Capital Campaigns are NOT about Raising Money!

March 15th, 2016

I’ve come to understand that Capital Campaigns are about institutional transformation…..NOT about raising money. Improved donor stewardship is key.

True transformation will ensure intensive and far reaching, change to the core concepts and values of the entire organization. So change the way you think about thanking. Out think and out thank the competition. Make Donor Recognition efforts philanthropy branding and communication tools for the organization.

Just as a non profit organization spends time and money in prep for a campaign by evaluating just what has to be done to assure such meaningful change, early on, leaders must reflect on how their decisions to thank donors can be transformed.

Are day-to-day decisions to thank donors:

Proactive or reactionary?

Motivational or as an afterthought?

Programmatically planned or “in the moment” product decision-making?

Brand supportive or non-specific?

Any campaign (and, thus, an organization’s future) is best served if its thinking about thanking were transformed fully in preparation for imminent organizational change.

Written by Robin E. Williams  

The Path Is Yours to Choose

The Path Is Yours to Choose

 

A Recognition Policy “Moment”!

August 5th, 2015

Jot it down.  Whenever current events indicate an imminent “sea change” in the ways you thank and recognize donors, “jot it down”! The Cosbys “gift-return” is one of those moments.

Donor recognition policies, or the absence of them, are suddenly in the headlines.

This article about the giving back of Cosby monies says that the Cosby gift is not a large part of the Spelman endowment. Maybe not now.  But when it was given it was, indeed, significant! Even useful in garnering new donors.  It simply should be known that when that gift was given this couple were key donors to that Spelman campaign.

That Cosby gift changed the perception of Spelman as viable entity to which to give.  And now is not a time to minimize the impact of that gift or the transformational importance of the givers to the organization.

Nor must we celebrate them or that gift further.

It seems current events have led Spelman to remove the “Cosby” name from public namings/events associated with Spelman College.

Whatever you think of that action…..Think about yourself! Do you have a a written policy in place on how to handle such a situation ? Let someone else’s “truth” be a policy-making moment for your organization!!! Capture it. Codify it. Get it revised and/or approved and move on.DSCN3082 copy

A written “Policy” to me is a living document, kept alive through an efficient process meant to move idea-and-inquiry through a thorough evaluation.  Policies will never be comprehensive with all things considered. But managed with care, they can always provide reference and history for on-going decision-making.  If done well, a policy can exist as a logical, methodical reference of decisions made and that were meant to guide recognition and commemorative protocol with an equally methodical process in place to incite further change when needed.

Just continue to look to current events and trends to prepare for/insulate your organization against the future.

Sculpting Lessons for Donor Recognition

July 23rd, 2015

Sculpting donor images for application onto a donor recognition display can be daunting. At Robin E. Williams Incorporated, we have managed close to a hundred artists in the process over the years. It isn’t cheap to do, nor is it a breeze to manage donor and fundraisers’ expectation. But no matter how tough, if handled with care, the donor will feel well stewarded throughout the process.

Some go well. Some are a nightmare. Some donor faces and profiles are easier than others, but mostly it is the talent and empathy of the artist that matters most.

Here I want to talk about a specific challenge.

CSU Schwob Music Endowments

CSU Schwob Music Endowments

The display here is for Endowment Giving at Columbus State University, in Georgia. The gift being honored is for at least $1,000,000.

In this case, a dual bas relief is required. Turns out, the man’s image was easier to accomplish than his wife’s. She’s a beautiful woman with voluminous, wavy hair, wide and expressive eyes and a brilliant smile. We knew going in that translating her into bronze might be tough. I had no idea how difficult.

Pezold edit

 

We started with the most economical approach: using the casting manufacturer’s in-hour artists. $900. After nearly 4 months of back and forth, this is where we stood.

casting artist714

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For nearly $2000 more, the client approved use of another sculptor with whom we had had success before to “fix the wife”. From October 2014 to April 2015, we endured 7 rounds with this artist, including work on site with the donor at the table. Here are those renditions!

2nd artist rd2 2nd atrtis last rd 4 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd atrtis last rd 4 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things were NOT improving! As can happen, sculpting worsens as tries multiply. And then there is the empathy part. When the artist said to me: “I just don’t do ‘pretty’!” I knew this was a road to nowhere for the client in his quest to honor his donors.  I asked that I be allowed to find a new artist, and fast.

The client, whom I have known for many years, is always committed to having the donors well served. In some ways, his persistence in getting this right has meant an even happier outcome than if the sculpting effort had gone well the first time (and sometimes it does!). That commitment to the donors led to our search for a prominent artist in our southeast US region, which I found: Wesley Wofford. I met with him, showed him our past efforts with the endowment display and also the history of these donors and their disappointments to date.

He bravely took on the assignment and achieved success within one round of submittals! What a joy he was to work with and what joy he brought to the donors: she told our client, “I can honestly say I’m very pleased.”  So set your budgets wisely and choose your artists with care.Wofford 1 and done 715 copy

Written by Robin E. Williams

Donor Recognition: 7 Strategies

April 3rd, 2015

Donor Recognition is simply under-utilized as a tool for building a culture of philanthropy for a non-profit organization. Donor recognition is to be plaques, parties,  personal conversations and perpetual. thinking-cap

It simply begins with your own unique, strategic and focused thinking about thanking. It’s usefulness is bought to bear by your attention to and application of its potential as a proactive partner in all efforts toward enhanced and broadened giving for your organization. Continue reading »

“Just in Time” Donor Recognition

March 24th, 2015

Donor Recognition is the most powerful communication tool a fundraiser has. Yet, why is it that Donor Recognition plaques and displays seem to be ordered ONLY at the last minute? Continue reading »