IT’S ALL ABOUT
When it comes to cultivating major gifts,
finding a donor’s passion is paramount
Anne L. Matthews, a former Foundation trustee
and vice president of Rotary, has plenty of
experience talking with potential donors about
major gifts. She says the most important thing
she has learned is that you need to cultivate
“Just because somebody is wealthy doesn’t
mean you are going to walk in and get a major
gift from that person all of a sudden,” says
Matthews. “You have to earn their trust, and
that happens through relationships.”
That topic was on the agenda when the Major
Gifts Initiative Oversight Team met in August.
The team supports endowment/major gifts
advisers and coordinates the work of the
major gifts initiative (MGI) committees. These
committees support efforts to seek major gifts
that will fund Rotary’s work in basic education
and literacy, health, peace, and water and
Trustee Vice Chair Brenda M. Cressey, who
serves as liaison to the oversight team, explains
that The Rotary Foundation’s approach to fund
development has become more donor-centered,
placing more importance on each donor’s
interests. This shift has included, for example,
allowing Rotarians to direct their gifts to the
Annual Fund to a particular area of focus.
“When donors can see the actual outcomes and
impact of their gifts, it encourages them to do
even more,” Cressey notes.
Members of the oversight team shared
their insights on working with donors.
Anne L. Matthews, who chairs the MGI
committee that supports basic education and
literacy, recalls a wealthy Rotarian she met whose
wife had felt the long-term effects of polio for
years before she died. Through a series of phone
conversations, in-person meetings, and dinners,
Matthews learned the details of the story.
Matthews says, “At one point I said,
‘Gabby, wouldn’t it be great if you could make
a significant contribution in honor of her?’
He leaned back in his chair and said, ‘You know,
I hadn’t thought about that, Anne.’ And I just
said, ‘Would you give it some thought?’”
Two months later, he called to give $250,000 to
the PolioPlus Fund.
Chris M. Offer, past governor of District 5040
(Canada) and chair of the MGI committee for
peace, stresses how important it is to listen.
“A successful meeting is one where they have
talked more than I,” he says.
As a career police officer and the grandson
and son of military veterans, Offer says his own
interest has been peace. He recalls his dad, who
was wounded in war, talking about how terrible
and futile war is. But he is always ready to talk to
a donor about a different area.
“I went to talk to a couple about the peace
centers,” Offer says. “And the wife said, ‘I know
about peace, but I want to do something for
children.’ I had brought all this peace literature,
and I just stowed it away. I said, ‘Let’s talk about
what you can do for children.’”
A student works in class at Sônia
Braga da Cruz Ribeiro Silva school in
Contagem, Brazil. Aided by a Rotary
Foundation grant, students learned to
read and write together in small groups
by producing their own books.
Attendees at the 2015
Rotary Peace Symposium
in São Paulo, Brazil,
contemplate what peace
means to them.
Continued on next page