Tag Archives: special events

How to Transform Fundraising Challenges to Success

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

Challenging finances and what feels like an onslaught of “bad press” can be part of the nonprofit experience. Addressing these is what leadership is all about. Keep an eye to the future, talk with your donors and stakeholders, and find a game-changing way to engage the community. This is the story of Regional One Health and its foundation.

Tammie Ritchey, Vice President of Development and Executive Director of Regional One Health Foundation in Memphis Tennessee knows what it’s like to be part of a team that weathers the storm and emerges with stronger leadership, new visions, strategy, partners and donors. She credits her board, new leadership and engaged donors with the turn around of what was once The MED and is now Regional One Health.

First, executive leaders took time to personally share strategic directions and vision with major donors, keeping them in the loop. The foundation board played a major role too, and continues to do so. Ritchey credits their leadership and initiative, sharing “They help develop strategies and tactics that raise the money needed to advance the system’s goals.  They are our advocates, providing guidance and vision.” And they recruit new board members.

Ritchey proudly promotes the foundation board, “I sincerely believe we have one of the strongest board of directors around.  They are all quite brilliant in their own lives outside of the board and very successful men and women.  They are dedicated to Regional One Health, they believe in the vision, and they all work passionately on our behalf.  They challenge me every day to go harder, to push further, to give more to the patients and families we serve.  “And we have several members who held on with us during some very challenging times. It was very difficult to be on a fundraising board and not be able to raise a lot of funds because of the public’s perception of the hospital at that time.”

Read Part One:
How to Have a Visible and Active Foundation

But that has changed. The foundation now hosts a sell-out gala that is nothing short of spectacular. How did it get started? By a board member! “The gala started when then board member, Leigh Shockey, asked her friend, legendary producer David Guest to bring a soul review that he was doing in London to Memphis and allow the money raised to go to the then MED.  He agreed and she recruited board member Susan Arney to assist her with this.  The first gala had 14 artists and was put together in eight weeks!,” Ritchey explains.

“We used the gala specifically as a way to challenge and change the business community’s and donor community’s public perception of us.  It’s very important that our gala guests have a one-of-a-kind, first class experience – just like what we strive for with our patients and their families when they use our services. The first year we held the gala people said they were happy to support us, but they were unsure about what the experience would be like – so in a way it was a bit of a test.”

Robert (Kool) Bell, Regional One Healthcare Foundation, Saad&Shaw

Pictured: Robert (Kool) Bell

The foundation clearly passed the test, as the event is an annual sell out with people who literally buy their tables a year ahead of time.  And the health system has passed the test as well, Ritchey adds. “Patients used to be reticent about using our services, but once they get on campus and have their first experience with us they are thrilled with their care and outcomes and trust us for their healthcare needs.”

To close out our interview we asked Ritchey what two things she wants readers to know. Here are her words:

“Regional Health One handles cases that some physicians can go a lifetime without ever seeing or experiencing…in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics… we are national industry leaders.  We are creating an institution that our community needs and deserves but that does not currently exist. With our partners (donors, advocates, physicians) we will transform health care in this region.”

“Much of what is considered national industry best practices in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology, and high risk obstetrics, were developed here at Regional One Health.  In the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics, we are national leaders and our physicians are sought after for their industry knowledge and expertise.”

Here’s to a bright future for Regional One Health. We salute your vision and leadership.

Answers to our readers’ frequently asked questions:
Q. Does your board have a giving requirement?
A. All board members are required to give financially each year.

Q. Does your board have term limits?
A. Yes.  Members are eligible to serve two consecutive three year terms.

Q. Are all event costs underwritten?
A. No – I wish! We are working on building that up.  This event is just four years old – but we have made money every year.

Q. What is the primary source of funding for the foundation?
A. It varies each year but last fiscal year it was foundations and individuals.

Q. What is the relationship between the CEO of Regional One Health and the foundation?
A. The CEO of the system serves as the President of the Foundation board.

Q. What awards has the medical center received recently?
A. We were just named to Becker’s Healthcare just announced that we are one of the 150 best places to work in the nation.

Here’s all their information:
Regional One Health
877 Jefferson Avenue | Memphis, TN 38103
Web: www.regionalonehealthfoundation.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RegOneHealthFDN

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.


Who is your ideal partner?

 fundraising, leadership, partnership, special events, fundraising campaign, how to lead a fundraising campaignHow do you become a successful nonprofit fundraiser? What is the secret to success? An engaging personality, relationships, tenacity, creativity, sales ability and consistent follow through are some of the attributes of success fundraisers. Here’s another: teamwork! Successful fundraisers don’t go it alone: they always have a partner. It is flattering and humbling to be asked to play a role in raising funds for an organization you believe in. You can increase your chances of success by picking the right partner to work with.

If you are asked to help organize a marathon, a concert, or a phone-a-thon you can double your impact by getting a partner. If you are asked to lead a capital campaign, an alumni campaign, or local disaster relief campaign get a partner and double your impact. When agreeing to help with fundraising make your answer, “Yes, and I’d like to have a partner work with me. So-and-so is a great asset and he has volunteered to work with me on this project.”

