This month’s Fundraiser of the Month is Erica de Klerk! As you many of you know, I highlight a different fundraiser every month and asking them to talk about what makes them good at what they do. Last month I highlighted Chris Logan. Feel free to refer someone you know of that’s a great fundraiser in the comments section below.
What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?
I am the Director of Stewardship (Major Gifts) for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Washington Chapter.
What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?
The interactions with those who are motivated to give, because they or someone close to them are impacted by the disease. This past week I spent an hour-and-a-half meeting with one of those individuals, who has been giving to the MS Society for many years but is not really connected to the organization. I had the opportunity to listen, share information and determine how to engage this donor best in our work in a way that was meaningful to her. If I were sitting in the office all day, analyzing research and giving patterns, I would not be working in development. It is the relationships that keep me motivated, challenged and enjoying my work.
What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?
Do not underestimate the power of thank yous, for all your donors. If you have doubts on the effectiveness of a simple phone call to recognize a gift, check out Penelope Burke’s, Donor Centered Fundraising. I had a recent example when notified of a gift given through direct mail. These individuals receive a thank you letter in the mail, but it is up to me to make a thank you call. As I dug deeper into this donor’s history I found some connections to one of our board members, who was able to give me additional information prior to the call. When I spoke with the donor on the phone, who we had yet to build a relationship with, she was eager to meet with me. Had I not made that phone call, that opportunity may not have come for some time longer.
What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?
It takes time, and patience. We have to be attentive to many different motivations for giving, and learn how to sustain these over time. It is important to determine strategic priorities, develop plans, but to know that ultimately there are many variables affecting these. More recently the economy has become a variable in fund development, another is the internal culture around fundraising- that is is not just the responsibility of the development staff, all staff have a role in fundraising including the IT staff and program managers.