That is how we feel about our clients. Ever read the Berenstain Bears books to children? Our son, Austin, liked them a lot. If it was our turn to pick, we usually chose Learn About Strangers. Austin talked to everyone, and everyone loved talking him. (By the way, he still does). After letting him slip out of our sight a couple of times because he was engrossed in conversation, we grew very concerned about this.Austin would sit on my lap and I would read it to him, then we would go through the check list at the end of the book together. I would ask, “Austin, do you understand what to do when you see a stranger?”To which he would respond, “Yeah, Dad.”“Then why do you talk to everyone?”“They aren’t strangers, Dad! They want to be my friends.”Well, that is the way we are as a company. Our clients are our friends, our prospects become our friends, and many of our clients’ donors become friends. That is because we are genuinely interested in how we can help and be supportive of their dreams. You know what it is like to develop friendships. You have been doing it since you were born, haven’t you? In the best friendships, we say, “We are in this together.”Well, in our relationships, we are raising money together. And that, my friend, puts you in the thick of things pretty quickly.Sometimes prospects tell us, “You are so big. We are too small for you to care about us.”Nothing could be further from the truth.Sure, we are big, but we are the only consulting firm that has offered free service to struggling nonprofits in four states and the District of Columbia, helping 140 nonprofits in the first half of this year. Many were strangers—that is, until we got to know their dreams and helped them find ways to increase philanthropy, because they needed to serve those who were depending on them to fulfill their missions.We have walked side by side, “held the hands” of small nonprofits with only a few hundred thousand dollars of revenue, and helped them raise millions of dollars in a campaign.Our growth has been through helping all levels and sizes of nonprofits.Most of the people we worked with were strangers when we met. But they remained strangers only a short time. Raising money together has developed friendships that last a lifetime. More importantly, those friendships have changed lives in countless ways.Now, who wants to be friends?Let’s be friends on Facebook!
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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