When I arrived at Powell Gardens, I told the Board I could build their garden, but I was NOT a fundraiser. As President and Executive Director, I soon realized the need for outside funding if the Gardens were going to grow and prosper. Membership programs were started, earned income streams were developed, capital campaigns were initiated and finally, endowment campaigns were begun.
Now, 30 years later, the Gardens have been built and are thriving – and I am not only Director Emeritus, I am also a fundraiser.
None of this happened overnight, and my evolution to a successful fundraiser took time, practice and guidance from other knowledgeable professionals. It started out as a task of which I wasn’t too sure and is now one with which I am not only comfortable but enjoy. So how does this fundraising success start?
Two traits you must have before worrying about the mechanics of ‘how to ask’ are 1) a passion for the project and 2) the ability to form nurturing relationships with your donors. We shouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t have a passion for public horticulture, but it goes further with a complete knowledge and understanding of the project – whether plants, design or programming – and the ability to articulate what the result will mean for the community and the donor.
We often talk about cultivation and donor relations, but I believe it goes deeper: forming a nurturing relationship with the donor. Although I am Director Emeritus of Powell Gardens and no longer participate in direct fundraising for the Gardens, I have past donors that still call me and invite me for coffee or lunch. These are nurtured donors and true friends.
Yes, there are tips and tricks (if we must call it that) to the trade. Over the years I had the great fortune to work with Jeffrey Byrne + Associates (JB+A) and hone my skills. Together we completed two successful capital campaigns for Powell Gardens. Now, as a fundraiser I never thought I’d be, I work with JB+A in supporting public horticulture professionals like you.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran in fundraising, or just starting out, JB+A and I can help you achieve fundraising success for your gardens. You can benefit from our experience and expertise – and have fun along the way.
Want to learn more about JB+A and our fundraising services specifically for botanical gardens? Contact me here. You can also give me a call or email me. I’d be happy to visit with you.
Senior Consultant, JB+A
Director Emeritus, Powell Gardens
Past President, current member of the American Public Gardens Association