Fundraising Professionals Archives

I am compelled to write this timely note to our clients because I know many around us are engaged in the election, and there is going to be a reaction about change. I want you to know you are in good hands. Your mission was important before and it is important now. Through the years, Hartsook has defied the naysayers time and time again. This week, we are releasing our new book, $231 Billion Raised and Counting which highlights our record-breaking successes over the past 30 years in business.

In 1975, Doc Smith told me that I had learned a valuable lesson: “There is no security, there is only opportunity.”

With full confidence, I have encouraged our team to counsel our clients that now is the time to seize opportunity. Thousands of nonprofits will retreat until calm occurs. Years ago, Hartsook embraced Sam Walton’s view of success: “When everyone else is moving in one direction, opportunity frequently lies in the opposite direction.” In 1989, I led Wichita State to one of only thirty successful $100 million campaigns in America – five years before Kansas’ flagship University, the University of Kansas passed that level. And that success was in the midst of the 1987 recession! As he was leaving the announcement of the Wichita State University campaign, the Chair of Campaign Kansas said to me, “WSU can’t do this, KU can’t do this.” I was right, and he was right: KU couldn’t do it.

Hartsook has exceeded client goals during the 90’s dot com bust… after the September 11, 2001 assault… following the 2008 historic financial crash… and for the last several years of US low financial performance. Through it all, Hartsook clients have set records. Year after year, Hartsook fights the headwinds of the nonprofit and fundraising commentators who forecast doom and gloom… and wins.

Now is the opportunity to exceed goals!

Other nonprofits will, like sheep, follow people like Professor Rooney who recently embarrassed himself. In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, he predicted philanthropic decline as a result of the election. In the days following the election the market set record-breaking levels. Professor Rooney should limit his comments to predicting the past as he does in the Giving USA Report. He should leave the future to those who have a vision, fortitude, and a good plan to succeed.

While others “wait and see,” Hartsook clients are raising money.

As a Hartsook client, you are a part of the Growing Philanthropy Movement. Keep moving, and charge ahead. To encourage you further, I want to make sure you get a complimentary copy of our newest book celebrating Hartsook’s 30th Anniversary, $231 Billion Raised and Counting. Click here and we will send you a copy.

And remember another Hartsook truth, “Somebody is making money all the time!”


Are You Ready for John Shamberg’s Call?

As a fundraiser, part of the deal is showing up.  My clients know that on New Year’s Eve, I call each of them.  If I get them, I offer them my best holiday wishes and cheer.  If I don’t reach them, they get THE LECTURE.

Believe me, you don’t want THE LECTURE.

Here is the nice version.

As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to work on December 31.  So I was there.

A law graduate of the University, John Shamberg, had told me all year long that he was going to gift some land to his synagogue, his private K-12 School and Washburn Law School.  I didn’t think much about it other than I remembered his promise.

On December 31, John called me.  He told me a story that has made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world.  Typical of lawyers, he had put off his gift of land until the very last minute.  His 40 acres was on the outskirts of Kansas City – 119th and Blackbaud Road – and it was worth $450,000.  His intention was for each institution to get $150,000.

Guess what?  When he called the synagogue, no one answered.  When he called the K-12 School, again no one answered.  When he called Washburn, Bob answered.  John, who has since passed away, said, “Bob, you just won the jackpot!”

Washburn got the land.  Not that we didn’t have to work for it.  I had to go to John’s office; there was paperwork that had to be filed.  It was New Year’s Eve and the Register of Deeds had closed, so we couldn’t file the transfer.  Those of you close to the law will understand – we had to go to the property and claim it.  Our Dean, Carl Monk, came to Kansas City from Topeka and he, John and I went to this then remote location.

John and Carl went to the center of the property, where John said, in his loudest voice, “I declare that this property has been given by me, John Shamberg, to Washburn University Law School and its Dean, Carl Monk.”

Carl then moved to the center of the space and announced to no one, “I, Carl Monk, Dean of the Washburn Law School accept and receive this land on behalf of the School.”

We then all had a glass of wine and celebrated.

Well, Washburn kept that land for many years and sold it for nearly $4 million a couple of years ago. Not a bad gift, John.

When I was a fundraising staff person, that story kept me by the phone at the end of the year for my entire career.  Bob, who owned a manhole company, called and gave $47,000 in closely held stock.  Frank and Patsy made a million dollar payment on their pledge.  Sylvia finally decided it was time to endow that opera scholarship and wrote a check for $100,000.

Every year, something happened and it still does.

Well, you don’t know when, you don’t know how, you don’t know why.  But if you are my client, I will be calling to see if you nonprofits are open and ready to accept an end of the year gift.

Trust me, it might be worthwhile to be in.  There’s a good chance your John Shamberg will call.

If I Could Only Be Jim Tangeman


My life has been like most, built of one influence at a time.  Jim Tangeman is one of those HUGE influences that began 41 years ago when he hired me as Dean of Students at Colby Community College at 21 years of age.  He had just been appointed President of the six-year-old College at 39.

