The partners at Bantivoglio Advisory have benefited from decades of experience, and much success, in major gift and capital campaign fundraising. We bring to our work strategies and tactics proven effective as the transformative force behind institutions like the Whitney Museum, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, WNET and WNYC – New York Public Media and New York Public Radio.
Our backgrounds include fundraising leadership roles at major non-profits, so we know the challenges our clients face.
Our approach is a holistic one, aimed at building consensus and promoting teamwork around ideas and relationships that will endure.
We make it our business to know your donors and donor prospects in depth, building major gift pipelines with the best data available, complementing that with our own research, then listening respectfully to every nuance of attitude and emotion that prospects express during the early stages of outreach.
Experience has taught us how to communicate with prospects in language that motivates them. Our interest goes beyond their past contributions to similar causes and encompasses how they see themselves, what they hope to accomplish with their gifts, and how their plans align with the goals of your institution. Where major gift prospects seem well-aligned, we develop strategies that present your institution's plans as an extension of their own philanthropic aims, creating a partnership that works for all concerned.
We call ourselves a boutique agency because we believe in a personal approach. Only when experienced professionals engage with a campaign personally, hands on, can the full benefit of their expertise be brought to bear on the outcome. We frequently remind clients that a subtle shift of tone can turn a conversation in the right direction. That's just one of the reasons why we prefer to remain personally engaged with the details of communications.
When working on campaigns, we frequently start with a feasibility study. Feasibility studies sometimes surprise to the upside. But at the very least, they ensure that all involved will have feet planted firmly on the ground as we start out. We need to know what is achievable, given your organization's existing base of support and the likely resonance of your goals among donors who can make a difference.
Find background on partners below.
Barbara has more than 25 years experience planning and executing large scale fundraising projects, primarily for nonprofits in social services, the arts, healthcare, and education.
Prior to establishing her own firm, she was vice president for institutional advancement at WNET, New York's public television station, supervising a department of some 125 employees and leading a fund-raising effort that brought the organization more than $80 million a year. She increased revenues substantially and significantly reduced cost per dollar raised by streamlining department processes and workflow and creating a more efficient prospect management system.
Earlier in her career, she was vice president for development for WNYC – New York's public radio network. There, she was responsible for raising 75 percent of the station’s annual revenue and led a capital campaign that exceeded its goal of $65 million. In the course of the campaign, she secured the largest gift ever presented to a public radio station.
Previously, she oversaw fundraising, marketing, sales (including all merchandising) and communications for the Whitney Museum of American Art. During her tenure there, the Association of Art Museum Directors survey ranked the Whitney first among museums, nationally, for earned income/special events, fourth for corporate memberships, and sixth for individual/family contributions.
Barbara has held senior marketing and development positions with the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, with WQED/Pittsburgh, and with the NYC Mayor's Office of Business Development, as well.
She began her career in city government in Boston, after earning a B.A. from Manhattanville College and an M.A. in urban planning from Hunter College.
She has won the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil award for public relations excellence, the American Association of Museums award for public relations and marketing, the American Marketing Association’s EFFIE award, and the Roper Starch Award for Advertising. She has served on the boards of Vineyard Theatre, the Dance Theater Workshop, the National Dance Institute and the Fresh Air Fund Council, all in New York.
Shirley has more than 30 years experience as a development professional. She has assisted more than 100 nonprofit organizations in the achievement of a broad array of ambitious goals. She began her fundraising career in New York, as the first Director of Development for the city's Landmarks Conservancy, establishing and directing the organization's fundraising office.
Subsequently, as Director of Development for New York's Cultural Council Foundation, she organized the group's first formal development efforts. She advised dozens of emerging arts groups served by CCF.
At the American Craft Museum, as manager of the Annual Fund, Shirley devised and implemented a full range of national development programs, including corporate sponsorship and exhibition underwriting, two programs that financed the construction of a new museum. She established and personally directed all of the tours and activities offered by the Museum's first major donor club, the Collectors Circle.
At Goodale Associates, she served a variety of local, national and international clients as counsel on a range of projects, from operations-oriented annual fund drives to capital campaigns. She served as Vice President for Development for the American Academy in Rome, successfully supervising a $20-million Centennial campaign for capital needs and endowment.
