Watch the Interview
Nonprofit Fundraising in our COVID-19 World with Martin Leifeld
Martin Leifeld, author, coach, consultant and public speaker, directed the raising of over $500 million dollars during his 24 years of fundraising leadership in the St. Louis region. Martin authored the book, FIVE MINUTES FOR FUNDRAISING – A Collection of Expert Advice from Gifted Fundraisers. MartinLeifeld.com provides nearly 125 video presentations about leadership and fundraising matters.
Martin served as vice chancellor for university advancement at UMSL for 10 years. He led a dramatic increase in fundraising, averaging $26.4 million per year. University Advancement had 140 employees and a $16 million budget focusing upon alumni engagement, community relations, fundraising, marketing and communication, university events, and St. Louis Public Radio.
Previously, Martin was associate vice president for university development at Saint Louis University and director of development for the Diocese of Belleville, Ill.
Martin was named the 2018 Outstanding Fundraising Executive by the AFP St. Louis Regional Chapter. Martin was selected as the 2020 Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award from St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU).
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Greetings. This is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Every week, we have a guest who has knowledge and wisdom, and experience in a topic. They have been there and done it, and they have some things to share with you. You’re sitting in the seat as clergy, nonprofit leader, or board chair. Maybe you’re a business person thinking about launching a nonprofit. This series is here to help you think out of the box, think of some new paradigms, and learn from some people who are experienced.
Today, my guest is from St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author of this book, Five Minutes for Fundraising: A Collection of Expert Advice from Gifted Fundraisers. Martin Leifeld, welcome. Would you tell people a little bit about yourself, and why is it that you do what you do?
Martin Leifeld: First of all, it’s an honor to be on your program today, and I appreciate your audience. I hope I can be helpful.
I’ve been in various leadership roles for around 45 years. 25 years of those were in small and larger universities. 25 years, although they didn’t overlap exactly with the universities, I have been involved in fundraising. About two years ago, I retired after 10 years as vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, which is our local urban land grant university here in St. Louis. I had a wonderful run there.
Long story short, here in the St. Louis region, which is where I spent my 25 years of fundraising, over $500 million raised, that’s a lot of money for St. Louis. It’s not about the dollars raised; it’s about the involvement, the lives changed, and the impact because of the dollars raised. Two years ago, I retired. It wasn’t my timing, to be honest with you. I had health issues. My handle on the last couple years has been author, coach, consultant, and speaker. A little bit of everything. I think you know what I mean. I have a website, MartinLeifeld.com. There are over 120 videos there on fundraising and leadership. You were kind enough to point out the book. I have been doing podcasts, a couple dozen of them, and regular postings, particularly on LinkedIn.
I am trying to give back. This is all about trying to give back to a profession that has been such a blessing for me, so good for me in so many respects. Certainly developed professional skills. I have grown as a person by doing this extraordinary work of fundraising.
Hugh: We have in the audience two fundraisers who are CFRE. They’re here because they heard about you. We’ll let them ask questions later.
Martin: I’m beginning to sweat, Hugh.
Hugh: They’re very nice people.
Martin: I hope so.
Hugh: I had a funding professional last month. He said he reads a fundraising book a week. My area is transformational leadership and the conductor. The best leaders I worked with in corporate or nonprofits are the people who are always working on themselves. The famous speaker Jim Rohn always said, “Work on yourself harder than you work on your business.” I wrote that down and have been working on it ever since. 73, and still working.
Martin: I’m impressed by somebody who would read a book weekly. There is a chapter in the book called, “The Three C’s of Fundraising.” The first is competence. If you want to be involved in fundraising, being somebody of impact who makes a difference, you have to develop competency. There are two ways to do that.
One is lifelong learning. You are a student of the game, of the practice. That can include certifications and the like. You mentioned CFRE, which makes me nervous. You go to webinars like this, podcasts, so on and so forth, to remain educated and current in the field. But book-learning alone doesn’t make you an impactful person in the work of philanthropy. You have to add to that experience. In any profession, if you’re working diligently and are learning, being humble as you work your way through successes and failures, you should acquire the kind of experience that makes that study you do come to life and be most virtuous. That’s just competence.
