Interview with Mary Jo Ketchum
  August 30, 2000

TIMING: What happens when you fall short of your fund-raising goal? How do you keep the momentum rolling? What is the ideal time frame? How long should it last?

Giving is cause-related. Need is a great motivation, both for the committee and for the donor. How many times have you heard it said: "We are only three calls away from reaching our goal during this hour!" Or, "If we don't raise $85,000 by June 30th, we will not be able to open the camp for the acute-disabled this summer." Those statements are persuasive. You need to take your cause and need to the public, to those who care about your organization and are in a position to give. Tell them what the effect of falling short will be. Focus in on the particular, not the overall monetary goal.

Momentum flags even among the best of us. For each I believe it is the internal sense of responsibility and/or the expectation of others which propels people to push again and again. One friend of mine, who chaired an event I managed, told me outright to keep the spear in his back, and to remember that if I didn't others would, and his energy would flow accordingly! Remember, people give to people and because of people. Look at your cause in that light and communicate it that way.

One campaign in New York City, to rehabilitate a theatre, suffered from spiraling costs, so that each time they reached a goal, the goal grew! The development personnel went back to those who gave to tell them of the expanded need and to ask for additional gifts. The critical nature of the need motivated them to respond with increased donations. Of course they expanded their prospect list as well. And the public sector, in this case, the city of New York, stepped up to the plate to increase grants as well.

Is there an ideal timetable? You will notice a flurry of solicitation mailings in October and early November. That is when people decide on their tax-deductible gifts before year's end. It is good to be in that pile of mail, to be one of the options.

Annual giving campaigns often run during the organization's fiscal year, closing, perhaps on June 30th. Yet people will frequently lump those appeals into their year-end batch and make all decisions then.

Timeliness comes into play when there is an incident that spurs on a request, such as a natural disaster or fire. To remedy the damage and loss an appeal is issued.

A matching grant might require your organization to come up with $10,000 in three months.

For campaigns to raise capital funds, 18 months is the minimum amount of time to plug in to your planning, and I see that those campaigns usually run over two giving-decision periods, at the least. You have to factor in the getting-started segment, which can take six months.


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