Ms. Jenks was founder of the Development Professionals Roundtable, where she was President for a decade. She has taught courses on fundraising at Marymount Manhattan College and the Rabbinical Assembly and has lectured at other institutions. Mrs. Jenks currently serves on the boards of Women in Development, New York; the American Foundation for the Courtauld Institute of Art, and the New York Preservation Archives Project.
Mrs. Jenks graduated with honors in Political Science from Manhattanville College. Her Masters degree is from the University of London, where she studied Medieval architecture at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Jeffrey has worked for more than a decade with some of the nation's preeminent non-profit organizations, both in staff and consulting roles.
Before becoming a consultant, in 2014, he held key staff positions at The Rainforest Alliance, The National Parks Conservation Association, and The Sierra Club.
At the Rainforest Alliance – an international organization focused on conserving tropical forests and ecosystems by transforming land-use and business practices – he oversaw all activity of the Individual Giving team. Responsibilities included managing the department staff, short- and long-term donor strategy development, and creating scenarios to attract new major donors and members. He introduced the 25-year-old organization to best practices in major donor cultivation and a moves management system that has resulted in better donor retention rates and increased annual giving.
While with the National Parks Conservation Association – the nation's largest and oldest advocate for the national parks, with over 350,000 members – he helped create the organization’s first consistent planned giving program and guided the membership program towards a more personalized digital platform.
He developed several events to attract new individual and corporate donors to the Conservation Association, including the 2009 National Parks Week NYC event – with Ken Burns in Central Park – and the creation of a nationwide "Trustee for the Parks" speakers series, which has proven successful in motivating major donors to take action. He was a key member of a team that planned and implemented the organization’s first ever capital campaign, now close to reaching its $125-million goal.
Earlier in his career, as one of six regional fundraising directors at the Sierra Club, he raised funds for both political and conservation programs in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. In 2004, he was one of the primary fundraisers for the Environmental Voter Education Campaign, which raised close to $6 million in funding to support environmentally focused candidates across the country.
Jeffrey earned concurrent Bachelor degrees in Music and Liberal Arts from the University of Miami.
Luisa began her career in prospect research at the University of Texas in 1997. There, she benefited from the University's formal prospect research training program. Two years later, she joined the Advancement Research team at the University of Miami, as Assistant Director of Research; she helped prepare prospect pools, researched individual prospects, and managed moves in a campaign that raised over $1.7 billion for the university.
Before starting work as a consultant, Luisa was the Director of Research and Prospect Management at Miami Dade College, one of the largest college systems in the nation, with over 165,000 students. In this role, she managed all aspects of prospect identification, research and tracking for College-wide fundraising activities. She also provided leadership and strategic direction for research efforts focused on long-range development, with particular emphasis on major gift development.
As a consultant, Lisa has led prospect research projects for a variety of non-profit clients, including the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Miami Children’s Hospital; Florida Memorial University; Becker College; Portland Museum of Art; Children’s Home Society of South Florida; Claremont Graduate University; Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts; The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College; Planned Parenthood; The Council for Economic Education; CASA Columbia University; CUNY School of Law, and more.
Her expertise extends to mapping connections with prospects, to facilitate outreach; auditing and upgrading of prospect management systems; strategic advice relating to the potential of prospect pools, and database management relating to prospect information.
Luisa has a Bachelor's Degree from Texas Tech University and a Master's Degree in Physiology from the University of North Texas. She is a member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Council of Resource Development (CRD).
John Aramini is a management consultant who assists our clients with organization, coordination, and process issues that can be critical to the success of a fundraising campaign. He helps clients get the commitments and internal communications right, in a way that channels energies efficiently and produces steady, predictable progress toward goals.
He is adept at designing outreach processes that trigger follow-up options appropriately, based on the outcome of initial contacts.
He has a masters degree in counseling psychology from Columbia and additional training in psychology from NYU. He has worked successfully for more than ten years as a management consultant, concentrating on the development of systems and processes that motivate people to excel and propel organizations forward economically.
