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The Prospect Next Door
A retired Garden Grove (California) investment banker made a generous bequest to Children’s Hospital of Orange County last month. It was the largest single gift the hospital in Orange has ever received.
Businessman Robert Tidwell died two years ago at the age of 87.
Children’s Hospital of Orange County, or CHOC, announced that Tidwell left his entire $30 million estate to the hospital.
The CHOC Children’s Foundation says Tidwell toured the hospital once before he died and appeared moved. Foundation staff members say he told them that he wanted his money to help children.
The story above appeared in a variety of media outlets last month. The most surprising detail is that the bequest was made by a donor who had previously contributed a single gift of a used computer to the hospital and was invited in for a tour. Just serendipity? Not quite, to the credit of the development staff who followed up on the in-kind gift with an invitation to tour the hospital. This serves as another reminder that every impression counts, and potential prospects may be right in front of us.
Every staff person within a nonprofit organization has the opportunity to influence a constituent’s opinion of the organization. And within the development department, it is critical that every communication with constituents be as good as it can be. Answering the phone quickly, returning messages the same day, getting another copy of the receipt in the mail promptly … smiling when greeting someone.
We pride ourselves on tracking and retaining a vast amount of information on a portfolio of prospects, and we need to also be open, receptive and attentive to the prospects we don’t know.
For development professionals in search of that overlooked prospect, it’s worth reviewing a few characteristics of the “millionaire next door,” i.e., the not-yet-identified prospect.
1. He always spends less than he earns. In fact his mantra is: over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.
2. He knows that patience is a virtue. If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated gradually by diligently saving your money over multiple decades.
3. When you go to his modest three-bed two-bath house, you’re going to see his ten-year-old economy sedan in the driveway. And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares. (He doesn’t.)
4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month.
5. He realized early on that money does not buy happiness. If you’re looking for nirvana, you need to focus on attaining financial freedom.
6. He never forgets that financial freedom is a state of mind that comes from being debt-free.
7. Although it’s possible to get rich if you spend your life making a living doing something you don’t enjoy, he wonders why you do. Life is too short.
8. He knows that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
9. When it came time to set his savings goals, he wasn’t afraid to think big. Financial success demands that you have a vision that is significantly larger than you can currently deliver on.
10. Even though he has a job that he loves, he doesn’t have to work anymore because everything he owns is paid for – and has been for years.
11. He thinks long-term to attain long-term success. The millionaire next door desires long-term deferred compensation over instant gratification.
Schultz & Williams is a national consulting firm based in Philadelphia providing management, fundraising and marketing consulting for nonprofit organizations, along with full-service direct marketing, database and creative/production services.