Hoping to help you with these success stories and advice!

by Marcy Heim on May 13, 2020

You know it was a ‘Proud Mom Moment’ with son, David…in his cap and gown…graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston – a day I had looked forward to for a long time.

Well, he WAS in his cap and gown, but he was actually on our couch in Madison, Wisconsin.  Two laptops were open, one with the graduation live stream and the other with the family (including grandbaby, Chloe) in Zoom ‘gallery view’. As they read off David’s name we experienced his 3 seconds on the screen; his photo, town, and biggest musical influence. His answer, “My Mom and Dad.”

You know I cried. And it was a moment we will treasure forever. It was certainly not what I had looked forward to as David’s graduation, but it was good.

We have never experienced a time like this. But know YOU CAN be successful. YOU CAN create moments to be treasured, deepen relationships and inspire incredible generosity – right now amid COVID 19.

YOU CAN DO THIS – Success Stories and Advice.

I ask a few of my current clients to share a success and their advice for raising money now. Here’s just a few of the many nuggets I heard. It’s really a deep joy for me to be a part of inspiring generosity with them.

1. Embrace that YOU CAN learn from others. Yes, you all have unique circumstances, but don’t fall into that, “this would never work for me” trap. Celebrate the success of others and adapt them for your own success.

2. “You have to be brave. Relationships are worth fighting for.” Nancy Gerard, the Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Georgia Cumberland Academy is in the final million of $15M building campaign. The students are gone from this Adventist boarding school and many donors have outstanding campaign pledges. “I have intentionally left people off the list that are part of the campaign. I ran a list of past givers and strategically decided who I am going to talk to – past parents, board, donors – with the purpose of trying to re-engage people. Some of these calls have been bumpy but not one has been offended by being talked to. I ask for $5000. Some had not given since 2011 and it’s been wonderful reconnecting them to the Academy.”

3.  “This is exactly why we need this new building.” Shelley Wicks and Cliff McFerren of Simpson Memorial Home, a senior living facility, have experienced the virus. While residents want single rooms for more privacy, the virus is a powerful testimony to the safety the private rooms will afford the residents in the new building they are raising money for now.

4. “$100,000 came in over the weekend.” Development director, Jeff Usem, shared they received a tremendous outpouring of support over the weekend following Herzl Camp’s announcement that camp this summer was canceled – emotionally devastating for kids, staff and families. “It felt like going over the waterfall but then floating in the still water below.” This lesson is, “People can and want to help and NEED TO BE ASK.” Jeff had already been in touch with key camp supporters. During these conversations you must pivot and ask them to help with a specific gift.

5. “I can’t think of a time when Fundraising is more important in our world.” Betsy Warburton, CEO of Bethany Life, is reorganizing her whole team to determine the most critical funding priorities and strategize together to engage the folks they know best to make asks.  The needs list includes technology to help right now and also improvements to create better experiences Post-COVID. Remember – your donors want you to have a vision for getting to the other side.

6. “My newest Board member suggested a huge number of contacts to talk to.” Janet Keller, Executive Director of the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, has been working hard with her boardFor the most part, her current donors are some of the hardest hit financially by COVID-19. Thanks to her board, she now has a huge number of totally new prospective donors to talk to and engage because they were able to re-imagine the message of why they are important. It’s time for creativity in your message.

7. “A fundraising letter, only our second ever, is going out this week.”  Just moving into a Bloomerang database, only one year-end letter sent, brand new to this all, Diana Rich, UP Home Marketing and Development Director is reaching out during this, Nurses Month, to ask for gifts now from their fledgling list. We created a great message and she’s getting it out – all in about 5 days. It’s not personalized, it will be printed but it’s going out! All the while Diana is shopping for residents, home-schooling her kids and supporting her farming husband. TAKE IMPERFECT ACTION!

8. “We really do have a chance to be all we were made to be in the world!”  Sharon Bass, Executive Director, Volunteer Center of Lubbock, was delighted by a gift from a local foundation that gave her their final distribution. Why the Volunteer Center?  A legacy of service to the community…and a tribute to Sharon and her leadership there over the years. YOU are a big part of why people give.

God has made

“You can organize your life in such a way that you can actually do this (successful major gift work) now. You don’t have all these other rabbit holes to go down” says Nancy. To date Nancy has secured $100,000 from four donors (turns out one email ask, one phone ask, one face-time ask and one text ask) as a challenge to raise $100,000 from everyone else by year-end. Looks like the second $100,000 will be raised in the next few weeks! That’s $200,000 NEW MONEY for worthy student scholarships at GCA.

Janet said, “I can choose what I get done in a day and if I am feeling overwhelmed I can take a break outside.”  Diana shares that it almost feels a bit bi-polar some days, “I can feel sorry and bad but then I choose my own attitude and see how I can affect all the people around me by how I show up.” 

super hero

AB Orlik, Director of Development, Lussier Community Education Center, and working remotely after finishing up her own battle with cancer, added, “Thank you for training me to INCLUDE our donors as everyday heroes, walking with us, building together.” Her Spring appeal letter addressed all the “what if’s” of their summer program and has already secured more and larger gifts. She’s planning “thank you note” writing parties over zoom with her board and volunteers to continue, sort of, what they have done in the past.

My personal favorite, Jeff challenges you to “Find your own phone booth!” 

Indeed, you are the super heroes – connecting and inspiring generosity – even now. I appreciate you. Fly on!

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