You have to have confidence. Confidence is not bravado. It’s not fake it until you make it. Real confidence grows alongside that development of competence.
But to get to your point, the third C is character. What donors want is someone who is competent. They want to recognize a competent professional who is doing their work with excellence and to have that quiet confidence that comes over the course of time. But what they are really looking for is people with outstanding character, people who are virtuous and trustworthy, people who you might say they know they can do business with. They can shake hands and make something happen.
If you don’t have all three operating, I don’t think you can be a master in any profession.
Hugh: Absolutely. I have earmarked a few things. I want to talk to you about the correlation between leadership and fundraising. Did you just sit down and say, “I want to write a book?” What was the inspiration, and how did you connect with the people in there, who are all experienced fundraising professionals?
Martin: You might find this story curious. Since I turned 30, every consecutive decade since, on the 9th, the 29th, the 39th, etc., I would use that year very deliberately to reflect on my life up to that point, trying to look at success and failure, places for improvement. To look at the next 10 years and try to project what I can do to have impact. I should say every decade, I got more intense about this, too.
Six years ago, when I was 59, I was really working through that year. I decided in that spring to take 100 days and really drill down about the future. Every day on my journal, Day 1/100, Day 15/100, I began my journal. Journaling is part of my morning ritual. Seeking ahead, you might say. Believe it or not, around day 72/73/75, I have what I call a small i, inspiration. The inspiration, as I referred, was to give back to the profession. I wanted to start there.
I thought, Well, I had done so much mentoring and coaching and fundraising with staff and volunteers. I was very good at doing something briefly. Somebody asked a question, as you can tell, I can go on for five minutes. Five minutes, I can give a good answer that would be appreciated. Maybe I could do some brief videos. Then I thought, Well, not everyone wants to watch a video, let alone look at me for a few minutes. People prefer to read. Let me do both.
So the genesis of the book logistically was transcribing my first year and a half of videos on these very subjects. Hugh, you may know this, and your audience may also. Seven minutes of video, especially the speed at which I talk, only translates to a few pages. I got into this and thought, I am not going to have a book. The other part of this was I never tried to give a comprehensive answer about something. It was more stuff I noodled about, experimented with, discovered that I thought was helpful.
That is what prompted me to go out and recruit 26 others to join me as collaborators in this. It was a fun experience because maybe 60% of them I knew, some very well, but the others I went out and recruited based on word of mouth and reference. I had to establish a relationship with them, like a donor, and ask them for their assistance. I found overwhelming willingness to be supportive.
Hugh: Wow. 26 of them here, all by name. Each chapter says, “Collaboration.” Speak a little bit about how collaboration works for you, and how it manifested itself in the book. It’s interesting how you have each section with dots and italics to stand apart, where there is a dialogue.
Martin: What I was trying to do was say something about the particular subjects, insight and angle. I had come to realize through experience and effort and training. Then I wanted to enrich it. I tried to find people. I called them collaborators. In other words, I wanted to start with what I had to say about a particular subject and ask them to add to it. Nobody really directly contradicted me as a collaborator. But they collaborated in the sense that they took the content seriously and enhanced it with their own reflections. Many of them added stories that put the flesh on the bones of the point of the chapter. It was interesting. If I had asked people to write it, they wouldn’t have written it because they were too busy. I had somebody help me interview them. We came to it in different ways based on the needs and availability and interest of my collaborators. I tried to collaborate logistically and practically in order to have them help, but they were generous about their time.
The thing about this word “collaboration” is the goal is a joint thing we do together. The goal is to bring the best of more than one person to bear in order to, as you talk about with synergy with your organization, to get that synergistic gain, to get that exponential gain that you can’t get with just yourself necessarily. Even if you have the authority with CFRE.
Hugh: People introduce me sometimes as Hugh Ballou, an expert in leadership. I say, “I’m Hugh Ballou, a serious student of leadership.”
Martin: Hear, hear.
