Andrew: [00:00:00] Well howdy everyone. This is Andrew Robison. I’m here with a very special guest. Larry Massey is president of the Scanlan Foundation and the Scanlan Foundation is a big funder of organizations– non-profits here, primarily in the Houston area is where they’re located. But the impact of what they do certainly stretches across the country and around the world. So Larry is going to fill us in on exactly how he came to be in this role and what the Scanlan Foundation does. So Larry I’ll kick it over to you.
Larry: [00:00:25] Well great. Thank you very much for having me today on your podcast. And you know I’ve been associated with the Scanlan Foundation as a trustee for the past nine years and I’ve been President for three and a half and have always been involved with the not for profits and a trustee or President, Chairman, whatever role as a sideline to my banking career of 39 years here in Houston and one thing about the Scanlan, just to kind of let everybody know what we’re talking about here, Scanlan is a 72 year old foundation that was formed January 25, 1947. We’re about to celebrate our seventy second birthday and it was formed by two of the Scanlan daughters: Lillian Scanlan who passed in ’47 and one half of the estate went in under her will. And then Stella Scanlan who passed in 1950 and that finished up the other half. So the family fortune was then brought into the foundation, completed in 1950. The Scanlan Foundation is under these two wills that basically say that we are to promote the Roman Catholic Church of Texas and that a bishop of now Galveston-Houston will serve on our board. So we’ve had 72 years of the bishop of Houston serving on our board of trustees. And of course, now we have Cardinal Dinardo as one of our trustees. So it’s been a it’s a job that you would pay to do. And we’ve always prided ourself in low overhead and being a little bit of low key and low profile but we’ve given major money over the years. And what was amazing, at our seventieth birthday, Bishop Lopes, who’s the bishop of the Ordinariate, who’s you know here in Houston, had a party for our seventieth anniversary. And He invited everyone that he knew and people flew in from El Paso, Lubbock, Brownsville, drove in from Beaumont, all over the state. Basically it was kind of heady stuff in that they were there to thank us for 70 years of funding over all those years and and so we were instrumental in the early years of almost all the Catholic charities and ministries over those many years. For example University of St. Thomas in the will it says give money to University St. Thomas as they get formed. So our anniversary and theirs is the same year.
Andrew: [00:03:13] Wow that’s pretty cool. I didn’t realize that.
Larry: [00:03:16] So you know the Scanlan family of course started with Timothy Scanlan who was the father and he came to America as a little boy with his parents from Ireland in 1837. And then when he became around 21 years old he comes to Houston and he had probably a dollar in his pocket. But Houston in 1852 had a lot of history in front of it. And so he married a local girl, Sophie Ebert, and she was the daughter of a baker. But the problem was he was Irish Catholic and anti-slavery you know the Irish were not very fond of slavery to begin with. And so he gets married in April of 1861 which is a month that’s a little problematic.
Andrew: [00:04:04] I would say so. A big time in our history.
Larry: [00:04:07] Yeah. So a little Fort Sumpter action and a Civil War so he quickly leaves Houston and goes to Mexico leaving a pregnant wife behind. And so for four years he hides out in Mexico trading cotton and made a little money and came back to Houston of course in 1865. He had bought a little real estate at depressed prices and went on to become one of the richest men in Houston. In 1870 he was appointed as a Republican reconstruction mayor. So from 1870 to 1874 he served as Mayor of Houston in 1874 when the everyone got their voting rights back. Of course they threw him out of office because he was a no good union supporter. But Ulysses S.Grant then then appointed him as Postmaster General. But he was the type, very industrious, very civic-minded, but also had a very good business mind and so started the gas company, water company, a trolley, railroad, and plus real estate and being a merchant. So he did quite well as a business man.
Andrew: [00:05:22] Sounds just like an incredible man. Certainly meant a lot for the city of Houston. And what the city of Houston now has meant for so many other places. That’s incredible.
Larry: [00:05:31] So he was fascinating and so my assistant, Jeannie Bergman and I, we’ve got a little bit of history on him but we’re just now doing additional research because the more we learn the more we like about this incredible founder of Houston. So he and his wife have eight daughters. None of them marry. He passes in 1906 and the daughters live together in a big house downtown. That was the Scanlan house on Main Street. And Kate Scanlan was the daughter that was kind of like Dad’s businesswoman and she was tough. And so they continued to grow the fortune plus started the Museum of Fine Arts, San Jose Clinic, and numerous other Catholic projects. They were all over the books. When the last two passed they gave their family fortune to this foundation which in the past seventy two years has given away one hundred twenty five million dollars to Catholic ministries of Texas.
Andrew: [00:06:37] That’s incredible. What an impact that that foundation that gift has made on so many organizations and so many lives.
Larry: [00:06:43] Kirk Pfeffer one of our trustees about five years ago, after we were talking about what we were doing, says, “This is God’s money.”.
Andrew: [00:06:51] No question about it. That’s incredible. Wow what a story. Yeah it’s really exciting to see the Scanlan legacy live on through the foundation and through the organizations that the foundation is now supporting and making such an impact. And I know personally, I fundraised for organizations that have been the beneficiary of Scanlan Foundation and it’s always such a joy just to work with the team here, and I know it’s a small team, but just the the people that have run Scanlan Foundation, yourself included, have such a passion for and such a desire to see that legacy live and to honor it. And it’s just such an incredible joy to be able to watch that over the time.
Larry: [00:07:29] So we’re known as kind of a type 3 foundation which means that we are 100% Catholic and that we support the Catholic Church. And so we give money twice a year and we give to all 15 dioceses. Then the half our money goes to Catholic education and then what’s left, which is about a third of the money, goes to the ministries.
