Wisdom Wednesdays: Are You Asking Your Biggest Supporters?

by Fran Troxler

You work very hard to secure support for your organization.  But are you forgetting to ask some of your biggest supporters for gifts?  If your organization doesn’t encourage employee giving, you’re missing a major opportunity.  But how do you make the most of that opportunity?

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.  My good friend and colleague Brenda Meier Kimaro and I were roommates at an ALDE conference several years ago. Troxler-Fran We love to brainstorm ideas that lift up Lutheran World Relief’s ministry and encourage people to support us.  During that informal session (sitting in our hotel room) Brenda asked me point blank: “So, when do we ask LWR employees to give to LWR?”

Brenda takes her personal philanthropy very seriously.  She was eager to give.  Immediately, I asked her to be on my committee to launch the first formal LWR Employee Giving Campaign.  That was in 2002.  We wanted to make it fun, fast and easy.  That first campaign was titled, “TnT” (Talents and Treasures).  The committee was exploding with excitement.  We felt there were so many talented people who already contributed greatly to LWR with their talents, but we wanted to encourage financial gifts (treasures) as well.

Our staff responded to that first campaign with a 100 percent-plus participation rate (we also encouraged some of our consultants at the time to give … hence the 100 percent-plus).

LWR-staffphoto2012

Snapshot of some of the LWR U.S.-based staff that have been part of the 100 percent-plus giving program. Third row, fifth person from the right is Fran Troxler. Brenda Meier Kimaro is third row, last person on the left . Both LWR donors since 2001.

There are four key elements that help make our annual campaign a success:

  1. Create a campaign committee to encourage cross-institutional participation.
  2. Just like any campaign, have a beginning and end date so that people are encouraged to give during a specific timeframe.  We usually kick off the campaign at the beginning of our fiscal year (October 1) and the campaign runs through November.
  3. Make it fun and have a theme, along with incentives to give.  We have drawings for “fabulous prizes” donated by staff.  One of the most coveted prizes has been my famous wine basket, filled with wine purchased during trips to Napa or Sonoma.  The drawings (along with games) take place at our annual thank you luncheon.
  4. Last, but not least … thank, thank, thank your donors (and your campaign committee members.)

Since those early days of LWR’s Employee Giving Campaigns, we have raised more than $350,000, received pledges for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and had a whole lot of fun doing it.  Oh, did I mention 100 percent participation every year?!

Fran Troxler is Director, Donor Services with Lutheran World Relief in Baltimore, Md.

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