Prior to striking out on his own, John ran large sales and marketing operations, managing budgets that ran as high as $40 million.
Art's background is in financial news and information. He is a two-time winner of the Loeb Award for financial news on the internet, our nation's highest award in that niche, and winner of multiple awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, as well. He was recognized as one of the top business writers in the country by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
He is an expert user and manager of financial information systems, having managed several major financial information projects on the internet, first as Managing Editor of MSN Money, Microsoft's financial news portal, and later as Director of Product Development at TheStreet.com, one of the nation's most successful stock market news sites. His experience and expertise extends to all important sources of information about prospective donors, including iWave, DonorSearch, BlackBaud, and WealthEngine.
He is a graduate of Columbia College. He was trained in the programming, maintenance, and repair of computer systems at the U.S. Navy's Advanced Electronics School in Key West.
He works on a variety of digital research and data-development projects for non-profits, ranging from deeply detailed profiles to database analysis and augmentation.
Joe is a computer graphics expert who helps clients with data visualization and data management generally. He has a masters degree in computer graphics from New York's School of Visual Arts and has won several national awards for computer graphics, notably the Loeb Award for online financial news, while employed at Microsoft and focused on multimedia data at MSN Money, Microsoft's financial news portal.
Joe can program interactive presentations to answer a user's questions about data, making the data a lot more persuasive. Interactive packages can give interested prospects much more information than would be practical in print form and help them understand an appeal in much greater depth, another factor that can increase a prospect's comfort level as commitment develops.
Crowdfunding and social media are much discussed in today's non-profit world, and many fundraising efforts will benefit from both. But successful campaigns must have support from donors who have the ability to change an organization's finances with major and principal gifts.
Why the imperative?
To begin with, major gift donors are still the driving force of philanthropy. According to Bloomerang, a maker of software for fundraising professionals, about 88% of the money raised by non-profits comes from 12% of the donors.
Further, economies of scale can come into play in powerful ways. Fundraising efforts based on broad reach and small donations from a great many donors can be very expensive, often to the point where costs absorb a significant portion of the total amount raised. When a healthy percentage of the money raised is going back into costs, progress toward the goal can be difficult.
Finally, principal and major gift donors can serve as leaders in important campaigns. A few large gifts will atract other large gifts and will build momentum in a major gift pipeline, as the initial donors discuss the campaign with friends and associates.
We feel we have an advantage in dealing with major donors because, over the years, we have facilitated many transformative gifts for institutions. Having listened, and paid attention, for many years, we are now in a position to help the leaders of non-profit institutions reach out and build solid personal connections with people who can lead fundraising efforts toward success.
Ideally, feasibility studies are done by individuals who are not long-term stakeholders and are free of the biases that sometimes affect stakeholders. In our own feasibility studies, we try to view the situation with an attitude of reasoned optimism.
Solid feasibility studies need to take into account a variety of factors. An organization's existing base of donor support – the "pipeline" – is a paramount consideration. Frequently, a well-structured wealth screen laid atop the existing donor list will reveal possibilities that have not been apparent. The donor who has been giving $1,000 a year may be in a position to give $1 million. Patterns of giving may reveal underlying inclinations, to the experienced eye.
But the donor base is just one aspect of the potential. The nature of the goal and the likely resonance of the goal in the philanthropic community must be assessed, together with the existing communications materials, branding, and information infrastructure.
All these factors must be taken into account and balanced, one against the other, to determine the overall potential in a given area. In the end, we want to set goals that stretch an organization's existing strengths to the limit, while remaining within the realm of the doable.
A strong fundraising effort involves a lot of teamwork and coordination and requires enthusiastic participation at all levels of an organization, from the person who is addressing letters to the person who is contacting principal donor prospects with specific asks. Where executive leadership has questions about overall readiness for the challenge, we can help by examining the organization's structure, projecting how that structure will interact with the predictable demands of a major campaign, and recommending solutions, where there are gaps.
Does the organization have the research capabilities required to handle voluminous data on prospects effectively?
Are communications capabilities up to the task of inspiring prospects with a compelling vision?