Andrew: [00:07:54] Are those guidelines that were set long ago or have those been adopted or that’s just the track that the Scanlan Foundation has kind of moved into over years of giving?
Larry: [00:08:03] It appears that it’s been just evolved you know in that the wills are fairly simple. And so these are like policies that have kind of developed and that we just want to support. You know it’s amazing how many good causes are out there so we go through a whole process of trying to allocate the money to these causes. Over the years we’ve have kind of eliminated certain types of requests, like capital campaigns or something that we do not normally do anymore. And that came about because we developed an appetite for doing programs and we like also high impact programs. And so I know one that we have in common is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. So we were the early money in nine years ago at Texas State who I think was the first recipient of that money of funding the missionaries coming in. And so currently there’s 10 college campuses in Texas that have FOCUS of which we fund nine of, with only the tenth one, which is Rice, which is the newest, which received money from a private benefactor.
Andrew: [00:09:21] That’s interesting how you have, you know FOCUS is a group that has kind of moved into Texas and is making a phenomenal impact across the state, and it’s got to be very exciting and fulfilling for you to know that you’ve had a part in allowing that organization to have such fruit here in the state of Texas.
Larry: [00:09:38] So through Petrus, you’re the ones that found us and reached out in those early days, I think with the University of Texas and several others probably, Baylor. And so we were early money in. So we look for high impact situations and that has proven to be a winner. And so we are proud of our involvement and now we’re looking for that part of college campus evangelization to even grow some more over the next five years.
Andrew: [00:10:08] No question. No doubt about it. That’s incredible. Just to give our listeners kind of some scope I know you say one hundred and twenty five million dollars over seventy two years. How many grants you typically make in a year? And how many requests do you typically receive?
Larry: [00:10:22] We probably get about, We have ninety four that we’re looking at right now for our A cycle, which we will be meeting here in March. We meet twice a year. Our deadlines are May 15th and then we have a November 15th deadlines for submission. And we have a new website that’s been created. Our system is fairly simple. I would say 98-99% of those who are grant applicants we know and have a long history with. And so there’s only one or two that will come through that are new. So a lot of the schools we’ve had histories like Incarnate Word Academy here in Houston. We even found one the Scanlan daughters was valedictorian in 1882. So I mean 100 hundred plus years of history. But you know those are kind of schools that we’ve got 70 years of experience with.
Andrew: [00:11:22] Yeah. And I want to come back to the point that you made about having the relationship and for many years, I want to come back to that a little bit later, but I know you said that you were in banking for 30 plus years before coming into this role with Scanlan and I know that you said you’ve been on the charitable side of things, serving as board member and trustee and adviser. But how has your work in banking prepared you for this role? And was it being a trustee with Scanlan and then coming in and being the president of Scanlan, was it more or less kind of what you expected it to be or have you brought some of your life lessons from banking into this role?
Larry: [00:11:56] Yeah that’s a good question in that as a banker for thirty nine years I decided to retire somewhat early and to go in full time into Catholic ministry. This opportunity came open a year after I retired, to which the previous president had some health issues. And basically I had about 10 minutes notice of going from Trustee to President.
Andrew: [00:12:23] Oh man. You were the last one in the room right? Is that how that worked?
Larry: [00:12:26] Well, I must been out of the room, but anyway I was the one that is probably of the trustees that was, one available, two had the skill set and part of my history as a banker I was a trust officer and the manager of a trust department. So that first Monday that I showed up, I will say there’s a lot of difference between being a trustee and a president, especially with a small staff in that the President is in charge of 99% of what goes on here. And so what I did was I used my trust officer experience, treating it kind of like a grandfather estate and that my job was to get the key and come in and kind of gather up the assets and look through the files, etc. So I ended up you know the first six months were a learning curve but I was left a lot of good files and the previous trustees had done a good job. I have built a team of professionals to help me, you know, like a CPA attorney plus the investment advisors and the insurance and just made sure that reviewed everything. My first five years in banking I was an auditor and so I kind of use that skill set then shifted to trust officer and now I’m kind of using my private banking loan officer experience too. It’s kind of fun to mail out these grant checks which you could think of as loan proceeds but I don’t have repayment payments.
Andrew: [00:14:03] Right. Absolutely. So being on the development side of things for many years. And I know a little bit more so I don’t think of it this way anymore but I used to think what an easy job that would be to run a foundation when you’re just, people want to take you to lunch all the time and then you just mail out checks. I mean that’s gotta to be the easiest job in the world, coming from a fundraising standpoint where I hustled a lot and I was the one making those calls and doing all of that. But that’s not really the case; it’s not just a simple people take you to lunch and then you send them checks.
Larry: [00:14:31] No there’s a lot of work to it. And I would say I’m working as hard today as I was as a Executive Vice President of the bank with a big portfolio and you know when you take the job seriously, as we are, it’s a full time job. And so we have to really work hard to make sure that the different ministries…that we know what’s going on…you know if there’s transition. We’ve also developed where we look for ministries that are not only sustaining but are doing well. We want to see high impact. High impact meaning meaningful change to the culture and exhibiting Catholic identity. We’ve had some different ministries that have kind of let their Catholic identity slip, which for the Scanlan Foundation that’s problematic. We want a robust Catholic identity if we’re gonna give you money from a Catholic foundation. And we’re one of the few pure Catholic foundations, in that the Kennedy Foundation down in Corpus Christi is a lot bigger than we are. But there’s only a handful of what I would call pure Catholic foundations in the country.
