My new resolve for 2013 is to celebrate the success of my/our clients. As you know, I have a lot of opinions about the challenges that face nonprofits, the fundraising profession and philanthropy. For me, there isn’t a better way to do this than to celebrate success. It’s inspiring and it gets my point across. So you may get weary hearing about some of our clients as I not only highlight their success, but point out why they are successful.The Foundation for Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Shawnee, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City) is one of the great community hospitals in the area and I suspect nationally. They are a part of the Adventist Health System of Orlando, one of America’s largest and most successful systems.Unofficially, they have completed their $30 million Capital, Program and Endowment Campaign. They have been a part of building a new, iconic tower for a new Emergency Department, ICU, and Surgery ($45 million total cost); a soon to be dedicated Women’s and Birthing Center ($38 million total cost); several program areas, and an endowment.So how did they do it?1. Continuity of staff. In the several years preparing for and implementing the campaign, only one staff of the five has left and was replaced. Having the wrong staff can kill a campaign, but they have the right staff and strong CEO, Lou Gehring, who was KC Fundraiser of the Year a few years ago.By the way the staff all have fundraising responsibilities. I just noticed a similar institution recently announced similar goals; they have 11 staff and eight of them are administration and only three fundraisers. Something is wrong there.2. Sponsoring Institutional Support. First, the Hospital funds the Foundation (about $600,000) so this foundation doesn’t have to raise it operational money. As a result, they focus on building relationships through several small gift programs and major and estate gifts. They have had two CEO’s who have supported this approach. They get an 88% return on their investment. This is huge.3. Major Gift Strategy. Strategic, measured and thoughtful approaches are a recurring theme. They have raised over $3 million in challenge gifts from the Mabee Foundation (Tulsa, OK) and the Kresge Foundation (Troy, MI). Those challenge gifts have been key to raising at least $20 million of their goals. They consistently get the highest levels of support because of the strategy.4. Donor Engagement and Recognition. Donor recognition isn’t just a platitude thrown about. It is a mission. Their recognition of donors is frequently unique, individually-inspired pieces of art commissioned for this purpose. They spend time celebrating the success of their hospital personnel with the Whole Heart Award, given by the foundation as the result of a patient recommendation. Over 200 have been given away in the past 12 months. Their dedications are special and unique, with the donor’s interest in mind. Few organizations understand and implement recognition and donor engagement better than SMMC.And finally—though I could go on and on about this organization’s campaign—I just felt this article needed to end . . .5. Donor-Centered Giving. Yes, they actually view giving from the donor’s perspective!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Wait, Bob. You call this special? You think this is unique? Don’t you know all fundraising professionals do view giving from a donor’s perspective?With all due respect, we don’t. If I asked this question, “If a donor gives a pledge of $100,000 over a five year period, how much do they give a year?” ninety-nine percent of all fundraising professionals would answer, “$20,000.”That answer is wrong. The donor can give whatever they want or need to in a pledge. It is their money. This is more than a technique, it is a philosophy of philanthropy. Later I will write about one of many donors who gave a million dollars because SMMC had this attitude while many other institutions this person had served over the years didn’t.This year, let’s resolve to take a good look at what’s been going well, while we question and examine the status quo. Celebrate with me SMMC and their efforts to grow philanthropy.
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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