Hugh: The title of this episode is, “Fundraising in COVID-19.” And the post-COVID-19 world. There are some consistent things and some new thoughts. That chapter with leadership, the Three C’s, your collaborator said, “ABC: Authenticity, belief, and confidence.” You and I were talking before about how fundraising is terrifying for a lot of us. I don’t want to go. It’s like when I was a teenager calling a girl for a date. I didn’t want to get turned down, so I stood by the phone and sweat. Is that like people wanting to make a money call? What is it about trying to raise money that is so fearful?
Martin: I don’t know. It’s all about fear. It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s the fear of being rejected. The fear of fumbling your way through it. The fear of someone being rude to you. If you will be embarrassed in front of them or embarrass them. It’s something new. I haven’t done it before. For those in religious work, it’s unseemly. I shouldn’t have to do that kind of thing as a pastor. Leave that to someone else to do. There is a lot of things.
When I first got into major gift fundraising, in the St. Louis area, I would criss-cross southern Illinois, a larger rural area, sometimes driving an hour or an hour and a half to see someone. Talk about sweating bullets. I would rehearse half the trip, “Hugh, would you and Mary consider a gift for the education of poor elementary kids, a gift of $10,000? You could even pay that over three years.” I would say that over and over again because I couldn’t trust myself. When I first began to do it, and I fumbled, it was a long drive back, knowing I hadn’t done what I set out to do. I began to rehearse very seriously. Once I got in the home or the office, who knows what might happen? It might be something I couldn’t predict. All I had to do was say, “Hugh and Mary,” and out would come the rest because I had rehearsed it. For those of you being called upon to raise money, practice makes perfect. You can do it.
But let me shift into something more serious. Fundraising is a privilege. Fundraising is the most honorable of work. Fundraising is a spiritual work. Fundraising is actually a vocation. I came to this once I was talking to a very wise woman about fundraising and the struggles. She said, ‘Martin, you’re in a helping profession.” A helping profession? I had never thought of it that way. I thought, Especially now, physicians, nurses, first responders, educators, oh my gosh, the young families. Two of my kids are educating kids at home. They have a manifold of appreciation of what it takes to be an educator now that they are trying to do that in their living rooms and around the kitchen table.
But I hadn’t thought of my profession of being something that was actually about helping. That’s what it is. What we do as fundraisers are facilitators in effect. I like to refer to myself as a facilitator of philanthropy. What we do is on behalf of worthy causes. In effect, what we want to do is come alongside, almost put our arm around someone’s shoulder, and say, “Look, there is an opportunity that makes sense to you as I have gotten to know you, and through which you can demonstrate great impact on this world. Here is the idea. Would you consider it?” That kind of work is very powerful and honorable work.
I have had the privilege, as many of your audience have had, of interacting with some people of extraordinary success, Fortune 25 executives. I have had some of those people say to me, “Martin, I could never do that job. That is too hard a job.” Some of them knew it first-hand because they were chairmen of nonprofits or board members. They were called upon to go out and do it. They knew first-hand what I was doing full-time. They respected it. We underestimate the value, the contribution we are making in this work.
Hugh: Wow. That’s a paradigm shift. Somewhere, and it may be in this chapter, “Five Generous Fundraisers,” before we talk more about donors, let’s consider you as the fundraiser. Somewhere, you talk about the impact it has on donors to actually donate. There is a point of philanthropy that releases something in you to make that donation, to see something happen. Talk about that. That is an inspiration that we don’t think about, the impact that it has on the donor.
Martin: First of all, it’s all about the donor. What we tend to do is focus on ourselves. In one sense, we should because we want to be professional and effective and do the job with excellence. We also want to represent our organizations with integrity, as effectively as we can. It’s all about the donor. What we’re into is a business of building lifelong relationships, not just after a transaction. We want to build and support the relationship that the donor has with the organization for their lifetime hopefully. In that relationship-building process, there are opportunities for financial exchange. What this is about is not a transaction although writing a check or giving away stock or a document with a commitment is part of it. But what it’s really about is helping people to influence the world for the better, and to demonstrate their values and what matters most to them.