Andrew: [00:15:56] So you should something a second ago about how you like to fund ministries that you know are sustaining and that are growing. And I don’t know if you used the word growing. But to the point of they’re looking for, they’re not coming to you with crisis needs. They’re coming to you with maybe opportunities for expansion or growth or furthering their ministry. I know a lot of people outside of fundraising maybe so board members or staff members they sometimes they want to hide their success from funders for the fear of, “Well if they think that we’re doing well, then they’re not going to give us any more money,” right? And in fundraising we know that’s not the case. But can you explain, can you kind of talk to that point a little bit from your standpoint of you’re looking for organizations that you know are doing well and maybe not flush with cash but certainly are sustainable and because that’s where you see your opportunity to make more impact. Is that right?
Larry: [00:16:45] Yeah. We look for, you know, I’m looking at the kind of the one hundred and ninety names that we have here. I look at them as clients, like my banker days. So it’s definitely a portfolio of high schools, college ministry, then you’ve got all the different Catholic health care, Catholic you know those that are taking care of the ones who are poverty, and then also of course we’re really big on vocations so we’re always helping seminarians and the different seminaries, plus all the consecrated women. You know it’s just all the different facets of the Catholic Church. But we want to see those that have a good board, good governance that are expanding. We voted today to give a nice grant to one of our oldest clients who’s expanding and I noticed that they’re now gotten themselves debt free and with savings, but now they’re able to expand and offer more services to those in need and that’s what we really look for is that you want to fund success. And we want sustainability. And we definitely look hard at all of our grant applications to make sure that they’re either growing and/or are making a impact you know in our culture.
Andrew: [00:18:17] Right. Absolutely. And I think that the image that always comes to mind for me right or wrong is the image of the Titanic going down. And you know that people always say rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, that’s not what funders want to do. They don’t want to support an organization that they see is going down, so to speak. They want to be involved and engaged with organizations, with nonprofits that are doing well that are thriving because they know that their investment now will ultimately lead to even more ministry or more programming or more lives changed in the end.
Larry: [00:18:50] Yeah I totally agree in that I mean we’re looking for those entities that have a great future and we funded groups for 70 years and we want to see what we can do for the next 70. So foundations usually have a multigenerational aspect to them. You know you go through the files and you see all the history and then you say, “Well we’re currently making history.” And I’m also starting to meet a lot of the other trustees of other foundations and comparing notes and helping them with this and then there’s a lot of individuals especially in the Houston area that have acquired wealth through business or through good investments and they’re very interested in family foundations. So we’re trying to help all of them too.
Andrew: [00:19:38] Yeah I know you said you’re networking but that’s really fascinating. How are you being of service to people that are kind of trying to get into this line of ministry so to speak?
Larry: [00:19:48] Well, we have organized a group, which is under development, but we have about 40 foundations and family foundations and then like us who are starting conversation on communicating so that we get to know each other. Two would be to be able to make it more efficient for not for profits to come meet with us where they could meet with 30 or 40 of us at once. And then three, in case of a crisis similar to Hurricane Harvey, so that the leaders of the Church and of the city could communicate with us and say, “We have this large need now. We have a crisis.” And that we could coordinate with each other instead of all doing their own thing.
Andrew: [00:20:33] Well that just sounds incredible and I’m thrilled to hear that that’s happening and to your knowledge is that happening in other places in the country and you guys are emulating that or is this more, are you on the leading edge of that idea?
Larry: [00:20:43] This has been a conversation with another foundation and I, and we’re putting it together as we speak. Maybe this will be a future podcast. Give us about a year to put it together. We’re using stories from other groups out there that are doing similar work, maybe not the same, but we are looking at other organizations that do similar type of work and we are wanting to just make it more effective. You know we look in the history and you get the Scurlocks and the Hermans and the you know names like that who left huge legacies, you know parks and hospitals and stuff like that. And Methodist, M.D. Anderson, St. Luke’s, all these different big charitable gifts that were made that built the parks and Medical Center and the hospitals. And well now we, as kind of a third generation, we need to become very effective and there’s so many foundations and groups out there that with a little bit of coordination we can have a lot more effect and impact on those ministries that we like to fund.
Andrew: [00:22:00] I think that’s great. One question comes to mind: As a foundation I’m sure you’re constantly in that space of discerning as a board and as that group where your investments are going to go and I’m sure some foundations say, “You know what, we’re going to let other groups take the lead on…(the term was used a couple of years ago here in Houston)…the Moonshot ideas…(the big transformational projects that are going to be very costly, require a lot of investment. There’s a high risk to them)…We’re going to let other groups do that and we’re going to focus on just making sure that organizations can keep their doors open.” Or you’re on the other side and you say, “Look our founders didn’t set this up so that we could fund the light bill. We want to make transformational differences in organizations and in the culture.” So I’m sure that’s just kind of a struggle of every foundation. Is that something that you and your board wrestle with or do you feel pretty confident of where you’re at? It sounds like you’re trying to become more efficient so you can become more effective. But is that sort of a regular conversation or am I just making that up in my mind and it’s more cut and dry than that?
Larry: [00:22:58] No that’s definitely a question that we work on daily in that you want a blend. One thing is we no longer do capital campaigns but ]we like to do program moneys. We do look for those that we have a good relationship with and we know what they’re doing and that we can go to the next level with them. We try to balance all of that. And so we’ve funded a lot of new ministries but we knew the people. And of course we start small to see how they do. And then of course then success… They’ll report back a year later. And we’ve been very pleased with the handful of new ministries who have come online and they’re having a large impact in a hurry and they’re very entrepreneurial. But that’s kind of a handful of them. But the schools is where the action is, making sure that tuition assistance is pushed out to them so that not only can a large family can have their children go with some assistance and also opportunity for those that can’t afford Catholic education get the opportunity. One of our projects is to work the numbers to see how we can have even greater impact-get more of the youth into Catholic schools.
