How to keep your fundraisers

What's the magic bullet for keeping your team from jumping ship? Recruit people passionate about your cause. For universities, that means alumni. Or sometimes parents of alumni.

Bob Grant, vice president of advancement at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, kept losing staff. He talked it over with his network of Jesuit university advancement leaders.  Their collective wisdom: deep loyalty to your institution is the only thing keeping staff from leaving for a big salary increase.

When he wanted to hire a St. Louis-based development officer, Bob first looked for alumni who live there and have development experience. Batting zero, he expanded his search.

"I found a woman who was a former teacher and a mother of  six kids, including two alumni," Bob says. "She knows the lay of the land for connecting with Catholic families in St. Louis. She knows how to communicate and is passionate about our mission."

Ann Zagaboni joined Rockhurst last year as the St. Louis regional development officer. Her two middle children are attending Rockhurst now, and her youngest, twins. plan to go there, too.

"Alumni see that I am passionate about Rockhurst and Jesuit education," Ann says. "It's easy to ask for gifts for an organization I think is doing good."

She remembers Bob telling her he could teach her fundraising when she interviewed for the job. His questions focused on Jesuit education.

"Within six months I picked up a lot of information I needed for fundraising," Ann says. 

Long-term relationships with donors are key to securing legacy gifts. That makes keeping your staff so important. Take the Jesuit leaders' wisdom to heart.