1996 to 1997
During these two action-packed years, I provided full-time, hands-on capital campaign assistance to the Dallas Zoological Society, orchestrating a capital campaign under the outstanding (courageous) leadership of volunteers Mary McDermott Cook, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, and the late Edgar A. Robinson, Exxon Corporation (now ExxonMobil). Then-Mayor of Dallas Ron Kirk served as honorary campaign chairman. The Dallas Zoo is a city-run institution; I worked for the Zoo’s nonprofit support group, DZS.
A consultant from a large firm had been hired to assist DZS at the start, but was paid off and relieved of duties because I was able to handle all required work. I received an award for excellence and a standing ovation from the Board of Trustees at the conclusion of my two years of work, at which point $8,000,000 had been received and pledged, and a significant number of campaign prospects had been identified for the organization going forward.
Among the donors with whom I worked specifically were, in order of size of gift, The Meadows Foundation, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Crystal Charity Ball, The Kresge Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, J. C. Penney Corporation, A. H. Belo Corporation Foundation, The Rosewood Corporation, O’Donnell Foundation, Boeckman Family Foundation and others.
I was honored when DZS committee member and legendary Dallas fundraiser, the late Charles C. Sprague, told me I was the best at running a major gift campaign of anyone he had ever seen. This was the beginning of my freelance major gift fundraising career.
To read more about my experiences, follow the links to:
- Asking for Donations | The Best Laid Plans
- Gadgets Are the Root of All Evil? | Children and Nature
- Taking a Step Back Will Lead You Forward
Other Late Work in Dallas
Additional brief consulting activities were subsequently undertaken in Dallas with such organizations as the Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas, and when briefly with The Dini Partners, I worked with the Dallas Urban League (now the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas), American Red Cross of Dallas, The Episcopal School of Dallas, The Greenhill School, the Dallas Arboretum and a few others.
These assignments involved advanced prospect research, campaign organization, strategy development, and grant and case statement writing, skills sorely lacking at the time in development staffing in North Texas. I resigned from The Dini Partners after six months, and after discovering that I preferred my independence. In hindsight, the skills I had to offer then were in high demand, and I was assigned to too many nonprofits at once! Frankly, large consulting companies often also rely on preset formats, and I have discovered one size does not fit all. In this way, I am definitely a “boutique” independent fundraising contractor, handling one nonprofit at a time, as their needs require. This ensures long term success, and my mantra is always to leave my nonprofit clients in better shape than when I began working with them.
Following this experience, and on my own initiative and in consultation with (and with the support of) the late Edgar A. Robinson, Treasurer of ExxonMobil, I helped open a Dallas satellite office for a national environmental nonprofit that I would ultimately find to be highly unethical and abusive. Ultimately, I reported the organization fully to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (in person and in writing), and to this day, I believe they should be shut down. It is rare for me to say such a thing. Even when I disagree with the leadership of the nonprofit organizations with which I work, I rarely think their nonprofit should be closed.
To read more positive notes about my Dallas freelance experiences, follow the link:
1992 to 1996
To read about my experiences during this time, follow the links to read more on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog:
- A Brief Account | A Fortune 500 CEO, Two Kittens and “Asking”
- A Brief Account | George Plimpton
- Fabio | Or, Location Can Make or Break It
- A Special Event | An Environmental Breakthrough for Texas
During my tenure at Texas Nature Conservancy (the Texas chapter of the national nonprofit organization), I helped create the first Corporate Conservation Leadership Luncheon, a program that has since generated millions of dollars and enhanced corporate financial support for the organization. The event has been held in other Texas cities and in other states. The first two events I organized in Austin and Dallas were partnerships with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
I worked as part of a team of three statewide development professionals at Texas Nature Conservancy. We focused on major gifts and related cultivation activities to support the acquisition of rare wildlife habitats in regions across Texas. My first region and training ground was South and Central Texas. The second half of my work involved moving to Dallas and opening the North Texas regional office there.
I would like to recognize Dallas volunteer Robert L. Thornton, III, without whose assistance opening the Dallas office would have been impossible. You might also enjoy reading a speech given at my request to the Dallas chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals by the late conservation champion Richard C. “Dick” Bartlett, when I lived and worked in that city during the 1990s.
The Corporate Conservation Leadership Luncheon was created with the invaluable assistance of Mike Hicks and Rob Miller of HIXO. I received an award for excellence from the Conservancy for work on this and other activities.
1992 and Earlier
To read more about these and other early experiences, follow the link to the following articles on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog:
- A Brief Account | The CEO of American Airlines and His Western Art Collection (during my graduate school years, not long before I would become a development professional)
- Development as a Profession | Lots of Zeros
- Listening to Donors and “Serendipity” Happens
- Development as a Profession | Mentoring and “Real World” Fundraising
- Ph.D.s and Fundraising
- Development as a Profession | Trust Your Instincts | Early Career Lessons
- Development as a Profession | You and the Donor
Quick links for my biographical pages:
Dallas skyline image is courtesy of Adobe Spark.