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  • 1.  Brick campaigns and donor conversion

    Posted 08-14-2015 02:10 PM

    Hello, this is my first post to this forum.  I am a relatively new member of the Development team here, and we have an upcoming brick campaign for a new museum location. We had a similar effort several years back, and from what I've gathered, there are a few areas of the process that didn't go as smoothly as desired.  So, I'm wondering if any of my fellow development people on here have any words of advice?

    • We have considered selling both bricks and cannonballs, but now the opinion is in favor of just bricks, possibly of two sizes.
    • Question: anyone with experience in this area, have the funds for bricks also counted toward a donor's Annual Fund renewal donation or were they "stand-alone" donations, purely for bricks?
    • Was there a special method you used to convert new donors who contributed for bricks into continuing Annual Fund donors?
    • Did you do a special solicitation to all donors to announce the ability to get bricks?
    • Did you have a specific time frame for beginning and ending contributions toward bricks? Scenario: a donor sends in an amount equal or more than, qualifying them for a brick, but that wasn't the intent of the gift, it was just a renewal.  Do you offer them a brick? Or a second brick, if its within the time frame?

    This seems to be the type of project where things can pop up that you didn't know to consider in the beginning,  Any words of wisdom are appreciated.

    Thank you!

    Lauren Jenkins
    Annual Giving Associate
    Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
    Williamsburg, VA

  • 2.  RE: Brick campaigns and donor conversion

    Posted 08-15-2015 05:15 PM

    Hello, Lauren.

    I am currently working an internship, and one of my team members handles all the brick orders for our Main Street program. It is an on-going,  long-term fund raiser, and they offer two types (sizes) of bricks for two different locations. I will talk with her and see how she responds to your questions. I will get back with you next week.

    Several organizations in my hometown have run very successful brick programs. I think this is a viable and lasting tribute to donors and their families and provides a legacy throughout the community.

    Betsy Deiterman
    Masters Candidate
    Museum of Texas Tech University
    Lubbock TX

  • 3.  RE: Brick campaigns and donor conversion

    Posted 08-17-2015 05:16 PM

    Are these donations directed toward the construction of the new building? Since this is your second offering, did the previous funds go toward the new location? If that case, they are separate donations from Annual Giving Gifts, to my mind, and I would think that you would want to account for those gifts separate from your general Annual Campaign. 

    I was a Capital Campaign Assistant at my previous job in California, and part of that campaign was purchases of bricks and plaques ($350 and $1000). During that campaign, the donors knew that they were giving to the building fund rather than making a general donation. Funds from these donations were part of the Capital Campaign. (And there were people who donated for multiple bricks and plaques.)

    When the campaign ended, we determined that the brick program had to end (we had only so much room and the bricks, once placed in the patio, could not be added to). However, the plaque program had more space and could continue.  The museum can offer a plaque to a first time donor at the $1000 level (usually one-time donation), but they are not required to participate, and these donations become part of the Annual Fund. We tried to keep track in our donor software of such offers, so we knew how the donors felt in regards to this program. (I've been gone a while, so I hope they're still keeping track.) We also advertised in our newsletter that such plaques were still available.

    And I would absolutely have a special 'opportunity' for all donors to participate in the program. Hope this helps.

    Mary Oswell
    Broomfield CO

  • 4.  RE: Brick campaigns and donor conversion

    Posted 08-19-2015 08:55 AM

    Thanks for the feedback so far.  To answer a few of the questions as best I can:

    • Are these donations directed toward the construction of the new building? -- No, the funds raised will not be restricted to the new building.
    • Since this is your second offering, did the previous funds go toward the new location? -- No, I don't believe so.

    Again, from what I gather, there were a few situations where a donor bought a brick, but then assumed that their Annual Fund level was renewed for the year with that gift.  Of course, we would like the brick donation to be a separate one from their Annual Fund renewal gift(s) even if the funds are not designated.  Also, there are some donors who give small amounts scattered throughout the year, and their cumulative gifts may equal the amount for a brick, so do you make exceptions in the vent that they ask? What about the donor who give the amount for a brick more than once -- do you offer a second brick? As with many situations, there will be exceptions and we'll just have to handle them as they come up.

    I was hoping someone might say, "Why yes, we have considered all of these little situations you mention during our own brick campaign and we wrote a manual on how we handled each of them! Let me share it with you!" ;)

    Thanks again,

    Lauren Jenkins
    Annual Giving Associate
    Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
    Williamsburg VA

  • 5.  RE: Brick campaigns and donor conversion

    Posted 08-20-2015 11:50 AM

    Dear Lauren,

    There is a better person on our staff to answer your questions than I am, but she is very busy right now.  Here are some helpful events from my perspective.

    We did a brick/stones campaign several years ago to build a new courtyard, thinking it would be very easy to sell A LOT of $25 bricks and $100 to $750 stones to raise a LOT of money.  We also had some high dollar donor recognition elements.  We learned that we did not have enough high dollar recognition elements, and that the smaller dollar donations came in much more slowly.  One of our trustees hit upon the idea to ask local ranchers to purchase stones at $1,000 each to install their brands in the courtyard, and he contacted them and made it a big success.  We raised the money we needed to complete the project.  Twenty-five years later, we are still selling bricks, mostly as memorials/gifts.  All of the proceeds go into our Plant Fund, to be used for capital improvement needs.  Each brick is limited to ONE name; stones can have more than one.

    Fast forward to a later campaign where we learned to "stop selling pieces of the museum"--per our fundraising consultant's advice.  He taught us that fundraising should not be a transaction, but a connection/commitment to the cause of the museum--so that is how we constructed the campaign, which was wildly successful.  All donors above a certain level are recognized on a donor panel that is prominently displayed.  They gave because they wanted to accomplish the purpose of the campaign (expansion and endowment).

    You should plan to make a distinction between annual giving and the purchase of bricks if you go this route.  Ask people to purchase bricks IN ADDITION to annual giving, not in lieu of.  I would NOT recommend brick sales for general fundraising; it should be for a specific purpose.  Once the project is completed, if you continue to sell bricks, those dollars can go to a particular purpose, or to your general fund.  Just know what your plan is ahead of time, and share that with prospective donors.

    You also asked about conversion of brick purchasers to donors; our experience has been that most of the people who purchase bricks are supporters of the museum--their purchase comes out of the relationship the individual has with the museum.  Therefore, donor cultivation(existing and prospective) is an important part of any fundraising effort. 

    And the most important thing?  Someone needs to make the ask, personally.  I think it is rare to have a strong response to a mailed effort.  Peer to peer asking makes a huge difference.  This is where board members are critically important.

    I hope this helps.  We will be happy to answer any questions you might want to ask about our experience.  Sadly, we have not yet crafted a manual--but we should!

    Marsha (Shan) Rankin
    Executive Director
    Museum of South Texas History
    Edinburg TX