While on a recent trip to Austin, I read an article in The New York Times about how New York City Mayor (and uber-philanthropist) Michael R. Bloomberg and George Soros are providing $60 million to the city government to support an effort to improve the circumstances of African-American and Latino male youth — with the rest of the funds provided by the Bloomberg Administration. This particular passage caught my attention:
A few weeks ago, Mr. Bloomberg called Mr. Soros, who has spent millions of dollars on programs to help black men in Baltimore and other cities, and invited him to lunch. The mayor asked the financier to match his donation for a program in New York, and Mr. Soros quickly agreed.
“When the mayor approached us,” Mr. Soros said, “he was knocking on an open door.”
In this instance, Mr. Soros meant that because he has long supported programs focused on these demographics, this new initiative was a perfect fit for him. I know that most fundraisers are happy just to keep the funders that they have on board in this rocky economic climate, but this article was a nod to the critical job of identifying and cultivating new donors.
Earlier today, the live broadcast of The Michael Chatman Giving Show reminded me of the importance of knocking on these open doors. April Northstrom, President of Jigsaw Communications, was the guest on the show with guest host Ian “On-Air” Adair; they reviewed the show’s Top 10 Foundations List (see here for April’s recap of the show and for more on the list) and later discussed the importance of actively seeking out those funders who would be logical partners in your organization’s work. April and Ian were particularly emphatic when it came to being proactive about sharing your organization’s work with prospective funders and seeing where it leads (especially in situations where you can capitalize on the relationships that your board members may have). As fundraisers, it is our duty and responsibility to identify those prospective funders who could support and further our organization’s respective missions (a point that I make regularly here at The Good Steward).
With all of this in mind, how often do you go knocking on an open door? How many open doors need to be knocked on for your organization? And how many closed doors can be opened with some effort?
You should check out April on Twitter and her Grant Savvy blog! You should also be listening to The Michael Chatman Giving Show every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. — you can stream it live here and/or follow the #GivingShow hashtag on Twitter. You never know what you may learn from this informative 30-minute show!