Andrew: [00:24:25] Yeah it’s interesting. So from your standpoint, I’ve had this conversation with multiple Foundation people over the years, you kind of made this point earlier, you think of these as sort of you know loans, investment loans I guess so to speak and maybe that’s not the right term, but there’s no loan repayment process right? So when you fund an organization there’s no way to really say, “I’m not pleased with that gift or that investment” other than to say, “You didn’t do what we wanted you to do.” or “You didn’t fulfill your end of the bargain so you’re not going to get funding this year.” So that’s kind of the check and balance from a charity standpoint. Make sure you do what you say you’re going to do so that you’re then eligible. But really that’s the only way that you can manage how the gifts that you’re making are making an impact. Am I right in that way or is it more than that?
Larry: [00:25:10] Yeah I mean some of the foundations I know are probably a little tighter on the results orientation than than we are. We do keep up with the recipients and of course we’ve got a close relationship with all the bishops in Texas, so we have our finger on the pulse of you know, are they doing good work or not. There’s been a handful that have kind of dropped off the radar unfortunately. But you know I’d say the vast majority are out there just giving it all they got, doing God’s work.
Andrew: [00:25:43] And you don’t do multi-year pledges is that right?
Larry: [00:25:45] That is one thing we don’t do we. We’re one year at a time. We do ministries, and programs tuition, assistance. So we look at the history of our giving. So those that have received money have a good chance of receiving next year. And then we keep up with them. And then I try to make visits and get to know the folks and then between the bishops and me and the input we receive we’re able to kind of monitor what’s going on. Of course we get input from all the other trustees, each meeting that we have and we have to trustee meetings per year that are the official meetings where we vote to spend the money and then we then quickly let the people know what they received and when to expect their checks.
Andrew: [00:26:37] What mistakes have you seen that fundraisers have made that you would offer as advice to the listeners when they’re working with a foundation or seeking grant funding.
Larry: [00:26:46] Well that’s a great question in that as someone who has been on the other side of being a grant writer. But let me impart this as advice now, that I’ve been on both sides of the fence.
Andrew: [00:26:59] Please.
Larry: [00:26:59] One is, I used to do grant writing where it was like a 100 page notebook and I would mail them out and I would do lots of them. And it took a lot of work, especially all the research and compiling. But I would say one is if you do not have a relationship with a particular foundation the odds of getting any money whatsoever is a long shot. You’re just not going to get the money. Because if you think about it even though we have a pretty good size foundation with a good piece of money to give away, we’re being asked for three times that amount. So there’s always pressure. So we’re always having to make decisions. Well if a request comes in that we’ve never heard of or have no relationship with that’s gonna be an easy one to say no. Just because they might be a great group, if nothing else we’ll delay them and say, “Well, we need to learn more about them.” So one is you’ve got to develop a relationship. Now, the technique that I have told other not for profits is that you need to look at the list of trustees. You need to see if your board has a friendship or a relationship with any of the trustees of the foundation and then start communicating. And then that will start the process of which you get a meeting and I mean you’ve got to cultivate a relationship. And without that your odds are against you getting anything.
Andrew: [00:28:38] Because you don’t have a very large board of trustees. How many are on your board?
Larry: [00:28:41] Total is five, of which one’s a cardinal.
Andrew: [00:28:44] So if a member of your board comes to a meeting or comes to you in between one of these meetings and says, “I know about an organization; I’ve recently learned about them, they’ve got a solid board, one of their trustees and I actually know each other, we go way back.” That’s going to pull a lot of weight with the rest of the trustees.
Larry: [00:29:01] And that is happened. And that’s how it works. And all of a sudden you pull them out of the pile, and this will be true of almost anything, interviewing for a job or trying to get into medical school. You know in that you’ve got to look for a relationship and you’ve got to make your case. And so that gets you the appointment and then you’ve got to be doing a good job. So I would say you have to be very strategic. Not all foundations are created equal. They’re all different. It’s almost like dealing with the United Nations. I mean every foundation has its own rules and regs and timing and when they meet; some accept applications you know are open, some are you have to be invited to make a grant request. I mean, there’s 20 different variables but it’s up to the grant writer to learn all of these and to figure out, “OK this one likes education,” or “This one likes doing health care,” or “This one likes whatever.” Look at the trustees. Look at your board. Develop a process by which you try to get a relationship built and then move forward. And it’s a slow one. I know of a true story of a large foundation that kind of gives a small amount first year. So if you’re a new name to hit their grants and they like you they start with a small amount. Now that makes sense because they’re basically having to push probably another name. Someone’s going to feel a change. Ok? But also I heard that what they do is they look to see how they then come back from that amount of money and how they respond. So one would be, are they grateful? And then two, is if they come back the next year and say, “Here’s what we did with your money” and that they like what they did. Well this one that I’m thinking of, which is not us, but then the second year they liked what they saw and they got 10 times the amount. I remember them being disappointed with the first year and I told them, I said, “No no no no. You need to treat that like it’s a hundred million dollars.” And it worked.
Andrew: [00:31:29] Absolutely. What great advice.
Larry: [00:31:30] So one thing I would say, I just remembered another absolute death sentence. So I met with a school principal and the timing was such that I actually was able to take the grant check to them for tuition. So we’re sitting there I got the tour of the schoo,l I gave her the money, the principal the money, and I was all excited to do that, a little fanfare you know like, “Here’s the check.” And so I got a letter three days later it said, “Mr. Johnson, thank you for the money.” And we love them. They’re a great school but I noticed that they have different databases for different purposes. And so I called her and I was very polite but I was kind of like, “We like you anyway, because you’re a Catholic high school.” I said, “But your other benefactors may not be as forgiving, and you need to really go in there and update and clean that database to make sure especially if you sign those letters that you’ve looked at the letter, because there’s all kinds of wrong with that story.
