In the fall of 1992, I got a call from a colleague, asking if I would be available to raise money for an African American private academy in Seattle’s Central District.
The school had 550 students and had never raised funds from the community. The low tuition, paid by the families, meant low pay, no insurance, and no pension for the outstanding teachers, who could have been earning far more in the public school system. Working at the school was a ”calling” for most of the teachers; they did not want to leave. Yet they needed more pay.
Just before the twelfth school year started in September, the principal had called a friend in the business community to ask for help. They put together a prestigious non profit fundraising board that encouraged the principal to give raises to the teachers, plus benefits. That one change increased the school's annual budget by $500,000.
By November of that year, no money had been raised. I went to visit. I toured the school and even rode the school bus that took the kids home. I met with the principal and his wife, and agreed to help them raise the $500,000 needed by June. We were already three months behind. It seemed like a worthy challenge!
I worked at the school for the next two years and seven months. Over that time, we raised $7.3 million, including pledges. By the time I left, we had pledges for unrestricted operating funds for $850,000 for each of the next five years, or over $4 million. In addition, we had conducted the first phase of a capital campaign, which raised over $3 million, including pledges.
After I left, I took some time off to reflect and digest what had happened. My phone kept ringing. Having heard about the results at the school, many other organizations called to ask if I would please do that same thing for them. They thought that by hiring the right development director, all their fundraising problems would be solved.
In the spring of 1996, I began returning the calls and inviting people to participate in a workshop and coaching program where I would customize the model to their organization’s unique needs and coach them for a year to implement it successfully. I called it Raising More Money: Building a Self-Sustaining Individual Giving Program.
In 2006 we changed our name to Benevon.
Since that first non profit training workshop in 1996, Benevon has worked with more than 5,000 teams from organizations of all types and sizes. We track metrics obsessively, modifying and tweaking our formulas to enhance success.
We now know that this format works for all types of nonprofit organizations. Large and small; local, regional, national and international. Human services, health care, arts, environmental, educational, housing, policy organizations, professional associations, you name it.
The principles of our workshops today are the same as they were in 1996: training and coaching highly motivated people over a span of several months and years to customize and implement a step-by-step system for building non profit sustainability from mission-based donors.
My goal is to shift the culture of nonprofit fundraising from the old scarcity-based treadmill of direct mail, grant writing, and special events to an abundance-based culture of philanthropy that engages individual donors who want to sustain and fulfill the mission.
Anyone with a deep passion for the long-term financial sustainability of their nonprofit organization who works with Benevon to customize our now-proven step-by-step process can attain financial sustainability for their favorite nonprofit.
I invite you to contact us to see how this can work for you.
Our Name and Logo
Loosely translated, "of benefit," we chose our name, Benevon, to represent the benefit, beneficence, and benevolence of the nonprofit organizations we serve and their work in the world.
The Benevon logo is based on the 1970 and 1971 Indian 10 Rupee and 20 Paise coins, minted to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The image and its elements (the sun, lotus flower, and grain) reflect the organic, abundance-based philosophy of the Benevon Model.
"As a person who has frequently been on the receiving end of requests that clearly had a guilt-driven, quick-kill feel to them, I left this seminar convinced that Benevon's emphasis on relationship building, and what I would call the 'individualization of the donor' in order to establish a long-term donor relationship with an institution whose mission the donor has bought into, is the correct and most productive way to go.”
Michael Albritton, Board Member
Baton Rouge General Foundation
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
"As a national organization, Benevon had helped us break through the fog of how to make our mission matter to people on the ground. A huge thank you!"
Michael Bach, Managing Director
Canadian Association for Community Living
"As an owner of a franchise, I value a proven model. Benevon can bring success to the organizations that have total buy-in and a commitment to the work needed for execution."
Caroline Moore, Board Vice President