I know it has been a while since I posted, but I have been not only working but interviewing for my first full-time job out of college. A couple weeks ago, I started interviewing with a couple high-level Morgan Stanley Smith Barney employees. These two guys were personal friends of Doug, which is why I was afforded the opportunity to interview with them. What was meant to be a simple informational interview turned into an invitation to start the application process. I had to take an exam online (financial services math exam) and go through an interview with a regional sales manager, but I walked out with a job offer after only 2 weeks in the process. I know I did not end up in the non-profit sector as I thought I would after being in the D-SIP program, but I got an amazing job with a world renowned company in one of the toughest economies our country has faced since its inception. I will definitely be working myself to the bone starting in mid-September, but I will be doing something I’ve always wanted which is developing strong client relationships with new, highly-influential people while making a significant contribution to their lives. This contribution is centered primarily around their long-term financial goals, and maybe more indirectly around helping the metro-Detroit community (which I always have in mind). I have no doubt that I will take the things I’ve learned from D-SIP as well as the Fisher Foundation internship and the relationships I’ve built to personally make a meaningful impact in my community and the institutions that ensured my success. And, fortunately I get to stay in the metro-Detroit area as I start this new job.
Enough about the new job. I need to share some information about my current job. So, Doug Stewart – my boss has finally returned to the office after spending a few weeks at various conferences and some well-deserved vacation time. As I continue to work on my giving opportunities project and some grant summaries of projects to which the foundation has contributed, Doug has me listening in on his phone meetings with various organizations requesting funding. There were two meetings today he asked me to sit in so I will just share the general situation (minus the names of the organizations and those details) to highlight some of the key takeaways development professionals should know when developing relationships with donors or potential donors.
On the first call, the new development director called to introduce herself as the new liaison with the foundation. Doug has had an extensive relationship with one of the past development directors as well as a few other involved individuals with this organization and is a board member for her organization. Doug has personally made an annual gift for the past few years to this organization and has brought a proposal to the foundation board on their behalf in the past (which didn’t pan out). After the development director introduces herself, she begins to talk about a new program the organization is putting together soon and asks Doug if the foundation would be willing to fund it at various levels. This particular program does not exactly fit with the foundation’s impact areas or interests at this time so Doug tells her just that. He tells her that he does plan on contributing, personally, as he has in the past and that the foundation would be glad to provide advice/consultation if she ever needs it.
Maximum – ask for Doug’s annual gift
Minimum – Introduction (as new Dev Director) & Introduce this new program, but don’t make the ask for that
Doug tells me this is fine, but here are some things she could have done differently. She should have mentioned in the beginning the homework she had done on the relationship the organization has had with Doug over the years before she became the new director. She could have found out a lot of information about the proposal that didn’t work out in the past and the undeveloped relationship the organization has with the foundation. Then she may not have made the ask for this new program, knowing that the foundation had not made any gifts to them in the past. Definitely, the minimum outcome would be getting Doug to reinvest in the program he has contributed to in the past. Maybe she should have started with that, seen how (well/or bad) that conversation was, then once she got a yes for that, she could move forward with this new project. Either way, he says the conversation went fine.
The second call came out of a brief interaction Doug had with a corporate/foundation relations professional from a university. She connected him to development director as well as a physician working on a particular program that needed funding. The three individuals were on the conference call with Doug as I listened. This program they pitched, almost immediately in the short conversation, did not have a significant connection with the foundation’s geographical interests or its impact areas. The physician went into detail about the program, which for the most part had already been outlined in an e-mail that had been sent over beforehand (with the funding request amount included). The development director asked about the foundation’s key areas and if there was a match between them and their program to which Doug had to tell them that it was not going to fit right now, but possibly down the road the foundation might reach out to new impact areas that would include projects like this one.
Maximum – Find out the foundation’s impact areas and if they match with the focus of the program.
Minimum – Tell Doug more about the program and its details.
Since the foundation is invite-only when it comes to proposals, I think it was too soon for the group to include the dollar amount they wanted to request from the foundation. I also think once it was a three-on-one conversation, they expected this phone call to lead to an instant “yes” we’ll take your proposal. However, I think it was too soon in the relationship to bring in the physician involved in the program. Maybe a discussion with the development director alone would have told them they would not fit right now. The physician would not have had to dive into all of the intricate details of the program or examples of ways they are impacting the community in which they operate. Doug told me that my idea of the maximum and minimum outcomes was fine, but they should have done something else. They could have set up a specific meeting time down the road to inform the foundation of new developments with their project/how it might fit with the impact areas to make that connection. He also mentioned “permission-based marketing.” Instead of just starting the program description very early on in the meeting (in the first interaction with the donor) and just barreling through it all quickly, make sure your goals and the donor’s goals are in sync – gain permission to market your program to them. When the first interaction is over the phone (and only scheduled to last a half hour), it is too difficult to get through your organization’s goals and activities, a specific program that needs funding (an ask) and develop a relationship with the donor.
So, in one day, I learned a ton about development interactions and the moves management process. I am definitely getting the hang of predicting what the maximum and minimum outcomes should look like (standing in the shoes of the development professional as well as the donor). As I finish up the last 3 or 4 weeks of the internship I hope to share more of these interactions or anecdotes about development. I apologize for the lack of posts on my part for the past few weeks (it has been a busy but rewarding time for me). Until next time…