Andrew: [00:32:43] And for those who aren’t aware, Mr. Johnson was the previous.
Larry: [00:32:46] Well he died 15 years ago.
Andrew: [00:32:49] Exactly. So plenty of time to make those updates.
Larry: [00:32:51] Yeah. So I mean there was another president in between, and also that I had personally met with them. So I mean that’s one of those and we still get mail here for all those different names. So what I’ve noticed is a lot of not for profits have multiple databases and you’ve just got to keep it updated, especially dealing with major gifts. I mean it’s one thing to be getting one hundred dollar gift was another to get multi thousands. And so I’m just that’s a word to the wise.
Andrew: [00:33:27] Excellent advice and I couldn’t have said it better myself. What other advice can you offer for folks when they’re in the grant writing process? I’ll sort of throw in a story here. I knew a foundation and every year when they received a request they actually would go through their records. They kept a database on all the grantees and they would look and there were about six different criteria that that organization had to hit just to go into the pile for consideration. One of them was did we fund them last year? Check. Did they send a thank you note? Check. If there was no check mark for a thank you note, they didn’t even go into the pile for consideration. And I don’t know. That may be an extreme situation but how important is it that, you mentioned it already, be grateful and use the right name but what are some other things that are just obvious for fundees.
Larry: [00:34:18] Well I always tell the some of the recipients that it took one hundred and fifty years to get this money to you. So we’re taking it very serious. And if you’re cavalier with receiving a check for forty thousand, fifty thousand, one hundred thousand, whatever that is, then that’s just very telling. And I have been on the opposite side where I’ve seen the staffs of the not for profits I’ve noticed where they just open the mail and make the deposit and off they go and then I’ve seen the others where they made sure that the list of the moneys that they receive get to all the staff and all the board and multiple thank you notes go out; very classy. I would say it’s worth, I know everybody’s bus,y but don’t be busy being busy. You know? Because you’re going to end up struggling when a number of these…dealing with foundations is different than anything else that you can deal with. And so you’ve got to deal with them and know their personalities. Know if the founder is either getting ill or just knowing the dynamics of each foundation and on one hand it’s great to have these relationships but you got to, like anything, you gotta maintain them.
Andrew: [00:35:38] Absolutely. And that’s, when I was in fundraising I had success raising money from private foundations and people would, sometimes my colleagues would come up and other major gift officers would come up and they would ask me, “Foundations aren’t even on our radar. How are you being so successful? And my answer was always, “I treat them like individuals. I treat them the exact same way that I treat the individual donors that I’m getting to know that I’m cultivating and building relationships with.” I just know that every twelve months they’re expecting a letter from me with a program idea and a proposal. And so in some ways that takes a little bit of pressure off because with individuals part of what we’re always working on as fundraisers is when’s the right time to ask for a gift. And foundations, you more or less know the right time. Now, what requests you put into an organization at what time may be, to a foundation, may be still up for consideration. You want to make a point there?
Larry: [00:36:30] Well, one thing that I just remembered is that, don’t give up. Meaning sometimes you’ll send in a request and the first year you get a decline. Well it may be that they just don’t have the money to give you but they like you. So you’ve got to sustain it. I’ve seen a lot of them that they’ll do one and then give up. Well it may take a couple of years for the foundation to actually free up the money by rearranging their grant recipients, etc, to get you the money. And so one would be, don’t take a decline as a no and don’t get your feelings hurt because this isn’t magic money. I mean this is real business, real money, and I know that as a banker I learned where you develop the relationship, and sometimes it took four or five years to get a really nice account. Well the same thing is with relationship with foundations. A lot of them have been around for 50 or 100 years. And so you’ve got to cultivate it. And so a first year no or even a second year no doesn’t mean they don’t like you, but you just have to fine tune your grant requests and then get to know and you just keep working it.
Andrew: [00:37:53] It’s kind of like that old saying, everybody gets knocked down. Your real character comes through and shows how you get up from it.
Larry: [00:38:00] Yeah. So anyway it’s definitely an art to it. And a lot of skill set and you got to learn all the subtleties. But being on both sides of the fence, this is my first opportunity to actually be on the donor the benefactor side. And there is a lot of difference. But you asked earlier about, “oh it’s just easy.” Well I would say, it’s easy if you don’t care but I don’t know a single foundation person that doesn’t care a lot. The amount of effort and research and databasing and checking, especially part of our income stream is oil and gas royalties. And when oil dropped from $100 to $30, all of a sudden I was on the phone to a number of ministries saying, “What did you budget? Because that’s going to get cut.” And some understood and some didn’t. But we are trying our best to maximize as much as we can to all the great opportunities out there. But what we’re looking for is people that have a heart for the ministry, care about people, changing lives, and doing the Lord’s good work.
Andrew: [00:39:19] Absolutely. I think that’s very well said and I appreciate that. My next question was actually, what characteristics do you believe make the best development officers? I think you kind of gave a pretty good list right there. What are some other considerations?
