© 2018 5
Start a Fund in His or Her Name
By Daniel Lindley
When it came time to honor the final year of 20 years of
service from a beloved headmistress at the Louise S.
McGehee School (New Orleans, LA), some staff members
suggested it would present an excellent opportunity for
fundraising. But others balked, saying it shouldn’t be about
“It’s something we thought long and hard about,” says
Elenore Falshaw, director of development. “Eileen Power
was not just a successful head but a legendary head. It was a
different form of fundraising for us. We’d never done this
Nevertheless, the development team at the all-girls
private school moved ahead and announced a fundraising
dinner. Asking for donations of $500 per diner — steep for
New Orleans — they expected 40 to 50 guests. More than 80
The effort paid off handsomely, not just in receipts from
the fundraising dinner but in the virtuous circle of giving it
set in motion. Working with parents who owned a popular
restaurant, the school got a discounted price on the dinner
and netted $49,000 from the event. A couple attending the
dinner was inspired to launch a $12,500 challenge gift, which
brought in another $25,000.
The retiring headmistress herself was so moved by the
tribute that she launched her own $20,000 challenge to
alumnae, offering to match first-time alumnae donors and
those who increased their donations by an amount with the
number 20 in it, whether $20, $200 or $2,000. In addition,
another couple who had attended the farewell dinner made a
$50,000 donation to the school shortly thereafter.
“It’s funny how one thing can beget another, and it can
spiral in a really good way,” Falshaw notes. “It was a great
springboard of goodwill.”
In the one-year celebration of Power’s retirement, school
employees also paid visits to alumnae in Houston, New York
and Washington, D.C. during “the Eileen farewell tour” and
made asks totaling about $150,000. Many free events also
are planned, including teas, a Founder’s Day celebration and
a final farewell school assembly.
Falshaw says the school would probably honor another
retiree in the future, whether employee, board member or
volunteer, “but it would have to be a pretty special and very
well-known and beloved figure.”
“With not too much effort on our part, it was a very
satisfactory one-night fundraiser,” she says. “We concluded
that when you’re presented with a unique opportunity, why
wouldn’t you leverage it to the best advantage for the
school?” The initial disagreement about whether to raise
funds was due to “a little remnant ‘ladylikeness,’” says
Falshaw, adding, “Should we really ask for money? Hell, yes!”
Source: Elenore Falshaw, Director of Development,
Louise S. McGehee School, New Orleans, LA.
Phone (504) 274-4918. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improve the ROI
On Your Employee Campaign
Has your employee giving campaign stagnated? You’re not
alone. But there is a solution, advises Katie Dennehy,
manager of system gift programs, Mission Healthcare
Foundation (Asheville, NC): Take employee giving online
and brand it.
Partnering with United Way, Mission’s program
hovered at just a 1 percent participation rate and had been
in decline. Two years ago, the foundation largely ditched its
old paper program for an online portal. The foundation
branded the revamped giving program with the words,
“Give well,” to complement the hospital’s tagline of, “Be
well, get well and stay well.” With one click, a desktop icon
on employee computers provides direct access to an online
giving wizard. Employees can choose whether to give to
United Way, Mission or both, how much to give and how
“Everything is driven around choice and to make it as
simple as possible for the donor,” Dennehy says.
With real-time reporting, workers can see how their
teams are doing compared to others. The timely
information also has helped Dennehy and her department
evaluate their strategies and tactics, change messaging as
needed and work with team leaders whose donations are
Although the new giving program is almost entirely
digital, paper forms are still given to employees who seldom
use computers at work, such as those in housekeeping and
food services. The foundation also pushes the brand with
posters, table tents and other paper collateral.
Dennehy’s department has picked “employee
champions” across the health care system to serve as
“boots-on-the-ground super-communicators to spread the
message for us.” Busy nurses and other critical care staff
who might not have time to read computer messages are
treated to coffee beneath pop-up banners for the program
in the lobby. New employees learn about employee giving
The results have been impressive. Participation
increased to 33 percent by the end of the first year. Near
the end of the second year, it hovered around 29 percent.
From less than $400,000 raised in the year before going
online, revenues increased to $960,000 the first year and to
$1,007,650 near the end of the second year.
Although there was a start-up cost to building the
portal, it is inexpensive to run, Dennehy says. In addition,
it has “drastically” eased the back-office work of gift
processing and made reporting to partner United Way
Source: Katie Dennehy, Manager, System Gift Programs,
Mission Healthcare Foundation, Asheville, NC.
Phone (828) 213-1066. E-mail: Katherine.Dennehy@msj.org.