In that process of a donor taking their eyes off of themselves and looking outward, looking at, “Okay, I have been fortunate enough to have accrued these assets,” rather than being preoccupied with how I could take care of myself, I am going to give it to others or to the world to improve it. As they do that, they become greater people. Biochemically, by the way, we change. Enzymes are released. One person called it the family bonding enzyme. I used to notice that somebody would make a big gift to one of my organizations and suddenly they would be everywhere. They would be at every event, bringing friends and colleagues, talking about the organization with great enthusiasm. What’s this all about? By their making a serious commitment, a gift of greater significance, there was something that happened within their entire being. A wise man, as you know, once said, “It’s better to give than to receive.” There is something we receive as an internal, spiritual, reward by giving of ourselves generously. One of the ways we give ourselves generously, certainly in this contemporary age, is with financial resources in addition to our time and talents.
Hugh: That’s so good. The other thing I earmarked is you wrote this chapter about the donor development cycle. There is a transaction, and there are those who never ask for the sale. I have been there many times. One higher net worth person asked me, “You didn’t ask for the sale.” It was my first conversation to get acquainted. But he was a businessman, “What do you want?” Another one, I am packing up to leave after I told him about what I was doing. He said, “Don’t you want a check?” Then he wrote me a check and handed one to me a lot bigger than I thought. That was about relationship.
But this cycle, you go through steps, identification, qualification, and more. Talk about the process. There is a transaction, but there is a lot more to this process.
Martin: The bottom line is this is about a relationship. In the course of a relationship, you go through seasons. In this particular cycle that we use in our fundraising business, you identify. Then qualify, which means are these people of capacity? Are these people who have an interest or potential interest in what we represent?
Then we cultivate, which is about building relationship and involving them in the organization. That can include charitable giving, but not a gift of greater significance. As we get to know them, we are able to think about, Okay, given what they are interested in, how does that align with what we are about as an organization? What dimensions of our organization would be something that would make sense to them, that they would desire to support?
Then we have the conversation about asking. Some people are proponents of never asking for money. They just listen their way to a gift. I have always believed to have conversations about money, about scale, about impact, about size. That might be, with this amount, you can do this and that. Provide some options. But I always want to be working with numbers. People want to know what we would like them to do. My experience has been perhaps more often the opposite of yours. If I don’t ask, I get something smaller than what I had hoped for. I have always been one to say, “Let’s talk about money.” It’s a part of life. It’s how we carry on in this world. Most people want to get to the bottom line, “How much do you want?” They can say yes, no, maybe so. They want to make that happen, but they can’t make that happen now, or they will have to think more creatively about it. They can’t write a check.
I have always taught our people the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time. COVID-19 has brought us to a hard stop here in some respects, but when you think about the frenetic pace of life that has only gotten faster and faster during our adult years, it has reached the point of sheer lunacy. Was anyone listening to anybody? One of the reasons we are such a divided nation is we completely lost the ability to listen, and listen with respect. What I found in fundraising, and I think many professionals in other fields would say the same thing, if you want success in your life, in your business, in your endeavors, you listen. It wouldn’t be that I would listen 100% of the time. But what I found is people desperately wanted to be heard. They wanted to be listened to attentively, appreciatively, and respectfully. Honestly, when I think about to what extent I was a great fundraiser in my career, it’s because of the power of listening. I have to ask for money, too. But listening puts us in that best position to understand.
What I would do is retain, record, and retrieve. Three R’s. Retain. Somebody had something to say during the course of the conversation. I was listening closely and thinking, That’s important.
Record. I would get in the car, call my assistant, and tell them, “Start taking notes.” Or I’d get back to the office and start typing at my computer. I would record all the various things I thought would be insightful and helpful, not just for me, but for anyone in my organization who would have reason to engage with those people.
