Major Gift Prospecting

Can you identify your top twenty prospects?
Have you ever done a wealth analysis of your alumni?
Do you know how to broaden your base of support?

Learn More

Every funding initiative begins with a simple question: "Who are we going to ask?" It's easier to close a single $100,000 gift, rather than one-hundred $1,000 gifts, so prospect identification is key to success.

There are three ways to identify potential donors, and we help you choose the best and most cost effective means to identify potential donors:

  1. Data mining relies on database queries done in-house to identify potential major gift donors. For example, we might search for the title "Dr." or "CEO" or query the database for all donors with single gifts of $1,000 or more.
  2. Electronic screening, such as that provided by Blackbaud Analytics, uses algorithms and publicly available data from many sources to identify people in your database with 'suspected' wealth.
  3. Peer review evaluation relies on a select number of individuals within each class to share more subjective data. Knowing the friendships and relationships within classes is extremely helpful when planning solicitation strategies

Feasibility Studies

Are feasibility studies necessary?
Why are so many studies invalid?
What can you do to ensure that your feasibility study prepares you to maximize gift revenue?

Learn More

Feasibility Studies help answer the question: "How much can we realistically expect to raise in a capital campaign?" But they are only valid if the best potential donors are included in the study. Too often, consultants rely on the client to produce a list of forty households for interviews, and the client fails to distinguish between those who have a heart for the mission, and those who have the capacity to fund it.

To get the most benefit from a feasibility study, we first work with you to identify the largest potential donors so that they can be included in the study. This ensures a study that is valid and maximizes potential gift revenue.

Campaign Readiness Assessment

There are five areas critical to capital campaign success.
Do you know what they are?
Are you ready?

Learn More

Is your school considering a Capital Campaign? Traditionally, the Feasibility Study has been used to estimate the giving potential for a funding initiative. It can be a prudent step in campaign preparations. Some organizations, however, benefit from a more comprehensive pre-campaign assessment. Here's why: Catholic school capital campaigns typically rely on the largest 40-50 gifts to make up as much as 70-80% of the total dollars raised. If these 40 households enthusiastically endorse a campaign, chances of success are good.

Still, we've seen instances where favorable Feasibility Studies did not lead to successful outcomes, because other factors adversely impacted the campaign. For example, we've seen a number of situations where donors were willing to give, but no one within the organization was comfortable asking! In other instances, the database tracking systems did not allow for an efficient prosecution of the campaign, burdening Administration and Development staff with a campaign that dragged on.

To ensure you are ready for a campaign, the Campaign Readiness Assessment answers five questions:

  1. Prospects - Who are we going to ask? Have we identified our largest potential donors?
  2. Relationships - Is our relationship with potential donors deep enough to warrant a 'yes' to our request for funding?
  3. Leadership - Who is going to do the asking?
  4. Mission - Why is it important that people give? Why now?
  5. Internal Systems - Do we have the capability to track the information necessary for a timely campaign?

A Campaign Readiness Assessment helps ensure an efficient, successful campaign.

Capital Campaign Management & Major Gift Solicitation Strategies

Do you know the #1 factor influencing major gifts?
Does it matter who does the asking?
Do you really have to ask for a specific amount? Is there a better way to communicate your needs?

Learn More

People support what they help create. Six and seven-figure gifts usually come from individuals who have been consulted pre-campaign; they give advice, help shape the plan, and gradually come to see the project as their project.

In this way, we help prepare your potential donors for a campaign. By the time campaign solicitations begin, they are already familiar with the project to be funded because they had some say in shaping it.

Thus, it's not a matter of whether they will support the project, but simply a matter of amount. To that end, we have developed ways to ask for support that are respectful, honest, and comfortable for those doing the asking.

Finally, if this is your first campaign, we would enthusiastically join you when you visit with potential donors.

Scholarship and Endowment Campaigns through Planned Giving

Can you identify the three most common planned giving vehicles?
Could you explain to a donor the benefits of a gift annuity, including the tax consequences?

