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.
The Most Influential ‘Living Person’ in Philanthropy
Robert F. Hartsook Receives Honorary Doctorate of Business
Plymouth University, United Kingdom
Bob Hartsook was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by Plymouth University in Plymouth, England. The University described Bob as: “arguably the most influential living person improving the philanthropic donor experience.” Such global affirmation appropriately recognizes Bob and uniquely distinguishes Hartsook as the world’s fundraising counsel.”
Plymouth University honors individuals who have achieved great distinction in their professional lives and who have made contributions to society at large. In recognizing Bob Hartsook’s impressive achievements, the University has highlighted his service to the field of philanthropy, his promotion of academic study and research and his personal commitment to growing philanthropy around the world. Go here to learn more and view videos from this event.
Pictured: Karin Cox, Hartsook Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer; Julian Chaudhuri, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience; Bob Hartsook; Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Fundraising at Plymouth University and the Director of the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Jen Shang, Philanthropic Psychologist and Director of Research at the University of Plymouth Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy; Matthew J. Beem, Hartsook President and CEO.