Wesley Enhanced Living's Dawn George on Innovative Capital Campaigns
Puzzled over how to piece together a building fund? Dawn George, vice president of fund development for Wesley Enhanced Living Foundation of Southampton, Penn., provides background on how she's using magnetized jigsaw bits to solve her fundraising problem for one of the retirement communities the foundation supports.
The game pieces eventually will provide a full, colorful picture of why potential donors should support a $900,000 portion of the $3.1 million public fundraising leg of the $23 million Evangelical Manor Capital Campaign. Eventually, that is, because the 30 puzzle pieces are being sent in 12 installments during the next 12 to 20 months.
Each direct mailing is slated to include a letter detailing construction progress, a donation envelope and the latest game pieces.
Target Marketing: Who is the target audience for this fundraising campaign and why?
Dawn George: The target audience for the fundraising campaign is really a set of constituencies. So they would be the residents who live at the manor, their families or, we also call that grateful families, and ... employees of Evangelical Manor and the surrounding businesses and community stakeholders. And then also, of course, the Wesley Enhanced Living board members and the executives in our organization, as well as existing donors.
TM: Why would this audience respond to piecemeal puzzle mailings?
DG: First of all, in this economic climate, appealing to people's charitable priorities is even more of a challenge. ... We are in the public phase of this capital campaign which, by the way, is the first ever capital campaign for the organization. So in the public phase, it's really the grassroots phase. That's really where you put your tentacles out to the broader community ... The thing that I feel most strongly about right now—and I've been doing this for 25 years, doing meetings, fundraising and marketing—is that we need to be creative. And the challenge for us to be creative is that this needs to capture people's attention, it needs to communicate an urgent need in a way that people can both understand and embrace and it's not too complicated. ... The mechanics of the concept, then, are: Smaller doses are better, they're more concise messages. Also, because the campaign is centered around a construction project, we wanted to be able to communicate clearly and concisely the progress of the construction. So by doing it in puzzle pieces, people are now able to see the way that the puzzle is designed. When a certain component of the construction project is completed, for example the dining room, they'll get the pieces of the dining room that'll show its completion. So it follows the timeline of the construction project, which is why it's 12 to 20 months long. So that's why we use a drip marketing approach to it.