianapolis Zoological Society, plus the board, staff, volunteers, donors and others who made this "textbook" campaign a word to remember.
Trust me, this word-of-mouth advertising is priceless, and I am proud of the success, which in reality, is success for the entire profession!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.