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Recognizing donors important aspect of fundraising

Posted September 15, 2016 in Articles

Author: Ed Carroll, Cleveland Jewish News

For nonprofit organizations such as Menorah Park and Montefiore that are seeking planned donations, cultivating a relationship between the donor and the organization becomes more of an everyday process than an item to check off a to-do list.

Employees at the two health care facilities in Beachwood are keenly aware of the costs of providing care to seniors. Both also know how important gifts are to the organization and to donors, which is why Debbie Rothschild, director of the Montefiore Foundation, thinks planned giving, a type of donation which factors in tax laws to optimize the gift, is more of an ongoing process to provide the greatest charitable potential for both parties.

“What’s most important is on a regular basis, we have conversations with patients, family members, community members, board members and the like about what it means to ensure the quality care (for seniors) that’s so important,” she said. “And what that means is giving in ways that will literally and figuratively live on in perpetuity. People who are involved in an organization like Montefiore understand how important it is.”

Joel Fox, executive director of the Menorah Park Foundation, agreed, adding that his organization was blessed not to have to rely on fundraising tactics such as cold calling.

“Menorah Park is a big health care organization, with more than 900 people living on campus. They and their families are engaged in our activities. They know who we are. We don’t have to call and ask them to care about Menorah Park because they know what we do,” he said. “It creates a warm relationship with many people organically. When people are grateful for the service they receive, it makes for an easier fundraising experience.”

Fox added that Menorah Park’s repeat donors give with confidence, knowing that they’re giving to an organization that is stretching their donation and using their gift to benefit the community.

Similarly, at Montefiore, Rothschild said established connections between the organization and the community as well as word of mouth from its long history in Northeast Ohio helps boost donor confidence.

“As I move about in the community and talk to people, it’s remarkable the number of lives we’ve touched,” Rothschild said.

Fox said it was crucial to make sure communication between the organization and its donors extended beyond any fundraising goals. He said one of the most important aspects of his job is reaching out to donors even when there was no agenda, simply to let people know how their money is being used to enrich the lives of seniors.

Rothschild echoed Fox’s sentiments, adding that people have different intentions in mind when they make a gift.

“Following up with those folks and letting them know how their gift has impacted the organization is a very joyous part of my work,” she said.

Some donors prefer more than a follow up phone call. Both Montefiore and Menorah Park honor those who make gifts with mentions in the organizational newsletters and with their names inscribed on donor walls. While people can choose to make their gift anonymous, both Fox and Rothschild said they encourage those donating to make their gift public.

“When people are wavering on a decision to use their name, we encourage them to allow us to (make the gift public),” Fox said. “We believe using real names and real stories motivates other people to join in. We believe it shows other people have confidence in us and motivates others to follow their good example.”

Rothschild said her job is to make people feel good about the gift they’re giving, so she absolutely respects a donor’s wish to remain anonymous. However, she encourages people to be recognized as she thinks it shows an impact in the community. She said if someone sees their neighbor or friend’s name in the newsletter or on the donor wall, it might encourage them to give as well.

Both directors said they were grateful for the communities that Menorah Park and Montefiore serve.

“I’m very fortunate to be doing this work in the Jewish community and especially the Cleveland Jewish community,” Fox said. “People are used to giving, used to being asked and supportive of each other. They know we’re a nonprofit organization, know we serve many people who can’t pay anything for their care. We’re very fortunate and we appreciate our community.”

Rothschild also said people in the community understand how important the organization’s work is and was appreciative of the community’s support.

“I talk to people about something I care about that they care about,” she said. “The cost of health care is tremendous. Providing health care for people who are living out the later years of their lives with the greatest kindness, dignity and safety is a true mitzvah.”

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