Fundraiser of the Year

I have been so eager to write this blog, I couldn’t contain myself.  Some of you know early in 2013 I had been sick with pneumonia, but on the day I had a 103 temperature I got an email from Jim Dawson, the CEO of Truman Medical Center Foundation (Kansas City).  He was informing me that they had received a $2.3 million gift and had gone over their Mabee Foundation (Tulsa, OK) challenge, which meant an additional  nearly $2 million.  You know a $4 million+ day is a good day for anyone.  But for Truman Medical Center Foundation, this had been a few years in coming.  I got up from my sick bed to call Jim Dawson to tell him that he was my nominee for Fundraiser of the Year.

As a result of all the excitement, I had a relapse and died, but at least Jim knew I cared.

On the off chance I survived, I have written this.

That is problem with this blog: I could mix too many things.

But I am going to focus on Jim now.

If you live in Kansas City, you know Jim Dawson.  He was a founder of the Spirit Festival; was Chair of Starlight Theatre Board of Directors when Hartsook was counsel for their major campaign; he was a long time executive for Hallmark; senior executive of several other businesses; and recruited to TMC as their senior strategic manager (I am sure I didn’t get that title correct).

But then after a challenging 18 months with the new TMC Foundation leadership following one of KC’s most beloved fundraisers, Terry Snapp, the TMC Board and President and CEO John Bluford asked Jim to take over the CEO role part-time, for a short time. Well, Jim already had a job, but what you learn about Jim is that he is a loyal, company man.  So he took on the task, and for a couple of years he kept the ship running well.  Over time he was the first to recognize that while he knew how to run an organization, fundraising management was a bit different.  (By the way, Jim was responsible for one of the largest gifts to KC medicine by the Health Care Foundation of Greater KC of $7.5 million before he took on the Foundation responsibilities.  He had credibility and integrity, qualities that usually help encourage funders to support institutions).

Well, Jim was not shaped out of a traditional fundraising leadership model.

So naturally there were questions.  Like, “Who is Jim Dawson and why is he CEO of one of KC’s most important healthcare fundraising groups?”

I was eager to learn more about the plans this new CEO had. I also had worked with all the previous Foundation’s CEOs except the last and counseled them on two capital campaigns, a $20 million plus campaign and a $55 million campaign over a 10 year period.  Frankly, at some point I may have known more about the Foundation’s giving than they did.

The bottom line is, Jim ultimately always wants to be successful.  He is a Michigan State grad.  He and I have become friends so I can tell you about his revolutionary masters degree study.  I can tell you about his military record, and I can tell you about Crown Center Development, John Knox Village and a lot of good stories.  The common factor in all of them is success.

So now Jim had been charged with making this Foundation successful.  He called me and put his toe in the water.

Jim, I appreciate the opportunity.  He learned that I wasn’t a loyalist to Mark, Terry or to anyone else. I was a fundraiser who was proud to have counseled the creation of  resources for this safety net organization to thrive over a long period.  It wasn’t personal; and yet, it was. My association with Truman Medical Center, as with almost all of my clients, has taught me about their industry.  John Bluford is the shining star in my view.  But shiny stars need Jim Dawsons.  And Jim Dawson may not need—but the smart ones seek—the Bob Hartsooks.

This blog has really gotten long, but I want to tell you that in a soon to be released blog, I am going to tell you more about Truman Medical Center Foundation’s campaign success. They still have a several hundred thousands of dollars to raise to meet the overall goal.  As a result of Jim Dawson’s leadership, TMC will fund a partnership with KU’s oncology program with national perspective, needed TMC medical equipment, a children’s dental initiative and other needs.  They met the Mabee Grant, raised three $2 million plus gifts, and reestablished TMC Foundation as one of the top KC medical fundraising giants.

By the way, Congrats to Jim Dawson.  I know it is early for 2013, but you are my nominee for Fundraiser of the Year.

[This is second in my series about one of our client’s success stories].

Leadership for America is the Heritage Foundation’s ten-year campaign theme.   Heritage is the most prominent conservative think tank in the country, and is based in Washington, DC, just blocks from the nation’s Capitol.  Heritage was selected by the authors of Forces For Good, a 2007 best selling book on the six common practices of the top 12 high impact nonprofits.  In addition to the Heritage Foundation, among those chosen were Feeding America (also a former client of Hartsook); the Environmental Defense Fund; Exploratorium (San Francisco’s Science Museum); National Council of La Raza; Teach for America; and others.

So in 2007, when Heritage was named a top institution, why would they hire a company like Hartsook?  The answer to that is that they are constantly seeking to improve and frankly, wanted to enhance their major gift fundraising. Over the past 6 years, Heritage has raised over $544 million and last year completed the year with a record, $115 million including cash, pledges and estate commitments.  This is up from $47 million in 2006.

You are going to see some themes repeating themselves as we discuss these successes.  If you have not read Forces For Good, read it.  It is probably the most important nonprofit management book written to date. By the way, the authors, Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, have just updated the book and reported on the success of each of the nonprofits. Heritage was one of just a few that had continued to grow and in fact had more than doubled in size.

Here are six of the reasons Heritage is successful.

