Your agency's fundraising program is like an iceberg

antique documentOne of the many projects I’m currently working on involves cataloging a resource development toolbox for a client. The things I’m finding in that toolbox are amazing and include: samples,templates, whitepapers, training curricula, calculators, and even an online wizard to help with resource development planning. (Cool stuff!)
However, there is one document I consider an absolute treasure for the ages. It was a speech delivered by Mrs. Leonard (Be) Haas in 1963 to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. The speech was titled “The 10 Basic Commandments of Successful Fundraising“.
(Note: In an effort to provide context and give credit where it is due . . . Haas was a fundraising consultant who helped launch Grizzard & Haas in Atlanta, GA which became a powerhouse fundraising firm in the Southeast United States. From what I can tell, the firm spun off into two powerful and influential firms today — Grizzard Communications and Alexander Haas, both of which are still located in Atlanta.)
After reading Mrs. Haas’ speech, I picked my jaw up off the ground and marveled at how on target she was about our profession more than 50 years ago.
While I would love to re-publish the entire speech, I’m not going to do it because:

  1. It is long
  2. While I’m fairly sure it is a public domain document (a 51 year old speech that wasn’t likely copyrighted), I want to be respectful.

However, there is one section of the speech that I can’t resist sharing. It is Haas’ fifth fundraising commandment that she titled “Consider the Iceberg”.  I encourage you to read the following passage and use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

“The actual mechanics of a fund-raising campaign all reduce themselves to very simple terms.  The job is to get the right man to make the right appeal to the right prospect for the right amount at the right time.  Guess you could call this our exclusive “Bill of Rights.” 
This objective may sound simple, but it requires as much behind the scenes planning and hard work as the part of the iceberg below the sea relates to what you see above the surface.  Getting the right people committed to work, compiling a list and evaluating the prospects so that you have the right prospects, putting those two together so that you have the right man making every important solicitation-armed with a pre evaluated request for a specific amount, this vital planning and preparation takes a lot of – time, hard work and know-how. 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., once said, “When you have gone to all the trouble to sell a prospect on the worthiness of your project, he also has the right to expect you to answer his next question-how much should I give?”
Our experience shows that making specific, individualized requests are imperative for success.  By this we do not mean asking the prospect for X dollars.  Rather, you would say “We are seeking 19 gifts in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and we hope you can make one of these,” or “We must have a grant of $100,000 to kick this campaign off and assure success.”
Organizing the soliciting teams, scheduling the campaign, pre-selling the prospects, backing up the solicitor with a competent office staff, these are all part of the iceberg beneath the surface of fund-raising. This thorough approach spells the difference between success and failure.”

Have some time on your hands? Click here to read the speech in its entirety.
Does your agency have a fundraising toolbox? If so, what is in it? Is there something in it that you believe everyone needs in their toolbox? What is it? Would you like to share it? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. Please also share your reaction to the snippet from Haas’ 1963 fundraising speech.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. Great post, Erik! This speech underscores the importance of having good gift acceptance policies and an operating plan in place to back up our brilliant marketing. We always need to “Begin with the end in mind” and ask ourselves what we will do when our marketing campaign is successful and the prospective donor responds. Otherwise our donors may become frustrated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.