A dear friend of mine was listening to one or more of my many stories. She said, “You should write a book called Bob Wisdom.” Well, I have written a few books I thought were wise, but apparently she didn’t!This got me thinking about how I do think a lot about fundraising. In fact, I don’t know anyone who thinks about it more. I just may write that book soon. In the meantime, here I’ll share a few odds and ends that may qualify as wisdom that I’ve picked up over the years so I don’t forget them.Take pictures. If you don’t take a picture the event never happened. You let it disappear into thin air and rely on memory. Pictures make sure you are remembered and re-remembered. With today’s technology it is so easy. Have you ever finished an event, or have a donor with your CEO and said, “Gee, I wish I had taken a picture”? If so, you’ve never worked for me.Single and childless people are among the most generous at death. While only 5 percent of Americans give at death, single and childless have a 50 percent rate. Have you ever thought about who you know that fits this profile? If you have children, you need to be aware that you generally don’t know or socialize with people who don’t. Realize this and change it.Look for women in your constituency who use the prefix “Miss.” Lo These prospects are obviously single and don’t have children. They are a gold mine. One client found 300 such donors and resulted in 13 one million dollar or more gifts.Know who walks in your door. A wealthy but modest friend of mine was very sick and went to that well known clinic in Minnesota, (got it?). I was with him as he signed in at the clinic and as he was providing all of his information I remarked that they would be calling him at three that afternoon because they would have already run him through their wealth screening. Interestingly, at about 3 p.m. they called to see how his day went. Coincidence? I think not. His alma mater has not figured out that he loves them and would make a nice gift if they just paid some level of attention to him.Wealth screening is good business. While it’s not the answer to every question, it can certainly answer some of them. And, it’s become fairly routine in most institutions today. A good friend had the luxury of reading his own wealth screening document that was inadvertently attached to a collection of papers sent to him by the nonprofit. What a nice guy. Instead of being offended, he was amused. He corrected it and sent it back. By the way, don’t adopt this strategy! His institution got lucky. Very lucky.Anyone who knows me, knows I love these little bits of wisdom and stories that make rookie fundraisers pay attention, and smart fundraisers smarter. If you’ve been around a while like I have, you can sure spot the good fundraisers. I don’t know if it’s intuition, a keen eye, social intelligence, DNA or good old fashioned common sense. All I know is, some people have it and some people don’t.
Photo credits: National WWI Museum
President and Trustee
The Sunderland Foundation
Recipient of the
2018 GROWING PHILANTHROPY AWARD FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL CAPITAL PHILANTHROPY
Kent Sunderland was presented with the prestigious Growing Philanthropy Award in Kansas City by Hartsook President and CEO
Matthew J. Beem during National WWI Museum and Memorial’s VIP event, Night at the Tower.
He was nominated by Matthew Naylor, Ph.D., President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, and was selected unanimously by Hartsook Institutes and the International Board of Visitors Growing Philanthropy Committee.
Kent was Vice Chairman of Ash Grove Cement prior to its recent sale. As President of The Sunderland Foundation, he has played a significant role in advancing philanthropy with major gifts.
The Growing Philanthropy Award recognizes a distinguished group of individuals and organizations whose efforts increase philanthropy through research, innovation and challenging the status quo. For more information, contact [email protected].