When you have a fundraising partner you have someone to bounce ideas off of, to make plans with, and to inspire you if you feel discouraged. If you know there are times when you will be you of town or otherwise committed, your partner can fill in for you and keep the process moving. When you have an effective and supportive partner fundraising can transform from an obligation into a fun challenge. You set a financial goal and work together to figure out how to reach it.

Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate who could be your ideal fundraising partner. Reflect on who you know personally, professionally, through worship, family connections, and/or community life. It would be ideal to partner with an individual who has a track record of successful fundraising. But that alone is not enough! Think about who also shares an interest in the work of your nonprofit and its values, and who has demonstrated commitment and follow through in other areas of their lives. Think about who you have helped in the past, and who might “owe you one.” Look for a person who gets things done, doesn’t accept failure, and always has a “plan b” and a “plan c” in their back pocket. Another ideal characteristics: people who have the power, influence and wealth to easily engage others in meeting your fundraising goal. Finally, the most important characteristic is that of accessibility. You want a partner you can reach by phone, text or email and who is not too busy to give his or her full attention to your joint project. They make your fundraising project their project.

If this sounds simplistic, that’s because it is. Find a partner, put your heads together, and have some fun raising money.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Triple your special events revenue

Special events can help one of the most exciting ways to raise money. They can also be the most challenging.

MelanieMesser2In October of 2011 Melanie Messer joined the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center as its first full-time development director. One year later she had tripled special event revenue, reduced expenses, and doubled sponsorship revenue.

Here’s her story:

As the new development director Melanie faced two challenges: creating a fundraising program that expanded beyond the organization’s well-attended major special event, “FinFest”; and doubling FinFest sponsorship revenue within one year.

Melanie began her work by establishing a donor cultivation program that included monthly “meet-and-greets” and bi-monthly home receptions. She talked with board members and community leaders to encourage them to host receptions and to visit the center for a “meet-and-greet.” She developed a structure that supported board members in becoming more involved with cultivating current and prospective donors.

Melanie also worked to change the culture of giving across the organization. She began with setting expectations for giving from board members. She moved on to increasing special event revenue. She laid out new sponsorship levels and encouraged the event committee to increase the giving level associated with each type of sponsorship. She encouraged the committee to approve an approach that asked potential sponsors to give financially, and to also ask the lead sponsor to give in-kind support such as printing and design services that would reduce event costs.

While we admire Melanie’s spirit and leadership, we know that no one person can change a culture. We asked her what organizational strengths were working in her favor. She replied, “Being supported by a leader – our executive director – who is willing to take risks, who allows new ideas, and encourages organizational change.” Other supports were highly invested individual and corporate stakeholders who put their passion and financial investment behind the center’s mission and vision. “Bill McQuilkin, the executive director, and I spent a lot of time strengthening existing relationships and building new ones.

“I had the support of my executive director and I had the support of colleagues across the organization. We were fortunate to identify and develop a core of “cheerleaders” or leaders of influence who were helpful in rallying their colleagues towards supporting our efforts,” she shared.

“This moral support was important because the revenue expectations for the event were high,” Melanie continued. “The goal was to increase sponsorship revenue from $50,000 to $100,000, which was a daunting challenge.”

While the challenge may have been daunting, the results were inspiring. “Not only did we reach our $100,000 sponsorship goal, we tripled our overall event net revenue from 2011 to 2012,” Melanie shared.

We asked her for words of guidance for her fellow development directors, or for those taking on a new fundraising job. “Do your homework before setting lofty fundraising goals but do not be afraid to take risks if you have the right backing and sound advice to pave the way,” she replied. “Also, remain transparent with leadership and your board and seek out potential individual and corporate partners in the community, who are able to be connected to your organization, whether through a board member introduction or funder.”

She closed her comments with words that delighted us, “Do not be afraid to apply or seek support to bring in advisors such as Saad & Shaw with a proven track record to bring your goals into reality.”

Back story: We met Melanie when she called us and asked us to work with her using our Counsel on Demand service. We admire Melanie’s talent and strategic thinking, and we have never met! We worked with her and Bill by phone and by email, listening to their ideas, reviewing their plans, and offering strategies for engaging donors, board members and sponsors. Let us do the same for you.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow on Twitter @saadshaw.

Stop name dropping

Here’s a public secret: special events are designed to attract new donors. Yes, the funds raised through the event are important to the nonprofit. But that is only one goal. The second goal – acquiring names and contact information of potential donors – is often overlooked.

Think about it this way: you are offered an opportunity to win a free car; all you have to do is share your name and contact information. Why would a car company give away a car in exchange for your contact information? Because there is a strategy in place for engaging everyone who enters the contest. The company is building a pool of prospective buyers for dealerships to follow up with.

The same is true for your organization and its special events. Or it could be – if you are tracking names and contact information. Having a follow up plan for what happens after an event is just as important as planning for the event itself. And you can’t follow up if you don’t have names.

Participating in a special event can mark the beginning of a relationship between a community member and your institution. The real success lies in converting a person who bought a $50 ticket to an event – or who sponsored a runner at $25 – into a donor who gives annually and who may – when the time is right – make a major gift, or encourage others to do so.

