publication date: Jul 23, 2011
Ask for the order. Believe in what you're asking for. Eat
your own cooking. Those three fundraising principles led a team of volunteers
Christian Resource Centre
to a $7 million fundraising success.
"It's a classic tale of ‘the little engine that could,'"
says board chair Greig Clark
was involved in the campaign from the beginning.
A candidate for
TCRC's neighbourhood, Regent Park, is one of Toronto's most
challenging areas and home to the city's first large-scale social housing
project. The organization faced a
history of operating deficits, the loss of its old building as the neighbourhood
was redeveloped, and the opportunity to run a $20 million building comprising a
community hub for social services and 87 units of affordable housing even
though it had no track record as a landlord.
Its "influence and affluence" network was skimpy; its
building management experience even more so. But its case was compelling and
backed by passionate volunteers.
Networks don't have
to be corporate, visibly powerful
Clark's team tackled the operating deficit first. Individual
donors and a few business supporters helped eliminate that. Then the team went
out to the one network it had - the United Church of Canada.
Simple lunch-and-learn sessions introduced congregational
leaders and individual prospects to TCRC's service record and the extraordinary
opportunity that awaited it. "It was really helpful to start small," Clark
recalls. "The lunch-and-learn asks were very modest, but they got us started.
They helped us build leads, enthusiasm and volunteer confidence." The spirit
that developed from those early achievements propelled the team to more success
and provided consolation and encouragement in times of disappointment.
Eventually, about half of the donors who had helped
eliminate the operating deficit gave to the building campaign as well. New
prospects committed, as did several congregations.
Wisdom to share
Clark emphasizes that what the team members lacked in
high-profile fundraising experience, they made up with an unshakeable
commitment to TCRC's new vision and the ability to describe it consistently,
enthusiastically and compellingly.
With that goal attained, he's sure that the same three
principles that kept the TCRC team going can guide others to ambitious targets:
Ask for the order.
Believe in what you're asking for.
Eat your own cooking (contribute to the campaign
yourself before you ask anyone else).
For more information, Greig Clark