Fundraising successes don’t come overnight. They are built over time. It is the many “small” actions that build on each other and yield funding and resources.  

With this column we share with you the story of Lane College and its recent fundraising successes. Located in Jackson, Tennessee, Lane is a historically black college that needed to – and wanted to – increase its fundraising.  Two years ago they set a goal of raising $6 million over three years. They have raised $5 million and are closing in on the balance. In the past year the number of donors giving to the college increased by 23%, the amount of donations increased by 33%, and giving by alumni almost doubled.

How did they achieve all this? We talked with Lane College Chief of Staff Darlette Samuels to gain details to share with you. “We began thinking about our fundraising campaign and how we wanted to present our case. It was important for this marketing document to clearly and concisely communicate to a prospective donor the importance of giving to Lane and what the impact of their gift would be to the College,” says Samuels. They created their case. “We knew it was also crucial to employ a full-time person devoted to fundraising – absorbing time into special events, donor calls, direct mail and social media appeals, one-on-one donor visits and identifying those multiple tasks involved in fundraising. Additionally, donor records must be kept, gifts recorded, information tracked, mail-merge files created and acknowledgement letters generated so we invested in a donor management system.” One person with experience coupled with fundraising technology.

“From launching a fundraising campaign to posting regularly social media, effective message is also key to donor engagement and fundraising efforts. By the way, Tom Joyner selected Lane College to be a School of the Month that resulted in $100,000.”

Importantly President Logan Hampton got personally involved – and stays involved. To launch the campaign he called each trustee asking “What’s your prayer for the college? What is your passion and what is your pledge?” The result:  every trustee pledged at least $10,000.  “A young alumna is using her birthday as a fundraiser to make sure she raises her $10,000.  One board member celebrated his 50th year in ministry in which he raised $15,000 in one appeal,” shared Samuels.

Faculty members and the executive vice president actively pursue grants. They have received 11 grants for student development including an HBCU wellness grant from the Tennessee Department of Health, a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, and $50,000 from FedEx for the college’s career pathways initiative. President Logan is committed to building new relationships with corporate leaders, reaching out and sharing information, and asking for internships and gifts.

Samuels also shared that they answer the phone and talk with people who call! That may sound simple but we know of too many organizations that have lost gifts because they just couldn’t take the time to answer the phone. At Lane College one result of answering the phone is a new trustee. She called Lane College at the suggestion of a friend at one of the local manufacturing companies. Samuels answered the phone and the two had a great conversation. Fast forward, the college has a new engaged, committed and connected trustee.

Fundraising requires preparation and relationships: that’s how you get headed in the right direction.

Read our book Prerequisites for Fundraising Success to learn more.

Copyright 2018 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on Amazon.com. For help growing your fundraising visit http://www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

Image courtesy of Jerrye & Roy Klotz M.D.

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