I can’t even sit back on a Sunday morning at Wrightsville Beach and enjoy the Sunday paper. Being consumed by thoughts of fundraising is a curse I’m certain I don’t share with many people.A recent article in the Star-News on non-profit giving in the Cape Fear region was quite timely. However, unfortunately, it missed the reality and focused on a few smaller agencies that in any time have a challenge to raise the money necessary for their mission.As the way to raise money, the special event is unsuccessful many more times than not, generally because of a lack of focus on the objective. My colleague, Karin Cox of Wilmington, is the author of a chapter on special event fundraising in a college fundraising textbook by Adrian Sargeant, the Hartsook Chair at Indiana University. This chapter focuses on the purpose of the special event, mot how to do one. A dimension of the chapter, the Cox Grid, is gaining wide acceptance as a way to evaluate special events. It invites the agency to state clearly its goal in measurable terms of raising money, educating donors, building a donor base, and appreciating donors.Karin Cox, Matt Beem, President and CEO of Hartsook Companies, Inc and I just returned from the first American Summit on Growing Philanthropy in DC sponsored by our company, our chair at Indiana and our Blackbaud, the largest data base management program for nonprofits. By invitation, 25 leaders from all the sectors of the nonprofit and philanthropic fundraising, education, and management attended.Among the early conclusions of the Summit:1. Giving for the last few years has gone down only 3% when consumer purchases have dipped in double digits.2. Current fundraising best practices exist for an increase in giving by 10 – 30%.3. Preparation of those professionals is sorely lacking.I would say that special events might not be the way small nonprofit organizations should go to raise money in Wilmington. But don’t be discouraged. With the university, hospital foundation and many others, the giving climate is robust and available.
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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