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Swimming with the Piranhas - An Interview with Matt Bond

In this episode, Andrew visits with Matt Bond, former director of development at the St. John Catholic Student Center at Oklahoma State University.  (Matt changed positions between when this podcast was recorded and when it was published!)  Andrew and Matt chat about Matt’s introduction to becoming a fundraising professional, his work on St. John’s $25 million capital campaign, and his strategies for growing an organization’s donor list.    

Show Notes


Matt served as the director of development at the St. John Catholic Center for over 5 years, and during his tenure there, he led a successful $25+ million capital campaign to build a new student center for the campus.  Matt is currently the executive director for the Santa Fe Family Life Center, and he is also a co-host for Holy Donors, another Petrus podcast.  (Check out Holy Donors here!)


Introduction to Fundraising

When Matt was serving as a youth minister for a local parish, he received a call from the St. John’s pastor, Fr. Kerry, asking if he wanted to interview for a campus ministry development position.  At the time, Matt knew little about fundraising, but he knew he enjoyed talking to people and he loved the Catholic Church.  Matt interviewed for the position, he got the job, and on his third day as development director, he was tasked with leading a multi-million dollar capital campaign.


Capital Campaign

Matt and Andrew discuss the steps Matt took to get this unexpected (and daunting!) capital campaign off the ground.  Matt shares stories and tips about how he grew the campus ministry’s donor database, encouraged thoughtful strategic planning, and supported the transition of St. John to becoming a campus ministry without an attached community parish.


Trial By Fire

During the discussion about the capital campaign, Matt tells many stories that highlight the need to be flexible and innovative as he learns to run an ever-changing capital campaign.  By the time the ministry broke ground, the capital campaign was $10 million more than originally planned, and the campaign’s growth required bold and creative leadership from the ministry's development team. 


Lightning Round

  1. If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • I tend to be more mission driven than cause driven.  I would raise money for a mission that would change the world, a mission that would have a major impact on our world.
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • John D. Rockefeller!  It would be amazing to hear his ideas on philanthropy and making an impact on our world.
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • Yes, absolutely.  There is a surplus of wealth and a surplus of people who want to make a difference.  It just takes the right mission and the right ask!   
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • Don’t settle for mediocrity.  Don’t settle for the easy questions.  Don’t be afraid to take leaps, to jump off the cliff without knowing where to go next.  If it’s a worthy cause, the risk is worth it.
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you professionally?
    • My Dad:  He instilled in me a great sense of hard work and figuring out answers.
    • Becky Coyle:  As my previous boss, Becky taught me that the box we live in is too small; we can accomplish great things.       
    • Josh Whelan:  Josh was the Petrus consultant who worked on the OSU capital campaign, and he was an important mentor and coach.   
  6. What is one fact about you that most people don’t know?
    • If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out.  Not only will I figure it out, but I’ll figure out how to do it excellently.  
  7. What is a book that you would recommend?
    • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


If you would like to connect with Matt, feel free to find him on Facebook or send him an email at [email protected]


Andrew’s Takeaways

Wasn’t I right about Matt being a great fundraiser and leader? I mean…going from 75 active donors to raising over $26 million dollars is not accomplished by the faint of heart. Matt is a trooper and has left his mark in a huge way on the OSU campus in Stillwater. 


My first takeaway is the importance of understanding what your ministry needs and how to make a strong transition when necessary. Losing 90 percent of your donors overnight is tough, but shifting the focus of the St. John ministry to college students was the right move for them. Matt is totally right, however, in saying that this is not something that can work if you don’t have the funding. If your organization is thinking about making a huge shift like that, be sure you have a game plan for fundraising, or you could find yourself in a really tough situation. 


Second, Matt launched his capital campaign by first doing a feasibility study. The information that he gleaned from that experience and the cultivation of so many prospective donors was priceless when it came time to start asking for gifts. I strongly encourage you to consider a feasibility study if your organization is considering a capital campaign. Reach out directly to me if you want to discuss this in detail or find out if Petrus can help you with this endeavor. 


Lastly, Matt’s point about making gifts from young donors meaningful is such an important point. I have worked with a lot of young donors right out of college and if you can show them how their gifts can make a difference, you have the opportunity to inspire them to a lifetime of giving. The dollars are never going to be equal to what an older and more established donor can give, but starting that practice early could be transformational in their lives and who knows what good they could accomplish down the road through their philanthropy. 



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