General Fundraising

Wisconsin Lutheran College
A leading Wisconsin higher education institution acts resolutely on the promising results of a feasibility study

McDonald Schaefer was engaged by the leadership of Wisconsin Lutheran College to conduct a campaign feasibility study. Over a four-month period, fifty-two alumni, parents, and current and past board members were visited and interviewed. As a result of this study, the College resolved to move immediately into planning for a comprehensive capital campaign that will address needs for facilities, endowment, programs and faculty development. The results of the study proved very helpful for the College, especially in terms of how those who were interviewed felt listened to and embraced. The study itself actively cultivated prospective donors in new and authentic ways.


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Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin
Strengthened gift support by diversifying strategies

A decades-old international organization, Variety relied almost entirely on special event fundraisers and raffle ticket sales to support its mission to help children with mobility challenges. Changing entrenched traditions was a challenge for a new executive director working with some reluctant-to-change board directors. McDonald Schaefer began by conducting a development assessment, the findings of which helped identify weaknesses in the organizational structure that would need to be addressed before proceeding with a fully diversified funding strategy. Among the changes that made a difference were recruiting board directors with prior board experience, hiring a development director, and finally, creating a major and planned gifts program from the ground up.

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Wisconsin Lutheran Institutional Ministries
A comprehensive but under-performing development program impedes ministry growth until different tactics are employed

A development program assessment surfaced the weaknesses in fundraising efforts for this 100-year old organization. With McDonald Schaefer’s help, the organization was able to correct this organizational deficiency, crafting a new, broad-reaching plan that enhanced board development, communications, direct mail, major gifts, planned giving and donor recognition. On McDonald Schaefer’s recommendations, donors responded to staff visits, personalized appeals and designated giving options. A Development Committee of the board met regularly to work through an annual plan that they had helped craft, and performance increased in all areas.

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The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Large downtown parish expands non-traditional giving to manage care of its historical facility and the expenses of being the mother church of the Milwaukee Archdiocese

A McDonald Schaefer development assessment revealed parish members’ impressions of regular giving opportunities and explored their interests in different ways to participate. In addition, the study helped uncover options for outside funding for outreach ministries. With McDonald Schaefer’s help, a Development Committee was recruited, and major gift prospects for current and deferred giving began to be identified and cultivated. Customized appeals were created for affinity groups such as patrons of the music programs. In just one year, giving activity, funding sources and revenue increased.

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Redemptorist Retreat Center
A Catholic retreat center uses donor-centered fundraising to achieve annual goals

Located in a private, natural setting just 30 minutes from Milwaukee, this lovely, modern retreat center faced diminished gift revenue due to a declining number of patrons. McDonald Schaefer recommended a more robust annual development program consisting of increased mailings, events and post-retreat appeals. A regular newsletter and retreat program mailings were established to effectively communicate program opportunities and, over the course of a year, percentage response, gift size and frequency all increased. Ultimately, a course of cultivation tactics initiated to keep major donors involved added long-term value to this unique organization’s development efforts.

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Urban Day School
A 45-year old central city K4-8th grade charter school seeks support in order to serve families in poverty

Grants and gifts from private sources are essential to fill the gap between public funding and the true cost of educating youngsters in an underserved Milwaukee neighborhood. McDonald Schaefer enjoyed a long partnership with Urban Day School that included a $1 million capital campaign and other annual and major gifts projects focused on reconnecting the school to past supporters and introducing its mission to new prospective donors and community partners. Efforts were assisted by a board of trustees willing to open doors to their networks and comfortable participating in highly personalized, customized approaches. McDonald Schaefer’s emphasis on identifying and cultivating individual donors played a critical role in the school’s success.

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