Greetings from France!
In my role as an endowment/major gifts adviser for The Rotary Foundation in France, I found that many of the strategies and guidelines provided during our training were difficult to implement in my region. I worked with my RRFC and his assistants to develop a regional strategy that is more effective for our region.
First, we identified the main cultural challenges in my region:
- Relationship between the French and money in general: In France, money is considered a private matter and it is somewhat taboo to talk about finances with others. Donors give very discreetly and publicly displaying that you are a donor is poorly perceived. Additionally, there is a strong tie between giving to public funds and community service.
- Tax code: Contributions made to the Foundation in France, and in many parts of Europe, are not tax deductible. Therefore, donors give to those non-governmental organizations which have the tax deductible accreditation. It is even trickier when you are proposing a Bequest as the French law provides descendants with right to a minimum share of an estate.
- Rotary giving culture: There is currently no established culture of individual contributions to the Annual Fund in France. Contributions are given by clubs, recognition programs are not popular, and public recognition events such for such things as Paul Harris Fellows or Major Donors are not very frequent or public.
All of these challenges make it very difficult to find a Rotarian who is ready to become a major donor. For the E/MGA, this made me ask the question: how can I be efficient? Here the strategy I have been using for the past eighteen months:
- Promote small individual gifts by encouraging clubs to register member contributions as individual contributions.
- Encourage Rotarians to become Benefactors and Paul Harris Society members.
- Promote individual gift history as a long term investment.
- Work with district leaders to make sure that major gifts information reaches every club member.
I work closely with the RRFC and his team of assistants to make sure we are supporting each other’s efforts. We work together to share information jointly through mailings and during training events. Since July 2014, we have secured two major gifts, four new level-1 donors and worked with a donor to increase their level of contributions. This may be just good luck but I think it has a lot to do with our strategy which we will continue developing and refining during the next eighteen months.