He joins a few others who had confidence in me at a young age.  I was probably the youngest senior student affairs officer in the country when he ultimately appointed me Vice President of the College.  Colby was a community college with about 1,000 students. It sits on 160 acres of ground near the interstate in south Colby with seven buildings. Three of them were my responsibility: two “Living Centers” commonly known as Residence Halls; and a Student Union that had the food service, bookstore, recreation/meeting facilities and a student health clinic. In addition, I was responsible for Financial Aid, Counseling, Discipline, Student Activities, Student Leadership, Student Health Center, Career Counseling and the like. Sorry to go off on this, but if you don’t know about student affairs, this gives you a sense of the opportunity he gave to a 21-year-old.  The budget was probably $1+ million—a lot of money in 1972—and a staff of ultimately 25.

You probably think Jim was a fool to entrust this kid with this responsibility, and you could be correct. What he knew was how to take rough stone and smooth it out. He had been a successful high school basketball coach, star Kansas State University basketball player, finished his doctorate at Wyoming, and had served as Dean of Instruction at Colby for several years before becoming President.  So you begin to see why he is so important to my development.

He was, as I have learned, a master of the leadership art of asking questions, and most of them were why or why not. I was never an athlete, so some aspects of teamwork were not in my DNA.  They probably still aren’t, but Jim made me an important part of a team. He invested in my professional development, and I was soon the darling of the Student Affairs profession in Kansas because I got involved and learned a lot.  He paid for me to go to national meetings and management seminars, and he counseled with me on subjects well beyond my expertise.

But most important, he stood behind me in times of trial.  The first rape in 16 years in Thomas County happened at the Women’s Living Center my first year. A drug bust at the Men’s Living Center just before graduation. A threat on my life by a student with a knife. Personnel management issues with counselor and community mental health professionals. Professionalism for the Student Union personnel and activities. The addition to the Student Union that doubled it in size and my refusal to use the building in any way for non-student union staff offices—it was the students’ building and they were paying for it.  I am not the easiest guy to manage.  But Jim did it and he did it in stride.  Or at least it looked that way.

OK, now you know the foundation of our relationship.  Jim and his wonderful wife, Sandy and their talented son, David stayed at Colby for many years and then took an opportunity to become President of Garden City Community College.  It was a bigger school and bigger town with more opportunity to serve.  I don’t know a lot about those years; we kept in touch, but as friends do.  I did attend his retirement celebration.  He recognized the 30 men and women who he had mentored in the crowd that had become college or university presidents. Then to my surprise, he said, “I have only one failure who I thought would be a college president: Bob Hartsook.”  Then he shared my business success and asked me to come up and join this distinguished crowd.  I get a tear just thinking about that day.

In his retirement, they moved to Wichita; David had passed away at a young age.  It was kind of home, I guess. But in retirement we began to communicate more.  These two have always loved to travel and love to drive, an attribute that we don’t share, but I live in interesting places so they came to my home in NC. We had a great time. I ultimately sank my fourth boat, but not before we had an adventure.  Every evening after school, Jim and my son, Austin would go down to the local school ground and shoot hoops.  Sandy and I would talk about her trips and their lives.

Well, in 2005, I sold the company to the employees and I was required to create a Board of Directors of three, including me. Merwyn Hayes, who has been my business mentor for nearly thirty years, joined the Board.  Then I thought about Jim and all that he had brought to me, and how now that he had some time what he could bring to my business.  That was it. Jim became the third board member and has been elected as Secretary of the Board by acclamation ever since, always a close vote.

We have been friends for a long time.  We are very close friends now, which it wonderful. Life is interesting.

So on Saturday, February 16 there is a surprise 80th birthday party for Jim in Wichita and I am going to be there.  I waited to tell you that until now because I didn’t want you to think this is a birthday tribute. It isn’t. It is a long overdue thanks to a great leader, a motivator, and now a close friend.

If I could be Jim Tangeman, this would be my birthday.

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Fundraising Excellence is Alive and Well

For many, June 30th is the end of their fiscal years.  I want to take a moment to single out and recognize some of our clients that I work with personally.  I can hear people saying, “Here we go, bragging again.”

Okay, sure.  But this isn’t about me.  Many of the clients I work with have been with me for a long time, and for a long time they have been very successful.  Through 9/11 recession they raised money and through this most recent crash in 2009, they raised money.

Is it hard?

You’re damn right it is hard.  But these groups and most of our clients know that if they don’t raise the money, the people they serve go without.  They take this responsibility very seriously.

Harvesters, the Community Food Network in Kansas City, has been a client for 11 years.  Each year they have exceeded the past year and this year raised $13.6 million in cash and acquired 42 million pounds of food valued at $69.3 million for a record annual total of $82.9 million.  Eleven years ago, they were doing a third of the food and about a million dollars in cash.  In the eleven years they have generated for their network $740 million in food and cash to deal with the hunger issue in their community.  Hartsook is proud to be a small part of that success. Joanna Sebelien is their Vice President for Resource Development.