Special events provide a pool of new potential donors: finding out which ones are committed to your institution is the fund development work that lies ahead. It begins with reaching out, engaging them, and asking them to give on a regular basis.

Each event should be planned with a net revenue goal (gross revenue minus expenses), and with a goal of engaging participants in new and deeper ways that bring resources and money to your organization. Attention should be given to both the logistics of a luncheon or 5k run, and to the communications and solicitation activity that will follow. Short-term and long-term fundraising planning need to occur simultaneously. The link between the two is the names and contact information that are collected through the event.

Think about it – many nonprofits buy lists of names of people who may have an interest in their organization. They then invest more money in direct mail and e-marketing to connect with these individuals and encourage donations. With a special event, you have a free list of people who have a direct experience with your organization.. Ask board members and volunteers to review your new list of names – see who they know, and who they can engage.

Growing your fundraising requires a growing pool of prospective donors to work with. Don’t be a name dropper!

Celebrate a New National Park

Sometimes a dream appears so big you wonder if it can come true. Here is our position: Believe that you can, and then bring together people who share your vision and are willing to contribute their talents, connections, time and money to make it happen. That’s how we got our newest national park and a tribute to Black history.

About five years ago we were asked to help create awareness and support for the idea of making Port Chicago – the Concord, CA area site where the largest U.S. home front disaster during World War II took place – a part of the national park system.

Our founder, Mel Shaw, had just brought together a group of local African American leaders and influencers to encourage Black families to visit Yosemite National Park — so we were the right people to ask. But would others come out to support Port Chicago as well? The only way to find out was to ask.

When we asked – and invited – people came out. They wanted to learn more about the explosion at Port Chicago and the young Black men who made history by standing up to the military, risking court martial, and who in the process helped integrate the armed forces.

The Port Chicago explosion at the naval magazine killed 320 men, 202 of whom were African-American. The explosion, work stoppage, and subsequent mutiny trial provide insights into the injustice of racial discrimination, the African-American experience in the U.S. military, and home front life during the Second World War. These events ultimately led to the desegregation of the armed services in the United States.

The people who came out that day five years ago launched the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial a 501 c3 led by Rev. Diana McDaniel, a Unity minister from San Leandro. Fast forward to Fall 2009 and with the help of many friends, including Congressman George Miller (D-CA), our first African American president signed legislation that made Port Chicago a national park.

The legislation, signed as part of the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act elevates Port Chicago from an affiliated park site to a full unit of the National Park System. This allows the Park Service to create a national park visitor center and receive increased funding to hire park rangers to share the site’s story with the public.

This past Saturday the 66th commemoration of the explosion and dedication of our new national park was celebrated. Take a look at the event. For more information see www.nps.gov/poch. And as always, continue to have a FUNdraising Good Time!

Not Business As Usual – Stepping Outside the Norm


Two things made last month’s Rubicon Programs annual event unique. First, it honored individuals who had participated in their programs. Second, it wasn’t a fundraiser! The 2010 Rubicon Honors was designed as a way to introduce donors and funders to the people who are impacted by the organization’s work. To learn more about what is going on at Rubicon we talked with Jane Fischberg, President & Executive Director.

Saad & Shaw – Organizations typically honor individuals outside of their organization who either exemplify the organization’s values or can speak directly to the organization’s impact. But you did something different. You selected program participants and volunteers. What influenced this decision?

Jane Fischberg – In prior years we hosted Rubicon Honors as a more traditional event. But in 2008 we turned the tables by honoring a man who had participated in our programs. Those who attended really liked hearing from the people we serve. In 2009, with changes in the economy, we decided not to host a fundraising event. Instead our board members hosted a series of small house parties. This year we did something different again and asked our program managers to nominate individuals to be honored at our annual event.

Saad & Shaw – Sounds like you turned the tables again.

Jane –We wanted the people who worked with our program participants and volunteers to be the ones nominating the people we honor. Staff identified five program participants and four volunteers for us to honor. Our development team met with each nominee. We didn’t know if we would honor all who were nominated or a few. As it turns out we honored everyone who was nominated.  And people at the event really enjoyed learning about their diverse life stories.

Saad & Shaw – You did something different yet again by turning your annual fundraiser into a friend-raiser. How and why did you make that decision?

Jane – Since we hadn’t had a fundraiser in 2009 we felt it was important to re-engage our supporters in a meaningful way. We decided that offering our donors, funders and partners the opportunity to share an evening with the people of Rubicon would deepen our relationships. Corporate partners made the event possible by underwriting our costs. Our long-term supporters came out and they brought new people with them. And once again it was the stories that made the difference. Our guests had the opportunity to see how we change lives.

Saad & Shaw – Would you share your mission with our readers?

Jane – The mission of Rubicon Programs is to equip people to move out of poverty and to partner with people with mental illness as they begin their journey of recovery.

Our next post will have more information on Rubicon and their impact.

Learn more about Rubicon Programs Inc. at www.rubiconprograms.org or call (510) 235-1516.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.