Larry: [00:39:31] Well one I would say, and what’s interesting is very few students or individuals go to college to become a development officer. It’s a field that I didn’t even know about when I graduated from University of Texas. But I would say it’s a very healthy industry and a lot of fun. But if I had to go back in time and say, “Well Larry, instead of banking why don’t you into development,” which I will say, those skill sets are very transferable, but I would say really work on your writing skills. Also you need to really work on your manners, and diplomacy, culture. I would probably have taken a few more art appreciation classes and music appreciation, because you need to be cultured. Because that’s where the foundation trustees usually are hanging out is at the opera or at a symphony because these are people who have been successful or blessed and they enjoy good entertainment like a symphony, a ballet, something to do with the arts. And then also they’re going to enjoy being involved where someone’s helping the poor, the sick, doing something that has impact on the community. And probably one of the best things I did was, when I graduated from college was, the first year I went out and started volunteering. And I did it because I enjoyed doing it. But that turned into something that really benefitted me over the thirty nine years of banking in that every year I would volunteer for one or two not for profits. And through that I kind of developed these skill sets that are needed and would always volunteer for different parts of the organization, and of course as a banker they always wanted me to do the Finance Committee or Audit Committee, to which I served a few times like that. But I started stretching into the programs, special events, and the other areas which then gave me a full range of experience, plus it was a lot of fun, and I met a ton of people and it helped my career but also helped my development..my personal development. But I would say being a development officer, especially, there’s so many not for profits and foundations that it’s a great career choice, but if you choose that you need to be, especially in today, you gotta be very computer literate, you gotta be very organized, also you’ve gotta work on your personal behavior as far as being able to socialize well; you gotta enjoy galas and luncheons. But there’s an art to that and a lot of people who have not developed the skill sets necessary will not be as successful in that you’ve got to be able to be conversational, you gotta be able to have some background, and you’ve got to prove yourself.
Andrew: [00:42:51] I think those are great and I agree with all of them. I think that there is an art to this line of work but there’s also some pretty hard and fast guidelines and foundation that you have to be able to do in order to be successful as a fundraiser.
Larry: [00:43:04] Yeah and I would highly recommend if someone wants to go in this line of business, because I do know as a career choice you can make substantial money being a successful fundraiser as either working for a not for profit, a charity, hospital, or being a consultant and having multiple clients. At the MS Society we used to have this one consultant that had the logistics bible, which was like 2,000 pages, but she did it for 20 years and that was her main client. Well she became invaluable to the organization, but I still remember she would work all year long making sure all those little logistics were in place for a successful bike ride.
Andrew: [00:43:55] Well yeah I mean now you look at the MS 150 and just the logistics of that alone for 15 what is it 15,000 bikers now?
Larry: [00:44:03] Well yeah they kept it at 13,000, but I was there from ’95 to 2007 when it went from 2 million to 18 million. And so watched it grow.
Andrew: [00:44:14] (Man. What an impact!) Dollars raised you mean…
Larry: [00:44:15] Yeah, gross dollars. And so I watched it happen, but that’s the kind of thing…
Andrew: [00:44:19] Did you ever ride in the race?
Larry: [00:44:21] Twice. It’s easier to ride it than to work it. And…
Andrew: [00:44:24] (I believe it.) As long as you stay out of the way of the people that are zooming by on your left.
Larry: [00:44:29] I did get embarrassed thoroughly by having a ninety five year old man holler at me saying, “On your left!” As he passed me.
Andrew: [00:44:39] Going up a hill no doubt. I’m sure.
Larry: [00:44:40] Probably. And then I had a seven year old right behind him saying, “On your left!” and as I was chugging along.
Andrew: [00:44:47] I love that story though. That’s great that you did it. I did it in 2012 and that may be the only time I ever do it. It was 13,000 bikers and it’s just insane. I mean, amazing experience and amazing impact for sure.
Larry: [00:45:02] So I asked…Everybody came down, they flew in from all over the world to find out, how are they doing it? How are they doing it? And then so with the MS 150 I finally, one time I heard a gentleman say to me says, “It lets ordinary people be heroic.” And I said, “There’s the magic formula.”
Andrew: [00:45:19] Real short funny story. And I was living in Columbus, Ohio a couple years ago. One of the organizations, the cancer hospital, they wanted to start a bike ride of their own and so they did and they called it the Peloton. They knew, everybody said, “This is probably going to take good five six seven years for you to really start making any money” and the CEO of the hospital said, “Nah, I’m not willing to wait that long.” So he what he could he went out and he found some key lead sponsors, they put up big money, and for the first one he got Lance Armstrong to come out. And of course you know this is in two thousand I guess 2009/2010. So all the promotion leading up to it was, “Bike with Lance! Come do the ride with Lance!” And so you had all these people that were very skilled and some people that were not but they got in. Well, Lance Armstrong pulled up in his entourage of black Suburbans, pulled up, he got out of the car, he waved at the crowd, hopped on his bike, and boom he was gone. Nobody could catch him. And I mean he proved, you know he’s the greatest biker at the time in the world at the time. And that was everybody’s riding with Lance Armstrong experience. Has nothing to do with our conversation here. But I just always thought that was a funny story.
Larry: [00:46:26] One thing I would say that being involved with this, one, you make good friends, two, you have lots of great stories, like that one.
Andrew: [00:46:34] Right. Exactly.
Larry: [00:46:34] And you can go…And so it is a colorful career. And also it’s rewarding when you’re able to put together fundraising for putting together cancer treatments, or helping the sick, or changing lives…the Big buzzword now in the St. Vincent de Paul Society is “systemic change” which we fully endorse here in that it’s basically saying let’s lift people out of poverty and help them get their first job or get a better, sometimes they need a car, sometimes they need health care, child care. But go in there and you accompany. That’s another word from Pope Francis. But you’ve got to get, different than just running a program, you’ve got to go in and actually get to know and help individuals better their lives. And so I have personally become very passionate about, let’s call it, restoring the American dream. Which my parents grew up in northeast Mississippi. They were during the Depression. They had nothing. They had of course worked two jobs and all this to get through college but they kept pushing forward and then of course I went to college. There was no doubt in my mind…they were like, “You’re going.” And so pushed hard and things…all of a sudden you have opportunities. And so what I want to do here at Scanlan is make sure that all the grants that we make has that in the background, is that we’re making things better, we’re helping people. I have a sister in law who’s had MS for 40 years, so we need to make her comfortable and make sure that she receives faith based care. And she’s such a prayer warrior so there’s those situations, we take care of the sick. And then we help the poor become less poor and try to make it where they’re no longer poor. Recently I befriended a man who is homeless and with some effort, he’s now driving a truck making $75,000 a year. Those are the kind of stories that you want to happen and which changes lives. You’re able to help those who need a hand up and then also for those that are situations where you need to help them, whether they’re with an illness or whatever is to help them better their condition as best you can.
