By Susan LeDoux
Michael Hennessy said the Open Door Mission’s annual budget grew by almost a million dollars during his tenure as Development Director (2009-2010) and Executive Director (2011-2017).
“We invested over $250,000 into long overdue, basic infrastructure. We raised over $500,000 in capital campaign funds for various projects, such as purchasing our new women and children’s residence in Gates. At the same time, we established a reserve fund to better handle ‘frequent unforeseen emergencies’ with the buildings. Now I want to translate that development success to help other faithful non-profits achieve their purposes.”
Enter Hennessy Advancement Solutions.
Hennessy said he believes his experiences at Open Door Mission, based on 30 years in sales, marketing, media and public relations, combined with Biblical principles of fiduciary stewardship and servant leadership, helped him create a unique business vision and prepared him for this new endeavor. Hennessy Advancement Solutions is not your average consulting firm, nor does he expect average results for his clients.
“I want to come alongside your organization as a fiduciary steward, meaning I want to be so focused on what benefits you, and your organization, that consequently I do well. That’s a Biblical principle… We are both incentivized to do the same thing, which is to grow the resources of your organization.”
Sounds good, but just how does this play out?
Hennessy shared with The Good News basic principles he learned over the two careers.
Relationship building is the key to almost everything, but especially to successful fund raising and philanthropy.
“When you look at the donor pyramid, the bottom of the pyramid is all the people who send you $2 to $50 in the mail (transactional). Over time, you may cultivate some of them up to mid-level through, say, monthly giving clubs where they might donate $100 to $900 over a year. At the top of the pyramid are those who give $1000 or more in a year (major donors). You can grow these relationships at the lowest cost, with the highest return on investment. For instance, in order to grow the bottom of the pyramid by $10,000 you may need to spend $2,000 – $3,000. To grow the top of the pyramid by $10,000, it may only cost a couple cups of coffee, a lunch, and a few hours for tours. This is about building one-on-one relationships, not bulk mailings, events, or marketing. The key is to establish an emotional connection between the donor and the organization through relationship.”
For example, Hennessy talked about people’s reactions when they would finally come in for a tour of the Mission, expecting to see just meals served and clothing handed out. Instead, when they saw real lives being transformed, and heard the testimonies of staff, they formed an emotional bond with the organization through relationship, and were more likely to give significantly, even sacrificially.
Hennessy maintains non-profits do not invest enough in this area. “The major donor relations person is also usually the development director, or the CEO, and they both have all these other plates spinning. It’s hard for them to devote the time necessary to build strong relationships. So that’s one thing I hope to help them do — come along side folks and help them cultivate relationships with their donors to get them more engaged with the organization and leadership.”
Hennessy will be more than your average consultant. “I want to come in, roll up my sleeves, and we’re going to put some shoe leather on this development plan of yours…I want to become part of your team and do it with you…I can’t become passionate about your organization from a home office.”
According to Hennessy, the next area of expertise is the capital campaign. There are established phases and strategic action steps necessary to running a successful campaign:
- Case for Support/Need
- Campaign Chair and Steering Committee Development
- Public Campaign
Another excellent example of people working together for a purpose is the newly formed CUCA (Churches United Combating Addiction).
The local church established CUCA for the church, to equip and support the church as it ministers to those in their congregations who are losing loved ones to this epidemic. Founding Board Chair, Jim Folwell, Care Ministry Leader at The Fathers House, partnered with Church of Love Pastors Ron Gibson and Randy Henderson, to form CUCA. They asked Hennessy to join the board as a volunteer Marketing Director and Spokesperson. He rallied the local TV stations, the County Health Commissioner, Sheriff Todd Baxter, Chief Ciminelli, six other town Chief’s of Police, and more than 20 recovery programs. Over 200 people attended the first conference.
Many lamented that we lost 20 of the most effective treatment beds when Teen Challenge left Rochester. CUCA is determined to get these faith-based beds back to engage in this battle with addiction.
Hennessy challenges local pastors: “Listen, if you’re not currently supporting the Mission’s highly effective faith-based recovery program, you need to start doing that. Then, we need to focus on bringing these 20 Teen Challenge treatment beds back. Over 200 young people died by overdose last year. The church needs to come together and unite behind this single purpose during this modern day plague.”
The permanent answer to this crisis is faith-based beds. “Government can build 100 beds, but that only brings temporary change. Permanent change requires faith. The change needs to move from my head to my heart. And nothing does that like the Gospel and a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
For more information, contact Hennessy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (585) 721-7037.