In this episode, Andrew visits with JoAnn Shull, Director of Development at St. Thomas More Newman Center at the University of Missouri. In this episode, Andrew and JoAnn discuss making the transition from campus minister to director of development, fundraising and the importance of communication and design work. They also discuss the challenges you can face when you combine family life with working in development, as well as, how to create a tribe that supports you.
JoAnn Shull worked as the Campus Minister at St. Thomas More Newman Center at University of Missouri for 8 years before transitioning to the role of Director of Development, which she has held for the last 5 years.
Bringing FOCUS to the campus is what jump started the need for a devoted development position. FOCUS was fantastic, but what comes with the program is more students. More students meant more retreats, more transportation needs, more food requirements, more t-shirts. And they were left wondering how to afford the 'more.' Setting limits on attendance was not the answer, so figuring out how and who to hire for development was. In order to even begin the search, they were required to raise $40k.
When they reached that goal, JoAnn stepped out of campus ministry and into development.
Move from Ministry to Development
JoAnn missed the student relationships, but found that ministry experience valuable in making conversation with donors. She could tell stories of what their donations were going towards.
How do you maintain that connection? JoAnn had to find a way to continue connections in a new way. She incorporates student stories into their newsletters as well as going to the student center to connect, talking with interns, faculty, etc. You have to make effort to know students, to engage with them. Students become alum and alumni become donors.
Class Gift Program
One of the first items JoAnn began was the Legacy Fund. She utilized the relationships she had with those senior students to figure out what they really wanted. And what they wanted was a way to contribute to an Endowment Fund. They wanted a way to see an impact. In 2020, they moved their senior celebration to a virtual platform. "It was weird, but we did it."
Communication & Design
At the heart of development is communication. It's necessary for relationship building, donor focused newsletters, planned giving, impact stories.
What key components help a newsletter/appeal letter?
JoAnn works with 2 student stories, strong visuals, drives to social media/website, a "why I give" section and includes the word "you."
People are more attentive when they can see themselves in it.
Book Recommendation: "Story Brand" by Donald Miller
"You" made this possible.
JoAnn tells the story of the Good Samaritan but from the perspective that the donor is the Samaritan and we, the development officer, are the innkeeper.
Mail merge is a terrific was to personalize communications.
JoAnn's tips: keep is short, engaging with color, pictures, post script. And never smaller that 13 point font.
How do you merge hardcopy with digital?
Send out an email letting them know that the newsletter is on it's way. Same with the appeal letters. You can use the same copy for multiple forms of communications. Social media, hardcopy, emails, etc. Just because you've seen it ten times, that doesn't mean that the donor has seen it even once. So don't be afraid to send it again.
Working with the Team
You need to know the strengths of your staff.
Book Recommendation: "The Spirituality of Fundraising" by Henri Nouwen
"Imagining Abundance" by Kerry Robinson
JoAnn has 3 kids (ages 6, 4 and 19 months). And she is able to do this work by having a strong support system. Traveling presents unique challenges. Sometimes she would take her mom with her to watch the baby. It's important to have a supportive boss and to communicate what you need. Turnover is more expensive than working through the issue.
Andrew's Action Item:
If you haven't already completed your Advent Appeals, take a moment to look at and change the language to be more donor centric. It's a simple shift that you can begin to incorporate into all of your communications. "You made this happen."
"In a conference, what I'm really looking for is the practical TOOLS on how to do your job well and the MOTIVATION to go out and be ready to get back to work. I've gotten both of those things from Petrus. I'm really excited to get back home and HUSTLE and really put my all into it."