The Short History of a Campaign that’s Succeeding!

Lisa Mahoney
Lisa Mahoney

This is our friend and client Lisa Mahoney, Vice President of FHN Foundation, a healthcare system based in Freeport, Illinois. She reports that her campaign is now nicely ahead of schedule–half-way to goal of $5,000,000. Rather than blow our own horn, we’ll let Lisa tell you about the campaign in her own words. While she’s at it, she shares her fears about accepting the Abbey Group’s recommendation of a five million dollar goal. She also tells of unexpected success in recruiting a solicitor of major gifts who had previously refused to consider soliciting. Read on for the inside information about a campaign that’s succeeding. Lisa writes:

“Our organization, the FHN Foundation, contracted the Abbey Group in October 2003 to conduct a feasibility study and to lead us in a capital campaign for our community healthcare system. Conducting a capital campaign was a new concept for FHN, and we anticipated that we would need a lot of assistance. Interviews were held with four organizations before selecting the Abbey Group. We chose the Abbey Group, not because they gave us the lowest bid, but because they spoke in terms of a personalized vision and campaign strategy for our Foundation.

The Abbey Group Team

“I am happy to report that our relationship with Abbey Group has been professional, compassionate, enjoyable, and, most of all, successful. We currently work directly with Michael McNeely as our campaign counsel; however I have found that their company takes a team approach and all Abbey Group personnel are familiar with our campaign and are eager to assist us.

Personalized Approach

“We are delighted with the campaign structure that the Abbey Group recommends (more on this later). Conducting a campaign this way maps out the strategies and timelines for solicitation that transition seamlessly throughout four phases, while continuing to enhance donor relations. Yet an individual campaign takes on a personality of its own. Rather than fitting our organization into its structure, the Abbey Group stepped into the mission and goals of our organization and fit the campaign components to our needs and the needs of our donors.

Feasibility Study

“Our organization was concerned about the feasibility study because we serve a small rural population. Having an outsider conduct this study provided the opportunity for those who were contacted to give honest responses. Because of that, we were able to identify successfully the areas of need for our campaign as well as a financial goal. Those that were contacted continue to comment to us about the professional and caring manner of the person they spoke with. They felt compelled to be fully engaged in the process and were certain that their responses would be confidential.

Solicitation Breakthrough

“The Abbey Group has been extraordinary in taking us through the solicitation process. They truly have the needs of our donors at heart and trained us based on those principals. We found it hard initially to convince some of our volunteers to join our solicitation efforts, but once they attended the volunteer orientation session they were more than eager to begin their solicitations. One of our retired physicians is a wonderful example of this. As a member of the steering committee, he adamantly professed for two years that he was not interested–and would never be interested–in solicitation. Michael helped me with an approach to encourage him to attend the orientation session. He saw that the orientations are as much fun as they are training. After attending the orientation, the next morning the physician selected nine prospects to call on. He has completed all nine of the calls, landed some significant gifts, and has thoroughly enjoyed the process. This action is directly attributed to the passion and commitment of the Abbey Group.

Turning Negative Relationships into Gold

“The Abbey Group has extensive experience working with healthcare organizations. They well understand the physician component of giving. We have had an unsuccessful history of physician giving that resulted in negative relationships between the Foundation and our physicians. Michael has been able to provide a means of communication and approach with our physicians, turning a turbulent relationship into one that has reignited a positive relationship. Our physicians are now showing their support not just through financial contributions for the campaign, but in committing to the mission of the Foundation overall.

Abbey Group Plan

“These are the recommendations made by the Abbey Group in implementing our campaign strategies:

  • Set a financial goal of $5,000,000
  • Utilize the model of four phases as a guideline throughout the campaign to raise: Lead Gifts: Board Members/Leadership $0 – $500,000
  • Phase I Quiet Phase: Major donor prospects $1,000,000 – $1,500,000
  • Phase II Major Gifts: Remaining major prospects $1,500,000 – $3,000,000
  • Phase III Gifts at Large: All remaining prospects $500,000 – $1,000,000
  • Develop committee structures, timetable guidelines and case statement as proposed

“In response to these recommendations, we did the following:

  • Developed a compelling case statement and DVD with Michael’s assistance, focusing on the five areas of interest. The case statement and DVD show people using our services, compassionately telling the story of need for each area. These have been received with more interest and excitement in our community than our organization could have anticipated.
  • Nervously embraced the $5,000,000 financial goal.
  • Established guidelines for timeframes and strategies based on the four phases as recommended.
  • Put the recommended committees in place and organized them based on the job descriptions and responsibilities developed by The Abbey Group.

I am so proud that as of today we are half-way to our goal and well ahead of schedule. I know that continuing with the vision and strategic plan developed in partnership with the Abbey Group will ensure an independent financial position for our healthcare organization, significantly benefiting the community of our donors.

Best regards,
Lisa Mahoney, VP
FHN Foundation


Leave a Reply