Learn More

Many schools today see the need for establishing or growing endowments, and add this as a line-item in their capital campaigns.

While laudable, this approach has severe limitations compared to the establishment of a planned giving program.

  1. When the capital campaign is concluded, solicitations cease. The endowment then essentially lies dormant until the next campaign. In contrast, a planned giving program continuously seeks new contributors.
  2. Campaign pledges are most often paid with monthly income, i.e. from an individual's paycheck. In contrast, planned gifts typically come from one's accumulated life assets.
  3. Because planned gifts come from accumulated assets, they are typically several times larger than any capital campaign gift that the same individual might otherwise afford.
  4. Finally, planned giving greatly expands the prospect pool. Capital campaign gifts come from a very small percentage of households with the capacity to make a major gift. But because planned giving relies on accumulated assets rather than monthly income, planned giving expands the prospect pool to include a majority of your current donors. For example, even those incapable of making a major cash gift during life can still make a relatively large gift through their will.

In summary, if an endowment is to have an appreciable impact on a school, the corpus must grow to several million dollars. This is extremely hard to do through a capital campaign that relies primarily on cash and cash-equivalents.

We believe creating a planned giving program is a superior means to build a meaningful endowment. We will show you how to create, market and, if necessary, bootstrap a planned giving program.

Alumni Relations

Why do so few Catholic high schools have more than 30% participation in the annual fund?
After all that effort on the Alumni Newsletter, does anyone read it?
How do you involve your most successful alumni nationwide in advancing the mission of the school?

Learn More

Many consultants speak of 'cultivating' alumni. We would argue that most of the cultivating has been done, years ago, by great teachers who left memorable impressions upon their students.

What we need is not so much cultivation as captivation. What are we doing that captivates the imagination of our alumni, that causes them to say, "I wish we could have done that when I was in school! I wish we would have had a program and facilities like that!"

In short, our dreams for the school quite easily become their dreams, too, if we make room in our planning processes for alumni to share their experience and expertise.

In short, involvement precedes investment. We work with administration, alumni associations and class representatives to ensure there is an ever-widening circle of buy-in to the current objectives of the school, whether that be increasing the annual fund, creating scholarships, or supporting a capital campaign.

Marketing, Recruitment and Retention

What's the difference between marketing and recruitment?
Why must both be addressed?

Learn More

As tuitions continue to rise, marketing and recruitment take on added importance. To ensure full classrooms, we prefer to address marketing and recruitment as distinct endeavors.

Marketing refers to the impressions we create in the mind of the consumer before they ever step foot on campus. When they think of your school, what label do they place on it? What descriptors come to mind first? Is your school the 'college prep' choice? The 'elite' school? The athletes' option? We help you define an image that attracts families, causing them to take the first step toward enrollment.

Recruitment encompasses all activities the school undertakes once a family has expressed some interest, from open houses to classroom visits to placement tests. We map the steps from initial inquiry to matriculation, establish baseline data for each step of the recruitment process, then look for ways to retain greater numbers of interested families throughout the recruitment 'pipeline.'

Grant Writing

Do you know the #1 factor influencing grants?
What are the three foundation 'leagues'? Why is it important to know?
To what degree should your development effort rely on grants?

Learn More

Foundations can be a good source of periodic revenue for Catholic schools; they can also be the cause of much unfruitful effort. Given your particular needs, we (1) help you determine which foundations might be appropriate to approach, (2) develop a submission schedule, and (3) help shape the proposal's approach.

As needed, we also write the actual proposal, or help train someone at the school to serve as an adjunct grant writer.

Database Issues

How do you ensure data integrity?
Are you getting all the reports you need to make good managerial decisions?
Have you ever 'mined' existing data to maximize giving?

Learn More

Reliable data is central to development, yet it is the one area most often under-utilized or even neglected. The result is inefficient processes and overworked staff.

We are not technology consultants, but can help advise on basic data processes and procedures, and/or refer you to qualified trainers we've grown to trust.