The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Special Session: “Funding the Future: Success by the Millions” with Marianne Jones

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This ongoing series explores sessions of the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) through participant narratives. MLDP is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.

MLDP participants listening attentively to speaker Marianne Jones

Marianne Jones, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire, led this special session entitled “Funding the Future: Success by the Millions .” Focusing largely on leadership gifts, the session included some fundraising basics, including: Believe in what you’re doing – even be passionate about it -- and feel comfortable in it. Establish and maintain a relationship with donors. Donors give based on an emotional response with a cause, a candidate, an institution; no matter how wonderful the cause, you won’t get someone to contribute unless it’s the “right” cause. The biggest barrier to getting a gift is the failure to ask. Be specific in stating what contribution you’re seeking, but also do your research on the donor -- educational institution, value system, interests, giving history, and family well-being -- before asking for a gift. Fund raisers should set the example of leadership with a contribution matching that of the amount being asked of the donor. Fundraising events need to be centered around a life-and-death cause: If you don’t give, someone will die. Events that tend to do best are grass roots, local events run by volunteers, with no salary involved.

Jones cited some interesting statistics. Fundraising organizations that are most successful are those that include at least 30% women in their leadership ranks. Americans give 2% (urbanites closer to 4%, suburbs less) of their annual gross income to philanthropy. NH is the lowest-giving state in U.S. Religion ranks highest in giving causes at 50%; health and human services are next at 25%; the arts get about 5%. 80% of all money to charity is from individuals; 15% is from grant money; 5% from corporations.

Participants did a one-minute solicitation role-playing exercise in groups of 2-3, assuming either a solicitor or a donor identity, then the whole group reconvened to talk about whether and why the “ask” was successful.

Sadhana Hall offered some remarks at the end of the session. How can you give back to causes that mean something to you? Even in a volunteer capacity, you can achieve much. Develop technical competence. Know your audience, their background. Be authentic. Mean what you say. Back up your actions. Be clear about what you want.

Summing up all of the session’s advice, fundraising should make the giver feel as though giving is a wonderful opportunity.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences