Jump Start Growth, Inc. has created a contest to highlight the success of small organizations that are successful in soliciting big gifts.
Conventional wisdom holds that only big institutions get big gifts. That fund raisers who are good at major gifts fund raising are only available for astronomical salaries. That all-star boards –boards populated with CEO’s, trust fund heirs, and socialites – are the key. That celebrity endorsements or five-star galas are the way to break through that barrier.
It’s all, to put it politely, balderdash!
It takes commitment. It takes discipline, gumption, patience, and creativity. But over and over I have seen organizations with budgets less than $2.5 million successfully solicit large gifts. And many more organizations are hungry to learn how to do it.
The technique is not complicated. In fact, it is within anyone’s reach. Make a list of top donors and prospects – 20-100 names. Figure out who in your circle has the best relationship with each of them. Practice telling the story of the organization’s accomplishments and future plans. Find ways to make the organization’s work tangible, concrete, and compelling. Listen to donors, then listen some more. Ask for gifts, and thank donors with detail about impact their gifts have had. At every juncture, remember that the donor is a human being, and treat him or her with utmost respect and courtesy.
But having the technique explained is not nearly as compelling as knowing about how other people have done it. So Jump Start Growth, Inc. has established a contest to highlight the organizations that do the best job inviting major gifts.
To participate, organizations must have an annual budget of $2.5M or less. Five judges –all of them small-shop major gifts pros -- will evaluate four factors:
- the size of the top 10 gifts in the past 3 years,
- the growth of the top 10 gifts over the past 3 years,
- board involvement in fund raising,
- and the creativity of donor engagement and cultivation.
The deadline is May 15th.
Prizes for the top 5 contestants are:
- A customized board presentation on major gifts fund raising (face to face if the organization pays travel expenses from Washington DC; Skype otherwise).
- Visibility in national fund raising publications – several writers and publishers have expressed interest in learning the techniques of organizations that excel.
- The top contestant will receive a $2,500 contribution.
Paul Jolly (www.jumpstartgrowth.com) worked as a fund raising professional for over 20 years before starting the consulting firm Jump Start Growth. He began his career serving various Quaker institutions, then moved to The Wilderness Society, and then the American Civil Liberties Union. In every instance, he has zeroed in on gifts from individuals at the top of the giving pyramid. The focus of Paul’s consulting work is bringing sophisticated major gifts fund raising practices to organizations that are outside of the philanthropic mainstream. His successes include leading three capital campaigns for organizations new to major gifts fund raising, securing millions of dollars in bequest and planned gift commitments, and bringing new life and laser-sharp focus to disheartened development departments.