1.    The mission is well understood, appreciated, valued and respected by all who work there.  In fact, the mission is repeated in the elevators for all to see.  Each day, a listing of activities that are taking place in the building is posted.  Activities might include a briefing for a foreign ambassador, collaboration with other similar organizations, entertaining congressmen, senators and yes, once in a while a president or vice president.

2.    There is very little development staff turnover. Two people have held the Vice President for Development position since I have been with Heritage and the current one was promoted from within. They are unique in having a former Vice President for Development who has been promoted to Vice President and Senior Counsel, preserving an institutional history and long-term relationship so often missing from organizations. By the way, in the research side of the organization of over 275 staff, half are policy-related.

3.    This is going to surprise you, but the third reason for their success has been an incredible balancing of my passion for professionalism. Their major gift staff of 15 or so (overall staff of 50) did not come from a professional fundraising background.  But this is what Heritage does so well: they spend money on training and education. Part of my relationship is to mentor many of the regional fundraising staff and leadership. They are also exposed to the Bill Sturtevants, Robert Sharps and others, but they do it from a Heritage perspective and a Heritage fundraising context. So part of their strength is that they build their own. While they lack some of the philanthropy foundation, they also don’t have to deal with the overly technique-driven fundraising professional education.  This makes them markedly more innovative, creative and strategic.

4.    They have developed a “three legged stool” of direct response (which isn’t my strength, so I do little consulting on this), major gifts, and estate gifts. Interestingly enough, much of their growth in gifts has occurred by thinking bigger, giving donors pledge opportunities, and aggressively going after designations in their members’ estates (their donor’s average age is 70+ years).

Last year $74 million was raised in cash (about 55% direct response and 45% major gifts); $30 million in estate gifts and designations ($6 million in realized estate gifts and $24 million in designations and quantifications); and $11 million in pledges totaling $115 million. They have a goal of having up to 30% of each next year’s major gift cash goal already pledged and growing their realized estate giving and designations to 40% of their fundraising. In addition, their fundraising team raised $6 million in cash gifts for Heritage Action for America (Heritage Foundation’s affiliated sister organization which lobbies for the conservative policy ideas Heritage comes up with).

5.    No client is more engaged in helping their consultant understand what they are doing from a policy and marketing perspective.  Of course, I have not been retained to give opinions or direction, but understanding the process, direction and plans is extremely helpful in being “smart” about fundraising opportunities.

6.    The fundraising staff is engaged in researching the donor’s capacity, interest, and likelihood, and they think from the donor’s perspective.  Five years ago, their major gift team was tasked with $10,000, $20,000 and maybe a $50,000 gift.  Today, they regularly bring in $100,000, $500,000 and even million and multi-million dollar gifts.

So the themes continue. As Heritage demonstrates, fundraising success is a combination of leadership’s commitment, education and training of staff, valuing the individual, and high aspirations.

Let’s Focus on Success

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.

Jimmie Alford Dies Suddenly

Our profession has lost one of the leaders of our generation,” said Robert Hartsook, chairman of Hartsook Companies in Kansas City, Mo. He called Alford “a great spirit of professional fundraising who set his mark not only through his personal example, but his philanthropy. In business, he was a great competitor and a good person,” said Hartsook.

To read more click here.

One of the first acts by Gene Tempel, Founding Dean of the new School of Philanthropy at Indiana University was the appointment of Brittany Miller, a doctoral graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies as the first Hartsook Fellow.

Brittany is from Livonia, MI and has served as Dean Tempel’s graduate assistant in the IU Foundation President’s office before this appointment.  She will be responsible for assisting the Dean in his work to integrate the School into the University.

Hartsook CEO Matt Beem and I were aggressive in providing funding for Gene Tempel to appoint support for his work in the creation of the School.  Hartsook’s gift to the School was the first since its authorization by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education several weeks ago.

Hartsook is proud of our longtime support of the dream of a School of Philanthropy.  Our gifts go back to the establishment of the Arthur Franzreb Fundraising Lectureship in which Hartsook was the primary funder, a gift of the Franztreb Million Dollar Gift list after the Franztreb Company was bought by Hartsook and Art became Chair Emeritus of Hartsook, the well known gift to create the Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising and now the Hartsook Companies, Inc. gift to create the Hartsook Fellow.  These four major gifts reinforce our company’s commitment to growing philanthropy and support of the work of America’s—if not the world’s—center of philanthropic thought.

In addition, of course we continue to support our Hartsook Institutes for Fundraising based at Avila University which, hosts one of only three Masters Degrees in Fundraising in the country.  Dean Tempel has one of four recognized Scholar designations, most recently, Robin Rowland—along with Gene.  Others honored are Adrian Sargeant, Art Franztreb and Gerald Panas.  The Hartsook Institute Masters program has begun graduating its first students in fall of 2012.

In our hometown, Kansas City, Hartsook is the longtime lead sponsor of the AFP National Philanthropy Day event which this year honored Henry Bloch as KC’s Philanthropist of the year.

Hartsook is proud to be one of the world’s most professionally-oriented fundraising companies. Growing Philanthropy is our mission.

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