To my good friends:
In many ways, you are at the forefront of experimental innovation in growing philanthropy and fundraising.
As the founder of Hartsook Companies, Inc.—the largest fundraising consultancy in the world at the time of my retirement—I have seen, first hand, how success is driven and maintained. The company started in the late 80s, but it was a campaign I conducted in my early 30s that laid a foundation for success.
Wichita State University’s Commitment to Excellence was the first $100-million campaign in Kansas to raise that level of funding for an institution of higher education. In five years, we added 34 new buildings; established the National Aviation Center and research program; the Elliott School of Communications; the Woodman Alumni Center; the W. Frank Barton School Business; and added 18 new Ph.D. faculty members.
But long before that, my time as Vice of President of a community college; VP at Washburn University; and as one of three governor-appointed Education Commissioners for the state of Kansas afforded me the experience needed to launch the successful campaign at WSU.
One thing leads to another, so it’s very important to have the right input and opportunities along the way. I suspect many of you have thoughts about the destiny of your own impact on philanthropy.
Because Hartsook has had the distinction of raising more money for its clients during difficult times, I want to share three things which, I hope, will inspire you to manage this unusual season we are in with a sense of optimism.
1. When everyone is moving one way, opportunity frequently lies in the opposite direction.
2. There is no “everybody.” Each donor is unique.
3. Ask yourself, “Why, when so many businesses’ profits are soaring—selling discretionary products—is philanthropy essentially stalled, with only incremental growth?”
Today, my foundation, Hartsook Institutes, is advancing the same message: “Don’t follow the crowd. Take the lead.” Hartsook Institutes was the first independent group to promote a master’s in fundraising; advance applied research; and initiate an international Ph.D. program.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but you can be absolutely sure of this: I remain optimistic.