The Heritage Foundation in DC is not on a June 30th fiscal year, but is ahead of budget on major gifts with a goal of over $80 million for the year. Since Hartsook has been counsel for Heritage, in six years they have raised over $700 million.  John Fogarty is the Vice President for Development and John Von Kannon is their Vice President and Senior Counsel.

Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Kansas City is approaching their $30 million capital campaign goal supporting the building of a new emergency department, intensive care and now women’s health facility.  This is the largest campaign in their history.  Lou Gehring is the Senior Executive Director of the Foundation

Truman Medical Center, a partner in the designation as a national Cancer Center, raised over $9.5 million in commitments this year toward a variety of causes.  This is the largest annual support they’ve had in several years.  TMC has been a personal client of mine off and on for almost 20 years in three campaigns raising now nearly $100 million. Jim Dawson is Executive Director of the Foundation.

Avila University is in the quiet phase of a $43 million campaign, having committed $19 million as they begin to bring others to the table.  Avila has been a client and partner for more than a decade.  The campus has added and is adding more campus housing, academic facilities, and athletic facilities.  It is a different place.  Lifetime giving during their relationship with Hartsook is over $50 million.  Long time friend Angie Heer is the Vice President for Advancement; this is her second time working with Hartsook  (Angie was Harvesters Director of Development) to record giving.

Tulsa Boys Home, another long time friend of Hartsook is in the first year of their $28 million campaign.  So far, they have raised $10 million, including a $2 million and a couple of million gifts.  This is an endowment and capital campaign led by President Gregg Conway.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS,) also in Tulsa is a new member of the my family of clients. The are just starting a $20 million capital and program campaign.  Already, in the initial stages of requests with her Board and four gifts, they have raised nearly $1.5 million, including a $1 million from a former Board Chair.  A new shelter, transitional housing and an office complex will change the face of DVIS in Tulsa.  Tracey Lyall is the Executive Director.

I also am counsel to the Humane Society of Greater KC and the Florida Hospital Tampa Foundation, both in the early stages of developing their fundraising plans.  But when they look to the seven long time personal clients of mine and know that these institutions have collectively raised over $1.6 billion dollars for their causes during their Hartsook relationship, I’m sure they find that compelling. They know they can achieve greatness, too.

As I said, this is not about me–but in a way, it is.  My clients achieved greatness because they worked with Hartsook, not just Bob Hartsook.  Each of our consultants gives his or her clients the Hartsook quality of counsel that helps them raise unprecedented fundraising success.  We all have a list like the one above that is full of client successes and those who have trusted us over the years.  But this blog is my ink, so I get bragging rights here.

Of course, I am proud of each of my clients’ achievements but I want to be careful not to take credit for all of this.  Each of them has been blessed with creative, skilled, dedicated staff and volunteer leadership.  While we have been their coach, confidant, mentor and friend, the successes are theirs.

Fundraising is a team sport, we are grateful that we are on each of these successful teams.

New team members are always welcome, by the way. It’s not without a lot of hard work, but who wouldn’t rather be on the winning team?

Read that headline again: Gene Tempel—long time Executive Director of the Center on Philanthropy, currently Indiana University Foundation President—has returned to his favorite assignment.  But this time he is there to organize what so many of us have dreamed of for so long: a School of Philanthropy.

Congratulations to Gene.

The Growing Philanthropy Award for Founding the Growing Philanthropy Movement was given to Gene at the initial Growing Philanthropy Summit co-hosted by Blackbaud and Hartsook more than a year ago in Washington, DC.  Gene was the moderator.  As he has done for his entire career, as moderator of that event, he brought people together and unified ideas toward a common goal.

Now, he has a chance to put an “!” on his already illustrious career.

Hartsook has had a long, great relationship with Gene and has been a steadfast admirer of his leadership.  Our mentor and Chair Emeritus, Art Frantzreb, was a founder of the Center and a pioneer in philanthropy. Hartsook is the major funder of the Fundraising Lectureship in his name at IU.  Art started the first published list of million dollar gifts.  After his firm was acquired by Hartsook, I agreed with him to give that List to the Center; it’s now an important asset of the new School.

A few years ago, when Gene was recruiting Adrian Sargeant to IU’s Center of Philanthropy he asked me to endow the first Chair in Fundraising, which is now history.  Of course, I did.

At one time Hartsook was the largest individual donor to the Center. Maybe—since Gene has returned—we will be again.

Gene has a lot to do, building a School on the foundation he created for the Center.  We are all eager to hear his plans and directions.  He’ll have good answers.  But what Gene does best is ask the right questions.  I’ve learned this over time, but this talent comes naturally him.

Well, as a colleague of mine said, “It’s about freakin’ time.”  I couldn’t have said it better.

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