Baton Rouge, Louisiana—Beth Veazey, vice president and chief development officer of the Baton Rouge General Foundation, reviewed the budget and goals after the hospital had completed a capital campaign. That was when she realized that the foundation's only source of fundraising without the campaign would be coming from special events.
Baton Rouge General Foundation helps to provide Baton Rouge General, a community hospital that serves patients from birth to geriatrics, with upwards of $21 million a year in charity care, facility enhancements, and the latest technology.
Veazey thought that Benevon could help the foundation to move away from special event-oriented fundraising and grow an annual giving program, which the foundation lacked, and encourage board involvement.
Veazey assembled a team, and they attended Benevon 101. At the training session, their coach immediately began helping the foundation learn how to strategize more effectively about everything they did, from creating their Point of Entry Event, to engaging and cultivating potential donors.
That strategic thought is evident in the Point of Entry tour, "Behind the Scenes at the Baton Rouge General."
At the start of the tour, the foundation team invites visitors to introduce themselves and state their connection, if any, to the hospital. Doing so allows the team to better connect to tour guests by learning what they are passionate about, and what areas of the hospital they may be interested in supporting.
Veazey's team also worked to strategize the most impactful ways to present the various areas of the hospital. One stop on the Point of Entry tour is the neo-natal unit. Here, visitors get to see the technology which simulates the womb for babies born prematurely.
One such baby, whose picture is shown, was so small at her birth that her father's ring fit around her upper arm. Because of the equipment, that baby developed into a healthy toddler with round, chubby cheeks, which tour guests also see a picture of.
The strategic method of interacting with donors on the Point of Entry tour has helped attract the attention of large donors. One such donor wished to make a corporate gift, in addition to his personal gift of $25,000, by hosting a golf tournament.
Knowing that a golf tournament would not produce a large amount of money, but not wanting to appear ungrateful to the generous businessman, Veazey and her team once again strategized with coaches about how best to handle the situation.
"I met with him and shared the Benevon approach with him," Veazey recalls. "Then I said, 'You know how you could really help is to make a challenge gift at the next Ask Event.' Now he's going to make a $50,000 challenge gift at the next luncheon, in addition to his $25,000 personal gift."
Veazey says that her team came together around how to handle the situation, adding that Benevon encourages that kind of active participation.
She made it a point to invite the incoming board chair to their next Benevon workshop in order to introduce him to the model. Veazey remembers watching as a light bulb went off for him at that training session.
"I asked him to speak on the model at our next board meeting," she says. "He got up and said, 'I'm really uncomfortable with fundraising, but I will tell you I love this model because it really comes along naturally, and sometimes we don't even have to make the ask.' I didn't even have to script him because he felt it for himself at the training."
In addition to the incoming board chair, both the CEO and the chief financial officer of the hospital are actively participating in cultivation efforts.
Without cultivation, Veazey knows that the foundation would have lost many of the 365 donors who helped the foundation raise $5.5 million in the capital campaign the foundation completed just two years before coming to Benevon.
"I wanted to get to know those donors. I didn't want them to leave the realm of the Baton Rouge General, because another capital campaign might not come around for another ten years," Veazey says. "If we just let them go, and said thank you very much for that gift, but we don't have an annual giving program, we could lose touch. Because of the cultivation we have been able to reconnect with those donors, and those have generally been the people to quickly start the Multiple-Year Giving Society because it was kind of natural for them."
Baton Rouge General Foundation now has seventy-three people in its Multiple-Year Giving Society. In its two years working with Benevon, the Foundation has raised almost $700,000.
The foundation's goal is to increase the number of people within the annual giving society to 300 within the next five years. The team plans to achieve that goal by keeping donors involved and learning what they are passionate about by asking them to share their own stories of how the hospital has had an impact in their lives, or in the lives of loved ones.
"I'm glad I could bring Benevon here because it's a style I'm comfortable with," Veazey says. "The whole model makes fundraising feel good by making stories come to the surface. That's one reason that I do this—I also get motivated by stories, and this model brings that about and keeps you energized."
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