Andrew: [00:49:20] I think that’s great. I love that what you’re doing here and what Scanlan Foundation is doing still honoring the legacy and the hopes and the dreams of the founders, who wanted to make a difference, transform at his time, the city into a vibrant community where people could make it on their own. And now the foundation is doing the same thing, just different life stage of the community here in Houston and in Texas but still trying to make a difference and make it a better place for everyone.
Larry: [00:49:49] Yeah and I made a point to kind of deep dive into the history so that I can get in tune with who they were and so by doing that I feel it’s kind of almost like if they were here today looking at these grant requests, what would they do? And so I consider that when I look at a grant request.
Andrew: [00:50:11] I think that’s awesome. That’s really great. So now I want to switch to our lightning round, our last five questions that we ask all of our guests. And so Larry, and I want to ask you these as if you, I know you said you were in develop…you’ve been in development your whole life, more or less with banking, and then so I’ll ask you kind of the same questions that I ask everybody else. So if you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any point in history what would it be?
Larry: [00:50:36] Well, I would have to say, what I’m doing right now. I mean this is a job that I would pay to do. And I think that in hindsight, I looked at my resume a recently and I said,or my bio, and I said, “I literally was trained for this and I love it.” It’s exhilarating to wake up each morning and be able to embrace helping you know taking Jesus Christ and what He stood for and His teachings and His life and try to transport that out. So I would say I would not trade anything for this. I’ve had opportunities to like go back into banking, 10 times the salary and I would like, “No. I’m staying here.”
Andrew: [00:51:26] That’s great. I love that. And I’m going to deviate from our lightning round real quick and dive into that question. You brought up a point that I want to ask you about. So a lot of organizations in the Catholic Church are saying, “Is now a good time for us to be fundraising?” Because there’s a lot of noise there’s a lot of sort of the scandal of the Church has made people wary of, “Are funders going to keep supporting Catholic organizations?” Has that been a question that you and your board have even discussed? Have people asked you that question? You as a major funder of Catholic organizations, has any of the scandal of the last year affected your approach to this at all?
Larry: [00:52:05] My answer is that the people I know have doubled down. We’re definitely horrified by some of the disclosures, of course. I personally have worked on my own personal holiness. I’ve been to adoration in the past six months more than I have in my lifetime. My prayer life is stronger than ever. I’m making a point to intensify relationships with everyone I know and also to try to lead a life that is exemplary, which is not always easy but that’s where I’m going to be. I want to make it where I am an example to others and I’ve even organized a men’s group that’s known as the Holy League where we’re trying to live a good and holy life. So I think from a big picture I’m seeing nothing but working harder. I know the lay leadership are all amping up. The ones I know are working harder. I think that as this cleansing of the Church takes place it is up to…I mean it’s our Church too. So I’m saying that we, the lay leaders, it’s up to us to work harder to maintain and build for the future because, as my granddaughter was born 10 days ago, what kind of Church, what kind of society, what kind of culture do I want to leave her 18 years from now? So if we all just sit on the sideline and look at each other, and I’ve got some friends who are way too obsessed with news and reading the newspapers, and I am with them on that but I’m also, instead of just reading the newspaper, I’m trying to make things better than ever.
Andrew: [00:54:03] Yeah absolutely. And I’ve heard the same thing from many other people that I’ve asked the same question too. And this will be very encouraging for one of our… We had a listener e-mail this morning actually in Australia and talking about having the needs at their organization, their diocese I believe, has needs that they are looking for a capital campaign in the future and they have great support already but there’s a fear among the staff of, “Is now the right time to launch into a program like that?” And so anyways for him it sounds like being open, being honest, being forthright as a fundraiser is the first step and seeking holiness. And then the second step is to invite people into his organization there, your organization in a way that they can make a difference and make the church a place of holiness for years.
Larry: [00:54:52] I would say that there probably will be impact, probably is impact. But I would say that it’s up to them to work harder, to be transparent, to make sure that the staff is living their lives in a way that’s exemplary. But the needs are there. Our world needs a lot of things and what we’re trying to do is build Heaven on Earth for everybody. And so we’re trying to lead everyone to Heaven. In so doing there’s just a lot of people with a lot of needs and it’s up to us to make sure that we tell our stories. But at the same time we live our lives that everyone would say, “I’m going to give to them.”
Andrew: [00:55:36] Great. I appreciate that. And we’re going to set a record for the longest lightning round, I apologize for that, but that was a good point. And I wanted to ask you that while I had the chance. Second question, if you could get a donor meeting with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be with?
Larry: [00:55:49] Wow…I’m usually not at a loss but you know…There was a gentleman by the name of David Bentliff that I met early in my career and he was…he drove a Buick. He was a billionaire. His name is on one of the medical center buildings down there. But he was a very humble man. Had been very blessed. Was obviously a very good businessman. I remember he had an extremely large portfolio and this was 40 years ago. But I have emulated some of his characteristics in that he had a fairly, it was nice but a simple house. But he used his means to help others. And so I would probably want to have another lunch with him.
Andrew: [00:56:40] That’s great. I love that. And after our conversation today, number one on my list is Tim Scanlan.
