Shaking the Apple Tree

Creating a Successful Fundraising Program

“First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf.” — Martin Luther

If you have listened to me long enough, you will recognize this quote from Martin Luther as my favorite example of the successful fundraising process: schools have limited time, limited staffing, and limited resources; therefore, to help bake their fundraising pie they need to first approach their best donor prospects (the ripest apples) and after that list of prospects have been contacted, go to the next best group (each limb), and then the rest of their prospects (branches, twigs, and leaves).

A school’s fundraising program can only be successful if someone actually shakes that tree; plenty of leadership boards and committees talk about the need for the apple tree to be shaken, or even talk about planting the tree in the first place, but to see donations someone has to do it. Branches do not shake themselves outside of a storm…

Six of our area Lutheran schools took the step, and a few more are looking into the options, to hire a part-time or full-time advancement staffer to take control of that apple tree.

And we couldn’t be happier.

Photo Credit: www.Keyhubs.com

Photo Credit: www.Keyhubs.com

Not only are current SGO scholarship balances and endowment matches growing for these schools, but their long-term success roots are growing in a promising pattern. One school reported that when their fundraising staff member recently reconnected with a lapsed major donor, the donor exclaimed, “I’ve been waiting for someone at [the school] to get going on this!” Another school reports raising the largest balance of SGO dollars ever, while another reached and surpassed its endowment match challenge for the first time in several years.

What could make us happier? More schools with staff to shake the trees. Give us a call and we can explain the options, the opportunities, and provide a few suggestions on helping fund the startup of this position.