Is the organization holding itself accountable for a reasonable return on investment? Is it measuring the outcomes of its activities and using the feedback to adapt and adjust? Many donors demand to see evidence of advanced management practices before they will invest.
These are just a few of the questions we ask in a development audit, by way of exploring whether existing plans and personnel will provide the infrastructure necessary for success in a major campaign.
We advise clients to address clear weaknesses decisively well before the launch of a major campaign or capacity-building initiative, as the process will be much more difficult – and less productive – once a major campaign has gotten underway.
Growth requires resources. Gaining access to resources can be a complex challenge. Strong organizations have boards that partner effectively with executive leadership and actively broaden the organization's base of support in the community.
We can help develop the appropriate strategy for board recruitment. We look at the institution's basic mission, the current board make-up, and the existing chemistry between board and executive leadership as a basis for the development of new options. In some cases, the addition of one or two board members with just the right personal qualities – matched to backgrounds in the right sectors – can improve board functioning significantly in a short time.
Our goal is to identify board prospects who will be a good fit with the existing board and at the same time add significantly to fundraising capabilities, to put the organization in a much stronger position.
Fundraising strategy is largely a matter of determining exactly how a lot of small things – a solid case for support, good data – can eventually add up to big things. That happens only when all of the small things are aligned properly behind a relatively simple idea or goal, the vision at the heart of an organization. When we are confident the organization is on the right path, we are free to focus on the small things and get those right, each in its proper sequence, using tactics that have been proven successful.
Breaking a major campaign down into roles and tasks that are doable and getting everything aligned is our job as consultants. The vision comes first. Then, a case for support. We bring to the task of planning and organization decades of hands-on experience in major fundraising campaigns and direct knowledge of best practices at some of the most successful fundraising organizations in the country, including New York's Whitney Museum, WNYC – New York Public Radio, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
We are believers in data-driven research, outreach strategies crafted with care, eloquent writing and speech, and rigorous organizational discipline, all orchestrated for synergistic effect in the service of bold ideas. It's true that principal gift programs sometimes succeed quite suddenly – and we like nothing better than the bolt from the blue that changes the future of an institution in one heady moment – but we urge clients to recognize that a seemingly sudden success frequently follows a lengthy period of preparation and planning and is then set up by adroit handling of early contacts.
In our conversations about major gift programs, we get a lot of questions about prospect data that seem based on the notion that, if an organization has a long list of donor prospects, success is more or less a foregone conclusion.
It's true that the right kind of list can be enormously helpful, but also true that the list is just a start.
Prospect lists are most valuable when enriched with personal detail from multiple sources. Our work is not about lists, but about personal relationships that must be nurtured with great care. Seldom does a single source cover the whole story of a person's interests, inclinations, and giving history. So we use multiple digital sources and scour the web for anecdotal detail.
We are adept at the use of commercial data services and can help organization's make sure they are getting the full benefit of such services. We can restructure current donor files, where necessary, building new spreadsheets or databases, to facilitate the right sort of development later. We combine data files or databases to simplify and centralize data management. As the outreach gets underway, we can help match prospects with the right giving opportunities. In instances where data is voluminous and many individuals need access, we can build the appropriate vehicle for data storage and retrieval.
The goal is a prospect pipeline that tells us not only the background of individual donor prospects, but also where the conversation stands with each prospect, who bears responsibility for advancing the conversation, and when the next step is due.
Many of the organizations we work with are led by idealists – committed game-changers – as are many of the major donors we talk to. Frequently all parties involved in an important conversation are passionately committed to making the world a better place.
Principal and major donors will support an idealistic vision, so long as they see a pragmatic path to the vision's realization. They know that, unless a project is focused, organized, measured and evaluated in a rigorous way, even the most intense effort is likely to lead to poor results. Many experienced donors want to see positive change reflected in hard numbers on spreadsheets, where that is possible. Or even better, in data visualizations that make trends clear.
With that general framework in mind – be a visionary, but pragmatic, as well – we strongly urge that clients arm themselves with a battery of messaging tools. The right messaging toolset can inform and illuminate a range of contacts and conversations: direct mail, letters, emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, tours, social media and crowdfunding efforts. Key tools are listed below.
