One of my new friends is Rozenne Prather, Director of Communications for Truman Medical Center Foundation. Rozenne joined the Foundation after many years as CEO of Catholic Charities Foundation in Kansas City.She proudly presented me with their “Gratitude Report” to review. You know I love words and am always taken by a better way of saying something. Hers is what most of us call an Annual Report. I was impressed.But what am I supposed to say? It was already printed so there wasn’t a lot of room for review.But I was surprised when she told me that is exactly what she and her leader, Jim Dawson, wanted me to do: help them evaluate it. So, being the critic that I am, I was eager to oblige. Frankly it is a good report, but Rozanne had questioned many issues of conventional wisdom. I may not get them all, but let me list the ones that come to mind.1. The report didn’t have a traditional list of donors in the print edition. Rather, they are provided them in an electronic version accessible on the website, phone call, or a QR code. Interesting idea.2. Not to leave out major donor recognition, they were highlighted by individual stories with lots of photos and limited copy. Maybe not totally unconventional, but well done.3. The financial review was typical, but what I liked was the use of actual financial numbers and not just per cent-ages of some unknown number. This reminded me of a discussion I am having with clients who are supporting foundations; that is, they give large amounts annually to their “Mother Ship,” in this case the hospital. In doing so, they actually look like they are spending more money than they are raising. This could be a GuideStar negative evaluation trigger.4. The document contained a complete list of governance. Again, maybe this is not a big difference, but I like it because it gives donors a sense of the ownership’s fiduciary responsibility and illustrates community support.5. Finally, it was 16 pages and well done, costing about a third of their normal annual reports. This is good stewardship.Rather than doing it “the way we’ve always done it,” are you thinking about how you present your annual report? Are you open to an honest assessment of your communications? And by the way, TMC raised $9 million in gifts in this past year, a good increase fueled by a $3.5 million gift and a $1.9 million challenge gift.Good job, and thanks Rozenne.
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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