This is all about preparation. When I would prepare for my next visit, I would retrieve. The thing is in work like this, we are in front of different wonderful people each day. If a month has passed, there is no guarantee I would remember what someone said was important to them a month ago. One way I would respect them is I would retain, record, and retrieve, so that when I would return to them, I could say, “Hugh, so how’s Mary Alice doing? You were talking about her facing that surgery.” Or, “Hugh, how’s that billy goat dog of yours doing? You were worried about this.” Or, “Hugh, you said you were going to be marrying off your son Charlie. How’d it go?” People know I am representing the organization, but they love the fact that I listened to them as people. I cared about them as people. Do you think when it came to talking about a gift eventually, that put me in a better position to be taken seriously? Without question.
It seems like, Geez, this is common sense, isn’t it? We have lost a lot of common sense.
Hugh: The problem with common sense is it’s not very common.
*Sponsored by EZCard*
Let’s pivot. You talked about some brilliant reframing of some old scripts we tell ourselves that minimize ourselves. I am guilty as anybody else, maybe more. That’s not my job. I teach leadership.
We have been in an era of lockdown. We are going back to work in Virginia. Churches are sort of meeting with very limited engagement. No children. No singing. There is a new paradigm of how the exercise classes are in the parking lot with rain all week. People are getting paychecks from unemployment. What if that money runs out? Then what? We are facing some new challenges. How does that impact fundraising going forward?
Martin: If you look back to the great recession, some sectors did better than other sectors in terms of fundraising. In the great recession, I had just come to the University of Missouri to take a campaign that was already underway public. I was there a month, and the economic sky fell. The world was thrown in the craziness. It doesn’t exactly line up with our situation today, but there are some similarities certainly. Long story short, we decided to go ahead with our campaign. In my first year there, we raised 54% more than any other year in the history of that institution. When I hear someone say, “Boy, we can’t ask for money now. People don’t have it,” I immediately say, “That’s not necessarily true.”
One thing I would say is this: If somebody is philanthropic, and they have less money, are they less philanthropic? I don’t think so. Philanthropy is a part of a value system. Let me ask you this about your organization you represent. Has its value proposition changed because of this pandemic? No, it hasn’t. Now, if you are a food bank, there might be more urgency, immediacy. Crises bring out people’s desire to try to do something for others, whether it’s by cutting a check or by cheering on the streets for the first responders and nurses. People want to be supportive. One way they are supportive is certainly with their philanthropic support.
Hugh: Love it. Would you like to have some questions from our audience?
Martin: As long as they’re all soft balls.
Hugh: No guarantees. There’s Jeffrey Fulgham from Richmond, Virginia. He is a CFRE and has done many good things. Used to be in Lynchburg, but moved just a couple hours away. Do you have a particular observation or question for our guest today?
Jeffrey Fulgham: I don’t really have a question, but I love what I’m hearing, Martin. The first thing when I came on (I missed the very beginning) is the part you were talking about studying, and that’s only part of the equation. You can glean all this information, but if you started moving through your presentation, you were talking about relationships, which has always been the meat of this business. It’s never more important than it is right now of letting folks know we care about them, and you hit that nail right on the head. That’s what I have been preaching to my clients and associates: how important it is to stay connected to people and let them know that this relationship is a personal relationship before a financial relationship.
I really liked what you said about character because I think that’s the core of what we’re doing. It’s the core of leadership. If you don’t have the character, you probably shouldn’t be a fundraiser or in leadership either.
The other thing that you mentioned about evaluating, that was so good. I didn’t start doing it early enough. I wish I had done it the way you did it. The last five years, I have taken the month of December, or January because we are so darn busy in December that we don’t have the time. I did a post-mortem on the year and on my life. How could I be better? This is great stuff. I’m glad I connected today.
Martin: Jeffrey, pleased to meet you, and thanks for your great comments. I’m glad I’m in the ballpark with mine. One of the things, in fact, I just did a podcast on this, writing a chapter on someone’s book on morning rituals. Every morning, as part of my morning ritual, I have one page in my personal/professional planner (I call it that), and I review what matters most about my life. That is a way for me to get locked and loaded for the day, in order to go forth and have the greatest impact possible, as a professional, but as a person. What am I all about as a person? Being able to define that, have it clarified, reviewing it every day has been amazingly powerful.