Larry: [00:56:45] Oh. Well thank you…I should have thought of that one.
Andrew: [00:56:49] That’s alright.
Larry: [00:56:50] I lived with him almost.
Andrew: [00:56:52] I was gonna say you probably know him by doing as much research…
Larry: [00:56:55] You’re right, I would probably go and want to talk to him. That’s a good one. Thank you.
Andrew: [00:56:58] I’m going to put that on my lis nowt. Third question, is there enough money out there for every organization that’s doing good work?
Larry: [00:57:05] Probably not, in that there’s a finite money. So it’s a little bit…You’ve got to have a good organization, good governance, good budget, good all of that and you’ve got to get people to see what you’re doing, know what you’re doing because reputation and good works is everything. But not every not for profit survives. And so I think that it’s up to, like any business, you’ve got to run it like a business.
Andrew: [00:57:38] Great advice. Fourth question, if you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice what would it be?
Larry: [00:57:45] That’s an easy one. I’ve done the back to the future Biff, who used it for bad, but you know the movie where he goes back in the car and…So I’ve played that game a little bit with, “If you had 30 minutes with your 18 year old self, what would you say? And I would probably say…I’m a convert…I Would probably say, “Mary younger. Have a larger family. And join the Catholic Church at 18 years old instead of 50 and embrace your faith. I’ve really adopted a lot of the credo of the FOCUS missionaries, in that I love their lifestyle. It took me a while. It’s kind of like, I got to Texas as soon as I could. I just think that, I heard a report that said that the kids that were going to campus ministry at a school, at the college they were happier, made better grades were more successful, more content, which made their parents happier. And so they got a new car because they got rewarded. And life is tough and the world can be cruel and you just don’t need to complicate your life with all the other things that are available these days that can get you really down or a trail that’s pretty dark.
Andrew: [00:59:13] Absolutely. And last question, Who are three people who have most influenced your growth as a professional?
Larry: [00:59:21] Well,, I would say Coach Tanner my seventh grade math teacher, who was hard but he was fair. I mean I worked very hard to get a B…B plus in his class, but that foundation propelled me all the way through college. And so I had just this excellent, tough, he was my football coach and seventh grade math teacher. Next would be Harold Blackscher, who is a banker here in Houston for a career banker. And when I was just a young 20 something right out of college he was my boss. And he is the one who taught me how to be a private banker. He said, “Larry get to know your customers. Go to all the funerals. Go to all the weddings. Become a generational banker so that you’re part of their family.” And so I embraced his philosophy and he was a good churchgoer and very faithful. So course my career departed from his so right before he passed I made a point to go and sit with him and tell him what an impact he had on my life because he was a faithful banker. And not all bankers are the same. But he was one who was a very faith based banker. And then the third one would be Monsignor James Jamail, who was the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, who I would say is as close to a saint…I would call him a saint, and I’m surprised his cause hasn’t been…a file hasn’t been opened. But he was the one who helped me get from where I was, to becoming Catholic, getting married in the Catholic Church, and really helping me through that whole process and really launching me into my current life.
Andrew: [01:01:26] That’s great. Sounds like you’ve… Well I know with Mr. Blackscher you had the opportunity to go back and just say thank you to him and that’s always an opportunity we get. But what a great way to honor those people that had an impact on your life. Last question that I have for you is that I know that a big passion of yours is art. And you’ve talked about it a little bit here. But tell us about some of the work that you’re doing in in that world.
Larry: [01:01:50] Well so, about three years ago I noticed that Catholic artists were getting little, if no recognition. And so I started reaching out to get to know them. And what I discovered was this whole universe of great people doing great work. And so I started a podcast and I couldn’t even spell podcast two years ago. So I did, what was then called houstonalive.org, which is now, as of this week called Catholicartsrevolution.org. Basically I started just meeting so the horsepower that’s happened is I met my first Catholic poet. Through this I met seven more and introduced them to each other. They now meet monthly. They have now created the Houston Catholic Poets Society. They now are also sponsoring poetry contests and also Catholic Writers Camp at University of St. Thomas. And that’s just poetry. So then uncovering just a number of dancers and then you’ve got sacred music which is lighting up everywhere. We’re definitely on a counter reformation in the Catholic arts community.
Andrew: [01:03:09] That’s great. Yeah. And I love that you’re doing that and having that impact already and that’s even outside of your work just with Scanlan. That’s just you, Larry Massey. Yeah that’s great.
Larry: [01:03:16] That’s just a person passion.
Andrew: [01:03:20] Larry I really do appreciate you taking the time to sit down. I know you’ve got a lot of things going on and a lot of irons in the fire. And congratulations on your new grandbaby, by the way. And I think one of the takeaways for me is just that idea, like I said, as a fund-raiser we think, and we can apply this to anybody but, we think that being on the other side of the table is easy. Right. People take you to lunch. People show up. You read a couple of proposals. You write a couple of checks. And I love that you said, “Well, Andrew, it would be easy if you don’t care.” And this conversation has really illustrated to me how much you and how much the good folks of Scanlan care about affecting the church and making an impact in the state of Texas. And I started this by saying your reach goes outside of the state of Texas, no question your impact–the work that you’ve done here– has national and worldwide implications. And I just appreciate all the work that you put into making that possible.
Larry: [01:04:16] Well thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed our conversation.
Andrew: [01:04:19] Good. And if people want to get a hold of you, you said you have a new website for Scanlan Foundation.
Larry: [01:04:24] Scanlanfoundation.org.
Andrew: [01:04:24] Great. Well check him out there. That’s Larry Massey. And thank you very much for being here. Hope you took something away from this conversation. I know that I did. Have a great day and God bless.