Bequests came up twice at the Community Foundations Forum in Mackay last week.
First there was a presentation from Anna Herbert, Senior Development Officer – Bequests and Major Gifts at QUT.
Anna’s presentation was very stimulating, because after she had discussed the customer relationship management cycle usually presented as theoretical best practice in fundraising – identification, qualification, cultivation, ready to ask, solicitation, stewardship – she then questioned whether this really was how to develop donors, and how the larger gifts, especially those acquired through bequests, actually come about. Anna talked about the size of QUT, with an operating budget of $500 million, 4000 staff and 40,000 students, and how the giving program started there in the 1950s with staff giving tuppence a payday to help develop the university’s art collection. Now they raise around $25 million per year, the development section has 25 staff which includes 6 fulltime fundraisers and they have subfunds held through the Queensland Community Foundation.
Anna asked the question – “what would a donor think of the process of the donor cultivation cycle”? Is it a little calculated? Is it verging too close to “selling”?
She then gave some case studies of bequests which have come into the university recently which came from people who had no previous formal connection – and had certainly not been “cultivated” in the theoretical fundraising sense.
Anna’s talk reminded us that fundraising is not the art of asking, but the art of communication, that people give to people, donors give because you meet their needs, not every donor wants a relationship with their beneficiary organisation and that we as fundraisers should be asking ourselves – are we delivering?
In getting back to the basics of developing donors she reminded us of the importance of personal service, courtesy, manners, self discipline, not rushing others, and giving recognition when due.
She finished her presentation by mentioning Include A Charity which is a body advocating for people to consider bequests as part of their wills.
What do you think about Anna’s theory that the donor cultivation theory does not necessarily translate to major gifts and bequests – and that bequests can come from seemingly nowhere?