One other thing I would say around the word “authenticity” is people want to be authentic, and they want authentic people in front of them. We don’t have to be perfect in our work, but we want to be respectful, thoughtful, and do it the best way we can. Fundraisers come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities, and they understand that. But they don’t want a fake, a snake salesman. They want a human being that they can respect and look up to. That’s what they want from us.
Jeffrey: I definitely agree with that. That authenticity and character and genuineness, people would ask me about having these relationships with people. I said, “You have to be in a genuine relationship. You can’t have a relationship where you want someone to think that it’s about the fact that you like them and want to be in a relationship, but it’s really about the money, so you are clocking it so that it looks genuine. It might work for a little while, but it won’t work for you forever. If you really want to have successful fundraising, it’s about long-term relationships with people.” I’m fortunate that I am connected to people who I am three or four organizations removed from now. I still have relationships with them, and I still talk to them, especially right now with everything going on. Staying in touch. That’s the fun part of this business. It’s the most fun.
Martin: The relationships is the most gratifying part of the deal. It’s not about the dollars raised although that’s great, too, because it can accomplish great things. In our business, we get to meet the most wonderful people. Phenomenal people. When I think about my own personal and professional development, a lot of it was profoundly stimulated by the people I have gotten to spend time within this work of fundraising.
Hugh: And I have gotten to spend time with Jeffrey and Bob Hopkins. Bob, you’ve been quietly listening. Do you have a question or comment for our guest today?
Bob Hopkins: I’m in my backyard outside. Didn’t know I had any airwaves back here. Beautiful day in Dallas by the way. I am loving listening to you. After 40 years of doing this kind of thing, you think you know it all. While I might say I do, it’s so much fun to remember some of the key aspects of the fundraising process. When you first started talking, I thought, Why doesn’t he talk about listening? Sure enough, 15 minutes later, you talked about listening. I am so grateful for that conversation. I teach speech, and I’m teaching people how to talk. But there is a chapter in my book called “Listening.” I spend about five minutes on listening because I don’t think people need to know anything about it, and I am so wrong. As you said, the 80/20 thing is so true. I have so many great stories of when I didn’t listen, and you know what? I didn’t get the gift. Or when I listened and waited and patiently took my time about receiving, that I got about six times more money than I would have gotten had I asked earlier when the person wasn’t ready.
Martin: It’s such a great comment. Pleased to meet you. We talk about this in a lot of fields, the blending of the art and the science. As I said, developing competency is about education and experience. Maybe that’s the better way. This is a work you learn on the job; it’s on the job training. As we stick with it, it saddens me when I think about the turnover in the profession. If something is willing to stick with it and keep at it, as you all know, the satisfaction is phenomenal to be in this work. To become competent at it over time is immensely gratifying. Beautiful horse by the way, Bob.
Hugh: That’s not his current one. He has one he is really proud of. That’s his passion. One day, I was having lunch with him in Dallas, and he went off on this horse thing when I asked him about his passion.
The principle is 80/20. 80% of your results are produced by 20% of your people. 80% of your inventory only produces 20% of your profits, but 20% produces 80% of your profits. It goes with donors; it’s a repeated principle. When I wrote my first book, Moving Spirits, Building Lives, it’s about church musicians and transformational leaders. That is when I moved into leadership. It took me 40 years to write this and 30 days to put it on paper, when I was leaving the profession. I determined in that book the Ballou 10/90 principle. As a music director, 10% of my job was music; 90% made that possible. I am thinking as far as a professional fundraiser, the 10% is what people see, but 90% is under the iceberg. 90% is relationship, staying in touch, that allows that 10% to happen. There is a lot that happens that is invisible to most people, but that is where the hard lifting is.
Let’s hit really hard on this. We still have money in the economy. The fed printed more digital currency. Money didn’t go away. Some people are struggling to make ends meet, but some companies are doing really well. Google had a record-breaking quarter. Grocery stores are slammed. There are some ministries that are challenged. Some restaurants are out of business. There is still money out there and people who want to make a difference. What is the change of mindset for addressing the new normal here?
