We are searching for a consulting firm to advise us for two days a month on a $1 million campaign for renovations to our agency's headquarters. We have already interviewed 12 consulting firms and asked eight of them to submit proposals. We plan to have our development committee meet the top eight in a week-long series of interviews. Do you approve of the process?
Overly Thorough, Vice President of Development
I think that your process is a bit excessive. You are planning a relatively small campaign and considering a minimal use of consulting time. If you add up the value of the time you, your staff and your trustees have spent on this project it will probably be at least twice as much as you will end up paying your consultant. In the future, I suggest you identify four different types of firm's , have one interview with each one and then bring the top two firms to your development committee. Make your decision quickly and call it a day.
Several of our board members say they won't contribute to our annual fund because they spend money to travel to our meetings and buy tickets to the annual benefit. How can we succeed in building our annual fund unless each board member helps?
Frustrated Fund Raiser
Get your chairman and members of your executive committee to put pressure on all board members to contribute direct, unrestricted, annual contributions to your school or organization. They should point out that foundations, corporations, and other outside donors are becoming increasingly interested in the board's annual goal.
Two tickets to a benefit cannot replace a good annual gift. Every board member should contribute something to the annual fund simply to show a high degree of board participation. In return, you should give your board members credit and recognition for their total contribution, including benefit tickets, in any given year. I also believe that if a board member has enough resources, travel expenses become the price of being involved in a challenging and often prestigious board membership.
We are about to publicly announce our fund-raising campaign, its goal and the pledges received to date for the nucleus fund. Does it matter that our two six-figure lead givers, whose gifts constitute a good percentage of our nucleus fund, have not yet signed their pledge cards?
Anxious Director of Development
Yes, it does matter. You should convince your two lead givers to formalize their commitment by suggesting that you cannot go public with an amount that includes their gifts unless they have signed their pledge cards. Otherwise you may be whistling Dixie, and your goal may be too high.
I'm on the board of a small hospital and we're debating whether we should name a building after a donor who won't pay the full asking price for this naming opportunity. We're into the second year of a five-year fund drive and need both the cash and the publicity this donor could generate. Should we settle for less than the original naming price for the building?
Baffled Board Member
If you are sure there are no other prospects for naming, you may settle for less than the original naming price, especially if there is a long-term relationship with the donor and many more dollars down the road. Be prepared to defend this decision, never go too low and remember, the cost of naming your building must relate to the price of other naming opportunities such as the lobby.
Help. My development directors keep quitting. I hire them and two years later they're gone. Is it something I said?
Development directors leave for several reasons. Lack of board or executive director support, better paying jobs or promotions to vp of development. Or simply because they are burned out meeting goals and deadlines. Find out what the situation is by engaging your director in an honest post-mortem. You'll be better prepared for your next director of development!
The headmaster of my school refuses to support the budget of a development office starting to enter into a capital campaign. How should I handle this problem?
Lean and Mean Director of Development
Dear Lean and Mean:
Here's what you have to do: get your volunteer head of development and/or your chairman of the board to convince the headmaster he needs to spend money to make money. If that doesn't work, you could try to get a group of trustees to underwrite the expansion of the development office before the campaign or get a foundation to provide seed money for development expenses. Of course, there is one last option before you go on strike, bring in outside consultants to discuss what the appropriate campaign budget should be.
I'm sick of fund raising. What should I do?
Tearful and Tired Trustee
Dear Tearful and Tired:
Stop asking others and triple your own gift.
The wrong chairman was selected for our capital campaign. He loves the job but is a terrible solicitor and doesn't follow through on any of his assignments. What should I do?
Desperate Development Director
There are a couple of approaches you could try short of ousting the chairman. Try teaming your chairman with a proven solicitor to get him started or accompany him yourself. You could also suggest rotating leadership during the period of the capital campaign, or creating a co-chairmanship. If your chairman really doesn't like soliciting, he might even be relieved if you appoint a strong major gifts chair to take over solicitations.
Two of our major donors are fighting over the same naming opportunity. What should I do?
Divided Development Director
First, explain the situation to both donors and see if either one is willing to compromise by sharing the naming opportunity or accepting an alternative one. If neither is willing to budge, explain that your only choice is to give the opportunity to whomever makes the greater pledge.
The executive director of our organization is very close to most of our major donors, but he believes it is insulting and offensive to ask for a specific amount. You've mentioned in your newsletters and speeches that requesting a specific amount often helps a fund-raising effort. Which path do I take?
Down and Out Development Director
Dear Down and Out:
Work with your executive director to accept that, aside from a few top leadership gifts, most donors do not know what is expected of them. The less involved the donor is with the organization, the less likely he or she will know the amount of money to give. Asking for a specific amount actually helps the donor and, if done diplomatically, will not offend anyone.