We applaud efforts to make data on philanthropy more readily available, but have learned from experience that there is no substitute for fresh individual research – at least not yet.
We advise clients to take painstaking care in filtering and prioritizing data downloaded from data services, to ensure that follow-on efforts with letters and emails are as efficient as possible.
Our original research complements the offerings of such services, assuring that the data we use in outreach efforts is up to date and includes all of the prospects accessible through your organization's own circle of influence – a resource that is frequently underutilized.
With an optimized list of donor prospects and first-rate messaging materials in hand, we can mechanize the outreach process with a variety of tools. Where a major gift pipeline is weak, direct mail is a useful option.
Major gift development programs and capital campaigns require first-rate messaging materials and donor research, as a basis; but the decisive moments nearly always occur during much more personal conversations or meetings. That's why we spend much of our time and energy helping executives and board members with personalized communications strategies and coaching.
We tailor talking points to particular conversations, taking both the caller and the prospect's point of view into account. A good set of talking points enables a busy person to pick up the phone or dash off an email without a lot of preparation. This conserves time and encourages participation by busy board members, executives, and friends.
We tell callers that they should not ask for favors. Rather, they are explaining the alignment of their organization's goals with the donor's own goals, and seeking common ground for collaboration. The chemistry of the 'ask' is an art unto itself – always personal – and a good topic for discussion.
Our perspective on grant research and writing has been shaped by enduring relationships with the leaders of some of the largest foundations in the world and by experience with many hundreds of applications representing all sorts of projects and institutions.
In targeting and writing new applications, we strive for efficiency built around a case for support that has been thoroughly researched, is well-organized, and well written.
We try to get it right the first time, telling a client's story in terms that are both vivid and fact-based, and then re-use elements of writing and research in reaching out to a broad array of foundations whose interests are aligned.
In our view, writing that is clear, concise, and well-organized– while also reflecting the passion and vision of client organizations – will make the decision-making process at foundations a lot easier, and for that reason is much appreciated by the administrators we know.
So much is at stake here, we urge clients to make sure that grant applications are polished to a high gloss and present an argument that is both fact based and emotionally compelling.
Planned giving seldom appears at the top of a busy non-profit executive's to-do list. It's a long-term investment frequently prioritized below more pressing matters. Yet, when we think of all our options in terms of potential benefits, planned giving programs rank high. Few other options promise the same long-term return on time and energy invested.
That's because planned giving makes sense for all involved. Donors derive great satisfacton from the knowledge their legacies will include meaningful gifts. These gifts will not materialize for years, in most cases, but can be very substantial, and impact a non-profit's plans in significantly.
Ideally, planned giving programs are managed in much the same way we manage our major gift programs, using many of the same materials and communications strategies, supplemented by materials focused on the organization's longer term plans and needs and, where possible, naming opportunities that can be executed in the future.
Our expertise includes experience in both design and incremental development of planned giving programs. We urge clients to think creatively about planned giving and to be pro-active in creating opportunities for donors who may wish to leave a bequest.
Today, many foundations and important individual donors impose rigorous requirements relating to the measurement and analysis of results. They want to see the data that supports an appeal. The more data a non-profit can furnish – and the more compelling the presentation – the easier it is to attract the interest of major donors.
From our point of view, the most efficient way to present data is via web-driven interactive graphics working off spreadsheets or inexpensive "open-source" databases. If the term MYSQL is unfamiliar, don't worry. That's how we describe the simplest, cheapest database there is.
Our experience in this area was gained at major web-media companies, notably Microsoft and TheStreet.com. Recognizing the importance of data display to non-profits, we make sure to keep up with the latest trends in data display technology.
The simple fact is that, where we are using numbers to measure progress over time – and trying to make the trend understandable – a picture works a lot better than either a verbal explanation or a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet. Not only that, but a good visual interface allows us to ask questions of the data in a manner that is otherwise impossible. Bottom line, we believe that first-rate interactive presentations of statistics can make a major difference in attracting donors to a cause, and have worked hard to develop our capability in that area, to the point where we believe it is second to none.
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