Millions for HOPE – A teamwork best practice

 by Pam Russell – RRFC Zone 26 2013-2016, District 5340

When challenged to raise money for The Rotary Foundation, RRFC Pamela Russell, E/MGA Brenda Cressey, Past Trustee Steve Brown, and Major Gifts Officer Mike Dunlap worked with Rotary District 5340 as they set a goal of raising $15 million by October 2015 for their “Millions for HOPE” (Health, Overcoming Poverty, and Education) event.  Within the first six months, they had already achieved $10 million. This great achievement stemmed from leaders working together to provide training and ongoing support on donor identification and cultivation in the district.

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

Past Trustee Steve Brown talking with Ron Kohl and Antonio Grillo-Lopez, both significant donors in the campaign

The leaders engaged with the district governor, district governor-elect and their entire district committee to support their campaign, “Millions for HOPE”. With strong participation from the top 20 clubs in the district, the excitement was building. A key success for cultivating donors was to encourage them to specify where they wanted their donation to go. The donors chose to give to The Rotary Foundation in support of current work, Rotary’s future, a polio-free world or a specific project important to the donor.   This also allowed the district to reach their goal of $15 million in only 10 months.

On 17 October 2015, the “Millions for HOPE” Gala kicked off with a jazz performance and continued with dinner, a DJ, and dancing.  With more than 500 Rotarians in attendance– including local Rotaractors and President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, everyone was in high spirits. After the final numbers were announced, an anonymous donor spoke with Past Trustee Steve Brown.  The word was passed to President Ravi and he announced that there would be a match bringing the total donation to The Rotary Foundation to more than $31,000,000!

“Providing millions of dollars to The Rotary Foundation means providing millions of beneficiaries with opportunity” states RRFC Pamela Russell. “Raising $15.5 million as a team was already a huge accomplishment. Then to have a donor match it! It is hard to imagine what the impact is going to be. We are so pleased for District 5340 to have such a profound legacy” she continued.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

A balloon drop to celebrate the success of the campaign.

It is important to realize that working as a team, the organizers were able to support the district’s successful campaign and event, leading to a meaningful impact for the beneficiaries of Rotary service projects.  The skills you have as regional leaders can help districts with their Million Dollar campaigns and other events.

If you are interested in the training resources, contact E/MGA Brenda Cressey and RRFC Pam Russell. Check out the Facebook album of celebration photos.


Using Cultivation to Achieve Solicitation Success

By: Jenna Archuleta, Major Gifts Officer  

You’ve accepted the position, taken the training, and are ready to call your first major gift prospect. You review your research on the individual and begin dialing the phone. And then, you decide you need to think about it a little before you make the call. Hours turn to days, which turn to weeks and months that go by without you calling. “ What am I waiting for?” you ask yourself.

All fundraisers have been in this situation. But, with proper preparation, soliciting a major gift can be a simple, enjoyable experience.

Solicitation is the third of the four-step fund-raising process of Identification, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship. All steps are important, but many new major gift fund-raisers make the mistake of starting with solicitation. Measuring success in major gifts is very different than annual giving. With annual giving, success is measured when donors give money.

With major gifts, success can be learning about the donor’s family, educational background, or favorite Rotary project. Cultivation is the key to any successful major gift solicitation. Cultivation involves gathering information via insightful questions and thoughtful consideration of donors’ goals. Cultivation often starts with a request to have coffee.

Rather than requesting a significant gift right away, get to know your potential donor. What is special about Rotary for them? Why have they made charitable gifts in the past? What is their personal, professional, and Rotary history? What causes do they care about?

In these first meetings, do more listening than talking. Connect around shared Rotary passions if possible. As you get to know more about your potential donor, work with your major gifts officer to develop a customized cultivation strategy for each potential donor in your portfolio. Keep in mind that the major gift fund-raiser’s role is to use your meetings, phone calls and other communications with this potential donor to develop a Rotary relationship.

The success of your cultivation depends on asking for the right gift amount, for the right program, at the right time. The time is right for solicitation when your conversations and research have provided enough background to know that now is a good time for the donor to give, you have a mutual understanding of which programs or projects the donor is passionate about, and you have enough information to know an appropriate gift range for which to ask. When the time approaches for you to make a solicitation, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Acknowledge the donor’s past Rotary service and leadership.
  • Show Rotary Pride – for example, show your shared, personal interest in Rotary’s outstanding service projects around the world
  • Be considerate by asking for consideration – don’t begin the conversation with the question, “Will you give a gift”, start instead with “Will you consider making a gift?”
  • State the specific amount you are asking for them to donate.
  • State the specific designation such as a particular area of focus or a fund.
  • BE QUIET (let the potential donor speak first)

Prepare for your solicitation meeting by writing out what you plan to say and rehearsing it aloud. Common errors of major gift solicitation include:

  • Talking too much
  • Sounding cold or inconsiderate
  • Using words like “should” and “ought”
  • Asking apologetically or with embarrassment
  • Breaking eye contact
  • Rushing the ask
  • Breaking silence too soon after the ask

If you have done your homework and followed all the steps above, your solicitation is successful. Carefully cultivating your donor and learning more about their background and charitable goal will help you align his or her goals with the available giving options to create an enticing solicitation the donor will gladly fund. If you focus on cultivation, successful and simple solicitation comes naturally.

