Campaign giving: Period of adjustment

Todd Cohen and Ret Boney

Before it launched a capital campaign in 2005 to fund construction of its first free-standing residential facility, Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region in Charlotte, N.C., had not engaged in aggressive fundraising, says Cindy Clark, vice president for development.

But the campaign, which initially had a goal of $8 million, prompted Hospice to “go out and share our case for gifts and build relationships,” Clark says.

Key to the case was the role of Hospice, which cares for 40 percent of people who die in Mecklenburg County.

“We reach a lot of people, touch a lot of lives,” Clark says.

Personal visits generated most of nearly $11 million the campaign raised.

“Any nonprofit has to be meeting a need in the community,” Clark says. “And when you’re meeting that need, people who value what you provide will step up and will want to support it because it’s important to them. You put your money where your heart is.”

Combination pitch

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, combines capital-campaign requests to donors with requests to make gifts to the annual fund.

In a five-year campaign that ended in 1998 and raised $136 million, exceeding its goal by $11 million, the school created its blueprint for asking donors both for a capital gift and for increased annual support over three to five years.

During the most recent campaign, for example, an effort that raised $293.57 million, the school might ask a donor for a $250,000 gift, including $200,000 for a capital initiative and a total of $50,000 for the alumni fund over three to five years.

“While we’re trying to meet capital objectives, we’re also trying to build alumni-fund growth at the same time,” says Randy Shaw, the school’s vice president for development and alumni relations.

Bucking the tide

Although fundraising has taken a hit during the recession, the Chicago Community Trust is undertaking a large capital campaign.

In the first “proactive, organized fundraising effort” in its 95-year history, the community foundation in 2009 launched a campaign to raise $500 million in endowment funds by its centennial in 2015, says Jamie Phillippe, vice president of development and donor services.

“We are like most community foundations in that we’ve been a fund-receiving organization rather than a fundraising organization,” she says. “Our board decided it wanted to increase our asset base so the portion of the endowment we have control over is bigger so we can make more grants and have a bigger impact on the people of Chicago.”

The Trust did its homework, says Phillippe, by hiring a consultant to conduct a philanthropic market study, and then by organizing a campaign committee packed with civic leaders, some of whom are old friends and others who are new to the Trust.

During the first year, the campaign brought in $147 million, $65 million of which came through philanthropist Marshall Field V and his family.

Field is leaving $60 million of his estate to the Trust, and he and the family have converted their $5 million family foundation into a donor-advised endowed fund at the Trust.

That early coup is part of the Trust’s strategy to target prominent individuals and their foundations, says Phillippe.

“In this endowment campaign, a very specific tactic is trying to convince smaller family foundations to convert their foundations to donor-advised funds,” she says.

Because it generally costs less to operate a donor-advised fund than a family foundation, the economic downturn is causing some wealthy families to look for cost savings.

“It’s been very interesting,” says Phillippe. “People hadn’t thought about doing this. When they hear the idea, you see the light bulb going off over their heads.”

Fundraising milestone

In another organizational milestone, the American Diabetes Association is in the planning phases of its first significant capital campaign, says Vaneeda Bennett, the association’s executive vice president for development.

The effort will be focused on finding, attracting and funding the next generation of diabetes researchers, given that the number of scientists going into the field is diminishing.

“Some of the most brilliant discoveries came from young, energetic scientists,” says Bennett. “If we can fund these brilliant individuals, the cure will come and life will be better for all people with diabetes.”

Testing for the campaign, which is still in the silent phase, is going well, she says, and the association is in the process of recruiting volunteer leadership.

Much of the planning for the campaign occurred around the time of the recession, says Bennett, but the effort is still proceeding.

She credits the organization’s leadership with keeping the effort on top of the priority list.

“We just have some passionate volunteers on the research foundation board,” says Bennett.

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