Adam Schwartz: Feature Fundraiser

It’s time for the regular Featured Fundraiser. Adam Schwartz from the Jewish Federation is speaking with us today. They are trying some new techniques to reach former donors. Thank you Adam for your words today. – Jason

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am involved in fundraising for the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. I have been working for the Phoenix Federation for six years and have worked in the Jewish Federation system for over 20 years. The fundraising I do is to raise money for Jewish education/continuity and social service programs run locally, in Israel and in numerous countries around the world.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

The opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of others is what keeps me going. Knowing that I am playing a role in making someone’s life a little bit better than it would be without us is a powerful opportunity. And having the opportunity to help build a community that is able to provide wonderful opportunities for future generations provides me with a tremendous source of inspiration to keep doing what I am doing. Prior to working in development I found myself frequently asking what I was contributing to the betterment of society/our world. And in working with the Federation, I know that I am making a contribution. The final reason is to help ensure that as my children, grandchildren (years from now when I have them) and future generations are able to have the same kinds of meaningful/enriching opportunities that I had growing up.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

One thing I believe to be critical to being successful in development is to be true to yourself. While the field of fundraising has been likened to sales by many (and in many respects it is) you must truly believe in your cause to be successful. You have to be able to demonstrate a passion for your cause. Another thing to keep in mind is that in development you are not selling a product. You are selling an opportunity. An opportunity to make a difference in some meaningful way. Because of this it is also critically important not to presume anything. Especially during difficult economic periods like we are facing now, it is easy to presume that people are not going to make charitable contributions. Finally, it is of utmost importance to make contact with donors at times other than when you are asking for a contribution. There needs to be some form on periodic/ongoing contact so that the donor does not think you are only interested in their financial support, but that you are really working as their partner in helping to respond to an important need.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

The most frustrating thing I have to deal with is overcoming the presumption that the only reason I am contacting a donor is to ask for money. This creates a challenge in developing a deep, meaningful relationship with the donor who is truly your partner in responding to important needs.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

In some respects I find every donor visit to be memorable. I truly enjoy the opportunity to get to know people who have similar beliefs and passions as mine. And it is always rewarding to let people know the difference they are making in the lives of others.

You’ve recently been involved with an innovative donor cultivation initiative called New Move; what’s special about the program and what have the results been?

The program, which is aimed at stabilizing the Federation system’s donor base and reverse a longtime attrition rate, reaches former donors who have moved from one Federation area to another but have not been identified until now. New Moves, which has reached over 65,000 contacts system-wide, is special in that it allows us to work as part of a continental system maintaining contact with donors who have supported our cause in another community. It provides us with a tool to reach out to people and welcome them into the community we are trying to build in the greater Phoenix area. Because of this initiative our initial contact is not a “blind” contact. We are able to initiate contact with people having the knowledge that they were connected to a Federation in another community which is something that we can build upon for the future.

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