Philanthropy Committee Completes First Year of Work

–submitted by Renee Moe, Philanthropy  Committee Chair 

“What’s the difference between the Rotary Club of Madison Foundation and the Rotary International Foundation?”
“Didn’t I already make my gift to Rotary this year?”
“I thought the annual fund drive supported scholarships.”
“What’s the expectation for giving? I already pay for my dues and lunches.”
“There seems to be an awful lot of asks coming from the podium – how much is too much?”

OUR FOUNDATION’S GIVING PRIORITIES
The Philanthropy Committee with input and approval of the Board and Trustees announced our Club’s four giving priorities at the July 25 lunch meeting which are, in priority order:
1) Annual Fund Drive;
2) Rotary International Foundation;
3) Birthday Gift;
4) Synergy Scholarship Fund

Click here for more information on these priorities; the timing of each; and recommended giving to each.

All fundraising chairs will reference these priorities at the podium throughout the year to provide focus and clarity when members make their personal decision regarding what to support throughout the Rotary year.

WHY DID WE DO THIS?
   The questions above led the 2011-16 Strategic Planning Committee to think about our Club’s Philanthropy. Over the years, many creative ideas and forward-thinking Rotarians developed new and innovative reasons and methods for giving.

By 2011, there were no fewer than two dozen ways to give and projects/areas to give to!

The multitude of options created a need to “clean up” and re-focus our Foundation’s philanthropic initiatives for increased member understanding. Membership comments seemed to boil down to this:

“I want to do the right thing. I want the right thing to be reasonable and advance our Club’s priorities. Help me understand what that right thing is, because as giving programs are communicated and executed now, it’s confusing to know what my expectations for giving actually are.”

   Further, we determined it was very difficult for new members to understand that giving is a cornerstone of member engagement and participation. While the expectation is included in orientation, the various appeals and programs were difficult to understand as they were presented throughout the Rotary year. We did not want this to become a disincentive for member retention and a quality member experience.

“It took me three years to figure out the giving programs. I thought I made my gift when I joined and made my first dues payment. Then, the annual fund drive came up. I assumed I had already given and was surprised when I got a follow-up call asking me to give.” 

“It took me a while to figure out what money went where. I really liked the Ethics Symposium and scholarship programs, and didn’t realize dollars for each came from different sources within the club.”

THE PHILANTHROPY COMMITTEE IS BORN
   So, the Club’s strategic plan called for the creation of a Philanthropy Committee. It was to be composed of Chairs of all the major fundraising groups, as well as club leadership:

  • Madison Rotary Foundation President and VP
  • Rotary Club of Madison President and VP
  • Fund Drive Committee Chair
  • Madison Rotary Foundation Major Gifts Committee Chair
  • Rotary international Committee Chair

Its charge is to:

Provide a venue for the planning and execution of an overarching philanthropy strategy for the Rotary Club of Madison and Madison Rotary Foundation, inclusive of other Rotary world interests such as Rotary International Foundation and Rotaract. The Committee works in concert with the committees and boards represented on the committee, as well as with other club members and staff working on Tri-Quest, Centennial (including Family Fun Fair), Scholarships, and other fundraising activities such as birthday contributions, fines, memorials and new ideas.

The committee’s duties include:

  1. Serving as a clearing house and evaluation mechanism for ideas
  2. Creating opportunities for communication and planning
  3. Articulating a philosophy, strategy and plan for philanthropy, including an annual calendar and member expectations

Members of the inaugural committee included Renee Moe, Ellsworth Brown, Michelle McGrath, Paul Riehemann, Wes SparkmanFran Taylor, and Tripp Widder. The committee worked very hard to keep the strategic objectives and members’ best interest at the forefront of all decision making. Care was also taken to update the Board and Trustees and get their input throughout the year, as well as to keep membership informed of committee progress from the podium. In the 2011-2012 year, the committee met six times to advance their work plan, engaged both Boards four times; and made membership update announcements six times.

RESULTS
The Committee was pleased to accomplish all objectives set out for the year. Specifically,

  1. Evaluating and documenting current giving programs
  2. Developing a system of criteria and an evaluation process for new fundraising proposals
  3. Recommending priorities for member giving, including a donor giving profile to clarify priorities for an improved member experience

A recap of these results and the new donor summary was shared with the membership at the July 25 Rotary lunch. Members not in attendance received their summary via mail. So far, all responses have been positive.

“The Giving Profile is excellent.  Well done!  This is exactly what we need.”

“Congratulations on producing the giving summary. The comments at my table were extremely positive. People really seemed to “get it” and appreciate the effort that went into this thoughtful tool.”

It should be noted that all previously exiting projects/areas remain available to be funded by member gifts.

NOW WHAT?
The Philanthropy Committee will continue to meet quarterly and has developed its 2012-13 work plan. Ellsworth Brown has agreed to step into the Vice Chair role and will take over as Chair in 2013-14 for a smooth leadership transition.
Committee membership now includes: Renee Moe, Ellsworth Brown, Richard Bliss, Cathy Durham, Michelle McGrath, Ruth Shelly, Wes Sparkman.
It is our plan that the membership, orientation and other key committees work in concert to consistently communicate our Club’s overall expectations of membership (dues/lunches, attendance, participation in leadership and fellowship committees, philanthropy), including our four giving priorities (annual fund drive, RIF, birthday, Synergy).
Ultimately we hope that you, our members, have a better understanding of the various fundraising “asks,” know more about where your donations are being put to work, and have more clarity around overall giving expectations for better, personal decision making.

YOUR FEEDBACK AND OUR THANKS
   The Committee welcomes your feedback and will use it to improve upon this first year of work. Thank you for your generosity and Service Above Self!

One response to “Philanthropy Committee Completes First Year of Work

  1. Perry A. Henderson

    Renee et al,
    Job well done. I’m sure there are/were many members who are/were “fuzzy” on the ramifications of giving within our club. I have found myself frequently explaining to members the difference between The Madison Rotary Foundation and the Rotary International Foundation . Although I am personally comfortable with my understanding of the Birthday/Centennial Celebration and Synergy programs, I’m sure they are confusing to others, especially new members. You should know that during the most recent new member orientation, 8/1/2012, Virginia Bartelt explicitly covered your information on priorities and timing of gifting opportunities, followed by discussion and several questions were answered. It was w ell received.

    Thank you for all your efforts.

    Perry A. Henderson

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