Martin: In some ways, the mindset hasn’t changed. In other words, we have an organization worthy of support that is doing important work in this world. We are engaging with people who want to make a difference with their lives and resources to the extent that they can. They may have taken a hit financially, so they may not be able to do something right now. They may have to structure it differently. Back in the great recession, we mentioned we raised 54% more than any other prior year in the institution’s history, that wasn’t people writing a bunch of huge checks. People were writing smaller checks, making pledges over longer periods of time, putting gifts in their estates, and so on. Bundle it all together, and it would be a number that was not insignificant for them, but they couldn’t do it. Even today, a year ago, someone might give you a large number with checks over a couple of years. Now, they still want to give you that number, but it will be put together in a different kind of package.
What we need to do is be sensitive with people. We are all talking the same talk here. We have to put the concern for the people first. There are relationships. If we treat them that way, whether they can make a gift now or later, we are building the relationship for the long term. We are doing our job with the relationship by putting them and their concerns first. We all have stories and connections, a degree or two away from us, of people who have been profoundly impacted by this. We should know it firsthand, and be sensitive as we engage with others.
To raise major gifts, it’s typically a face-to-face, labor-intensive business. Up until very recently, there hasn’t been any face-to-face work. Difficult to have a talk with a donor ten feet apart. Tools like Zoom, even my sister who just turned 80 years old knows how to use Zoom. We can all use Zoom. People welcome Zoom calls or the equivalent. They desire that human interaction. If we get on a call like this, we just have a conversation, and we listen to them, that’s powerful.
Hugh: Whoever thought of this term “social distancing,” it’s physical distancing. We are still social. Anti-social distancing. This book is chock-full of stuff that is not rocket science. It’s solid experience when people have been there and done it. Stuff that most of us don’t know. You have been around and done this for years; you’ve practiced this. I’m a musician. We rehearse. You have rehearsed a lot. What I am so appreciative of is you put it in a book to share with people. Why should people have this book? Where can they get it?
Martin: Why they should get it is it’s a way of staying current in the work. If you are a beginner, it’s an insightful introduction to the work. It’s getting 27 seasoned professionals’ input, not just one’s. I call it Five Minutes for Fundraising because each chapter is about a five-minute read. They are stand-alone chapters. You don’t have to read it in consecutively. You can go to what resonates or what you need right now.
In terms of the book, if you want an autographed one, 15% off, no shipping and handling, go to MartinLeifeld.com and order it there. You can get it on Amazon as well. Like any book, it’s available on multiple channels.
Hugh: It’s not an expensive book.
*Sponsored by EZCard* *Message about a Youth Philanthropy Conference on 6/27*
This has been a very helpful interview. Lots of good sound bites. What do you want to leave people with today? What is a challenge or thought as we go into the unknown?
Martin: Every day we are going into the unknown. That was six months ago, too. It’s new every morning, as it says in the Book of Lamentations, for those of you who look at the Bible. What we’re after is helping people become greater through philanthropy. We’re doing that through putting them first, respecting who they are, helping them to demonstrate their value system to the world. Hopefully, by working with our organization as part of their way of doing so. We are privileged. It’s honorable work. It’s worth people devoting their lives to.
Not to highlight myself, but this is powerful. When I retired two years ago, they had a party for me, which was very nice. A number of the donors were there who I had worked with for years. Unbeknownst to me, they had a video. If you go to my YouTube, it’s there. This couple who were the first alumni in this young university to reach a $5 million-level gift of cumulative giving were on the video. This is what they said, and I think it pulls it together and certainly represents so much my gratitude of the work of philanthropy in my life. They said, “By teaching us about giving, Martin, you have given us a great gift. Our philanthropic involvement with the university has enhanced our lives on many levels. We owe that to you. Martin, because of your professionalism, expertise, and friendship, you made something that is truly enjoyable even more rewarding. You showed us the way to contribute in a meaningful manner, and this resulted in our receiving so much in return.”
Hugh: What a great summary.
Martin: Isn’t that amazing? That’s what it’s about.
Hugh: It is amazing. You have touched people’s lives on both ends of the spectrum. Martin, thank you for sharing your wisdom and time with us today.
Martin: Thank you.