When it comes to philanthropy, here is an important question: “Do different generations think differently when it comes to giving?” ”Does the same thing that motivates a boomer, motivate a millennial?” “How do we adjust our approach?”
We like to say that fund raising is “equal parts art and science.” For the science part, we can apply formulas and strategies and be fairly sure about what the results will look like. But the art portion is where the “unexpected” comes in.
Paul instructed Timothy to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). Timothy was to constantly share the word—when it was convenient and when it wasn’t. Paul challenged him to “correct, rebuke, and encourage” those whom God had placed in his care.
If you've been around development work for any amount of time, or have worked with major donors at all, you've probably asked yourself this question - maybe more than once. We have a saying at The Timothy Group (sorry, I don’t know who originated it), “A successful donor visit is when the right person asks the right person for the right amount for the right project in the right place at the right time.”
Of the $335 Billion dollars given last year in America, around ten cents (10) of each dollar given by check or wire transfer was written by a Foundation. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on Monday 14 April, 2014. The Article titled “Family Foundations Adopt New Mantra: Let’s Spend It All” by Veronica Dagher. A narrative about Family Foundations in America. 24% of those family foundations intend to give all of their assets away during the lifetime of the existing directors.
Have you ever watched a “tag team” event, like a relay race, where teammates take turns engaging in whatever activity is required? Here is another example. As a kid, I remember watching wrestling matches on TV, where two wrestlers would compete against two others. When one member of the “tag team” needed a break, or another “tactic” (or wrestling move) needed to be applied, wrestler 1 would run to the corner of the ring, slap hands with wrestler 2 (his teammate) and the match would continue. Don’t ask me what determined the winner in these tag matches – I am too old to recall that - but it was fun to watch teamwork in action.
How do you know when the donor isn't ready? If you've been involved in development work for long, you've probably had a situation where you made the “ask” of a donor before they're weren't ready. How so? A couple of differing ways, probably – either they were offended, said “no”, or gave a significantly smaller amount than you hoped for. No worries, we have all been there a time or two.
Maybe a better question is - how can you know (for next time)? The relationship between a donor, the development staff person or volunteer assigned to the donor, and the institution in need of support is a tricky one. There are guidelines of when a donor is ultimately “ready” for solicitation, but no hard, fast rules. Every donor, every organization, and every campaign is different.
I have never once caused it to rain in my nearly 34 years in our Stewardship Practice here at TTG. I know who sends the rain and it is not me. However I do know what to do with the rain once God sends it. I have been in the irrigation business all these years. I also admit to an occasional attempt at “Cloud Seeding - yes, trying to help God out a bit! Nice segue to my BHAQ-(Big Harry Audacious Question)
“BHAQ QUESTION”-DOES GOD REALLY NEED US TO ACCOMPLISH HIS TASKS HERE ON EARTH?
Jesus gave Peter and John some unusual instructions to make preparation for what would be the Last Supper. “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” “They left and found things just as Jesus had told them” (Luke 22:10-13a).
Recently, I was privileged to conduct Pre-Campaign Study interviews on behalf of a client. Essentially, these interviews are one-on-one meetings with their key stakeholders. This capital campaign would be the single largest fundraising effort ever entered into by this organization - the total needs exceeding $5 million. When we conduct these interviews, we ask the stakeholders several questions to gather their perception of the need. These are confidential conversations. We end each interview by asking if they would consider supporting the campaign as described and to estimate what their three-year giving level might look like. These are not pledge commitments, but they do help us to evaluate what the total dollars might project to.