If you’re still a bit nervous about cultivating your first potential donor, watch these solicitation role-playing videos to learn some tips:

A New Fund Development Strategy

EMGA_Monteau_MichelWritten by Michel Monteau, endowment/major gifts adviser, Zone 11 & part 20B

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Promote small individual gifts by encouraging clubs to register member contributions as individual contributions.
  2. Encourage Rotarians to become Benefactors and Paul Harris Society members.
  3. Promote individual gift history as a long term investment.
  4. 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.

How E/MGA Noraseth Pathmanand achieves fundraising success!

NPThe newest members of the regional leaders team are the endowment/major gifts advisers (E/MGAs). E/MGAs are a resource for major gifts and the Endowment fund. Many E/MGAs have extensive experience raising funds for the Rotary Foundation.

E/MGA Noraseth Pathmanand joined Rotary in 1984 after a classmate at the SASIN Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand asked him to join him for lunch. When he arrived at the hotel, it turned out that lunch was a meeting to organize a new Rotary club – the charter Rotary Club of Bangrak. As much as Noraseth was surprised by the news that he was now a charter member of the Rotary Club of Bangrak, he happily joined the club. 30 years later, he is still active in Rotary.

Noraseth is a strong supporter of the Rotary Foundation and is passionate about raising funds for the Foundation. Noraseth’s fundraising strategy focuses on working with close friends or current supporters of the Rotary Foundation.During his initial solicitation meetings, he highlights the finer points of major gifts andcontributing to the Endowment Fund for the prospective major donor (or prospect) and he shares that he supports the Rotary Foundation for its mission and the work Rotary does in the eradication of polio. He thendetails the different programs and contribution options for the prospect to consider. For example, if a prospect is very passionate about preventing disease, Noraseth may provide more information about making a gift to that area of focus. He also encourages donors to consider different contribution options such as major gifts pledge agreements.

As an E/MGA Noraseth works closely with Rotary staff in Evanston.  He develops and sets contribution goals for each year, and provides regular updates to his fund development committee partner. He strongly encourages all endowment/major gifts advisers to lead by example and make their gifts early in the Rotary year.

Learn more about Rotary’s endowment fund, including gifts to the areas of focus, and see the 2014-15 list of regional coordinators and advisers on

RI President-elect Gary Huang recognizes Charter Paul Harris Society members in Nairobi

By Yinka Babalola, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, zone 20A-English

At a colorful dinner ceremony presided over by the visiting Rotary International President-elect Gary C.K. Huang in a Nairobi hotel on 7August 2013, Rotarians in newly formed district 9212 launched their first Paul Harris Society (PHS).

Rotarians in district 9212 pose for a quick picture with President elect Gary C.K. Huang.

Rotarians in district 9212 pose for a quick picture with President elect Gary C.K. Huang.

ARRFC Eric Kimani spoke at the event, asking Rotarians to engage more fully with their Foundation by becoming Paul Harris Society members. Twenty-two Rotarians responded to his personal, passionate speech by committing US$146,000 to become Charter Members of the PHS.

Recently adopted as a formal recognition program, Paul Harris Society membership is reserved for individuals who contribute $1,000 or more each year to the Annual Fund, PolioPlus or an approved Rotary Foundation grant.  Districts who appoint Paul Harris Society coordinators are provided with additional support and resources, helping them identify new members and thanking those who have already made their commitment to contribute each year.

District 9212 recently appointed Past Assistant Governor Richard Omwela as its PHS Coordinator, making it the third district in the zone to make an appointment, effectively showing the success this appointment can have on fundraising. Zone 20A English now has a Paul Harris Society formally in place in districts 9212 and 9101. Regional leaders are excited by the results and are encouraging other districts in the region to appoint Paul Harris Society coordinators, leveraging the immense potential this new donor group delivers to Rotary Foundation efforts.

Speaking at the dinner President-elect Gary expressed his deep gratitude on behalf of Rotary International for the commitment that Rotarians exhibited. He expressed his admiration for how local Rotarians’ financial support of The Rotary Foundation and commented on their deep involvement in Service above Self, as evidenced by the various club projects he had the opportunity to see during his tour.

Learn more about the Paul Harris Society on Rotary’s website.