Centuries of experience have helped the Order of Malta create the key to fundraising success with amazing results, including million dollar gifts and 100% donor retention.
Lisa Simpson, CEO of the Order’s worldwide fundraising effort known as The Global Fund for Forgotten People, shares how they have developed a worldwide network of "envoys." Find the factors of this model that can be implemented within your organization.
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Welcome to"Know More. Raise More." the podcast for fundraising professionals, where we share firsthand stories from donors and gift officers who have real relationships working together to change the world for good. I'm your host Jennifer Trammell. On the podcast today we're going back way back to an organization with roots in the Middle Ages, the Order of Malta. Lisa Simpson, CEO of the Order's worldwide fundraising effort known as the Global Fund for Forgotten People, is here today to share their unique model for donor engagement. They even have a unique name they call their donors, "envoys." And this is a level of donor engagement like you've never seen before. Seven figure giving, 100% retention and traveling the globe to put their unique talents to work for the sick, for the poor, for the Forgotten. Lisa's on the West Coast. I'm on the East Coast and envoy Gavin Boyle joins us from London, modernizing a centuries old organization, fundraising across countries and doing good around the globe. That's today on "Know More. Raise More.""Know More. Raise More." the podcast for fundraising professionals is brought to you by Insightful. Insightful helps improve engagement between nonprofit organizations and donors. We know connecting with donors is hard, insightful, helps fundraisers like you better know your donors. So you can raise more money, advance your mission and do more good in the world. Lisa, Gavin, welcome to no more, raise more the podcast for fundraising professionals.Lisa Simpson:
Wonderful to meet you, Jennifer. Nice to be together.Jennifer Trammell:
And thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and share your story. Lisa, let's start by learning about the fun for forgotten people and really the Order of Malta, because most organizations do not have a history nearly as extensive as yours.Lisa Simpson:
I'm happy to talk about it. I'm always happy to talk about both the order and the Global Fund for forgotten people. I will start with the Sovereign Order of Malta, which is a 900 year old humanitarian organization. It's quite a special creature, it has a very special nature really goes back to even doing work during the Middle Ages. That's right. There was a a man called for our fraud. Gerard he traveled from Europe in about 1100, to the to the Middle East on pilgrimage as was very much the tradition amongst noble families of that time, he found himself in Bethlehem where there was a tremendous need, there was all sorts of people there who had come on pilgrimages from all over the world, and would would in their life, in in this place far from home with absolutely no medical care, he set up a hospital. And in doing so, it began as a very small effort. And as he began to attend to people and their medical needs, his reputation grew and people were drawn to him and wanted to work in the same way with this charism for caring with great love and great tenderness for these people who are extremely ill. And he established a number of practices that are still used today in medicines. And he really adopted these practices from all different cultures. And today, that's very much what the Order of Malta is about caring for everyone, regardless of culture, religion, background circumstance, and doing so in an extremely sensitive and dignified way. Beyond being a humanitarian organization. It's also a lay religious order, and a sovereign subject of international law. And what that means and what that affords us is the opportunity to work with countries all over the world. There's over 120 countries that recognize the Order of Malta as a sovereign and consequently we have the chance to be deeply involved and embedded in countries that have very severe problems that in many cases, they need partnerships to handle. And those partnerships extend to not only humanitarian organizations, but with, with our diplomatic channel, who's often able to gain global support outside the country for very desperate situations, whether that might be in Uganda, or Cote d'Ivoire, or Haiti, or Cuba, or Albania, these are examples of places that we have a diplomatic relationship, it is probably the most remarkable organization no one's ever heard of. And even amongst those who have heard of it, what they don't understand is the scale and the scope of the work we do. And that's really where the Global Fund comes in.Jennifer Trammell:
So let's start to understand more of that work. What does the fund do?Lisa Simpson:
The fund raises money for all of the work of the Order of Malta throughout the world, at the core of our work is this desire to serve the sick and the poor in the order, we refer to them as our Lord's the sick and the poor, always keeping in the forefront, that that we are at their service that that we put their needs and their circumstance ahead of ourselves, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to travel throughout the world. And to see the this approach manifest wherever I go, whether it's in the Philippines, or in Seoul, Korea, or in Albania, or Lithuania. The circumstances are very different, what what people are doing on the field can be quite different. But the way in which they do this is completely uniform. Because of this, I think 900 year old tradition that seems to be maintained in in everything we do. And that certainly extends through those that are physically involved with the work, and very much to those who are financially supporting that work throughout the world.Jennifer Trammell:
Gavin, let's bring you into the conversation here. Tell us how you came to know the order and why you wanted to get involved.Gavin Boyle:
It was something sort of a bit of happenstance really, in the first instance, I actually I was at a dinner where Lisa gave a presentation that included, you know, a number of the elements he's just walked through in terms of the the nature of the work at the scale of the work, and some of the unique characteristics of the order. And, and also, it was at the early stages of the of the initiative of the forgotten people. And it was a time in my life or career where I had moved from being more focused on UK and European issues, in my work life to being more having global responsibilities. And so I was also looking for some of some philanthropic threads that could mirror that, in a sense, it is really quite moving to see how, whether it's in Lebanon or in an old person's home in France, there is this spirit of care that was brought to the work, which was, which was very compelling. So after a short period of getting to know some of the work on the ground, it was relatively easy for me to to make the step into getting more significantly involved.Jennifer Trammell:
You have a unique setup with donors that really creates this partnership. You call that the end, boy, will you walk us through what does that mean to be an envoy? And how do you really engage your donors with the organization on a deeper level, the Global Fund for forgotten people is really the brainchild of a lot of highly intelligent people who wereLisa Simpson:
really trying to come up with a way to engage global support. Before the Global Fund for forgotten people, there was no way for a donor to give to the global order, they could give to a project in a country or they could give to a hospital or they could give to the patrimony of the order, but they couldn't give to the work and leverage the the the entire system. So we gave a lot of thought to putting up you know, a legal structure 501 C three in the United States and a registered charity in the UK and discovered how we could accept donations in any denomination that was tax efficient. transparant up to really modern standards, which was the first and important step because it hadn't existed before. But very importantly, we didn't just want to go to people with the capacity to give major gifts, we wanted to engage them in the work, and not only in the work itself, but to try to persuade them of the importance of opening their own networks, to understanding further about the work and understanding further about this opportunity for leveraging an entire system to fulfill their own philanthropic objectives. So Gavin, how has that played out personally for you? And what does it mean to be an envoy, the forgotten people, was a very powerfulGavin Boyle:
hook, in a sense, there was a there was a challenge and a resonance in it at the same time, because there are people who are many, many of us do a number of different philanthropic things of different scales, and we go through a journey and we do some and then change others, or we do something smaller than someone larger scales. But there were certain areas which the challenge of the forgotten people made me realize I hadn't touched, you know, and we can, we can sometimes be comfortable that we're doing our bit, to a fair extent in certain areas. But I had done nothing for, for example, the children of prisoners, or former prisoners, it's just it just wasn't, wasn't my bag. It just wasn't something that I had actually touched. And similarly, there were areas where, you know, I think the world had forgotten some issues, you know, people with leprosy, you know, I thought leprosy was something in the Bible, for the most part, and there are people from the people with the plague, you know, you don't think that there are volunteers, you know, walking around villages in Sudan with with disinfectant hoses, you know, cleaning houses of people who've had the plague. Now, that, to me, wasn't just an incredibly challenging notion that that even happens. And there was a realization that I, you know, I had forgotten these people to some extent. And so that was, that was a big, that was a big part of this initial, you know, this initial coming together. And in a very real sense, is, it's important to be asked Lisa, give a very nice presentation at the end of a dinner I was at, which was actually from a different organization on different subject. And she was given a sort of guest talk, in the sense that after after supper, and but it was very important for someone to take that and, you know, crafted into something that is relevant to the potential donor, and then to actually ask them, and I was expecting, when Lisa came to see me a couple of weeks later that I would get my usual charity checker guides and hand over my usual charity. But the, the proposal that came was entirely different than a lot more challenging, and a lot more interesting for that. And so the notion of being an envoy was something where it was to be a to allow me access closer access into the work in a sense, and which was good for my own diligence, you know, especially if one is thinking of becoming more significantly, even significantly financially involved in the first instance of something, but also to be then a witness to the work when we go back to our to the rest of our lives. And the circles that we mix in or the policymakers we speak to or whatever it happens to be, that there's that there was a this notion of being a closer to the work often by dint of actually traveling to wherever it happens to be. And as we talked about, we've been to the Lebanon and been to Cuba and you know, various places I wouldn't otherwise have been to be able to feel close enough to things and to you know, represent why I actually I used that word witness and I think there is a little bit about signs a little bit churchy, but you know, there is that I have been there I have seen it. I can tell you how good this stuff is on the ground because I've been there. And and that when when we come back to do a fundraising dinner somewhere in London or I'm talking to some of the the young people in the in the volunteers of the order who were maybe doing stuff local or might aspire to doing some something International. It's it's very powerful. And then you become part of the leverage that I discussed earlier on. So it's so those were some of the important components of this structure of the envoy for the fund in a sense.Jennifer Trammell:
Thanks, Kevin. That's a great overview. Lisa, how successful has the envoy approach Ben for the fund.Lisa Simpson:
It was so much of an experiment. I had no idea what to expect I have a business background myself and had done a great deal of check writing for organizations who came asking, and prior to organizing the Global Fund. But I had certainly never done any fundraising myself, it evolved quite naturally. And I realized that I was so passionate about the Order of Malta. And its work that I found, I could be quite compelling, and could be put myself in situations where I was able to meet my own network, but also, as Gavin just described, meet new people, by attending dinners or being part of the community and really just identifying people who struck me as being extremely conscious of their desire to give back, you know, having been blessed with incredible careers, incredible opportunities, and really making their lives a success on so many levels, including personal wealth. I think the reason for the Global Fund success has to do with that, being able to match the desire of great people and provide them with an opera opportunity through the work of the order to realize their philanthropic goals, we tried to give our envoys a tremendous amount of attention when they want it and when they need it, but not to intrude in their lives. Otherwise, and I would say that the measure of success we've had is that we've had 100% of our envoys continue with us, we ask our invoice for a significant financial contribution. And it was never my expectation that they would exceed that, in the following years, having made this commitment made this contribution of not only a very generous financial donation, but also giving given us considerable time, I think my expectation was that they would consider that that commitment, satisfied, and that they would they would carry on with their lives, we'd have some sort of relationship going forward. But what has occurred is we've had tremendous retention of those donors. And we rely on them, not only for their continued financial support, but also extremely importantly, to continue working very directly with us in what we need both in our in our own office and on the ground in the works. Part of the actual attraction has been the fact that this is is organic, in a sense, there is a development there is a there's a journey that we're on together here. And that is to be honest part of the excitement and part of the draw of this particular shape and level of it of engagement. We're actually defining what the thing is as we go along to some extent.Gavin Boyle:
So and in terms of how that how that has felt as an envoy. It's exciting, and it's interesting and stimulating, and it's effective. So I think that that has been a great experience.Jennifer Trammell:
After the break, Gavin shares why challenging your donors is an important piece of engagement. Hey, there's a big change happening right now affecting fundraisers like you. Over the next decade, up to $70 trillion will shift from aging Baby Boomers to Millennials, and this wealth transfer. It's already underway. So are you prepared to work with millennials? Start by downloading insightful his free ebook, nine insights fundraisers need to know to prepare for millennial major donors. Just head to insightful philanthropy.com/ebook Go to insightful philanthropy.com/ebook to get the nine things you need to know about millennials from millennials. That's insightful philanthropy.com/ebook. One more thing if you're enjoying this kind of learning from fundraisers, and donors, click follow or subscribe in your podcast app. So you'll know right away when a new episode of no more raise more drops. And now back to our conversation with Lisa and Gavin.Gavin Boyle:
You know, there have been little bits of incremental change which is another thing that's interesting. For example, I'm, I'm on the board of a what is now actually a very local charity to be able to work of the order in the field of assistance for former prisoners with addiction issues, you know, that was a kind of tricky one, because I get, you know, we're all more comfortable in areas where we have some knowledge, I have done a lot of work in education, I had done a fair amount of stuff in refugee work in humanitarian work with UNICEF, and you know, other organizations, I don't know work in anything to do with either addiction or prisoner related issues. And so there was a challenge there. So that as we go along, there has been incremental challenges, it keeps the thing lively, in a sense, so keeps it, you know, dynamic.Lisa Simpson:
And I think that that is important in terms of making this a different level of engagement from, you know, buying a table at a dinner every year, I'd like to build on what Gavin just said that we have placed significant demands on those, the works on the ground, our invoice demand, so much in the way of transparency, operational professionalism, report reporting. And, as, as a result, the work on the ground has become so much better, so much stronger. In many cases, we're thinking of those demands, and we're thinking of those donors, and how they have succeeded themselves, through diligence and hard work and transparency, and, and really managing through their professional lives in such a way to place them in a position. And so we don't let any of that go to waste for, for the Order of Malta, we you know, that's really what we're drawing on. And I think giving our envoys an outlet for their charitable aspirations, and giving them this promise that we are going to live up to, and, and maintain that trust they've given us in giving us this remarkable generosity, but also by putting their name to what we're doing. I recognize that that is every bit as important as the financial commitment that they're making to to us. So what you're describing is a really thoughtful approach to stewardship that's almost guided by the envoys how do they want to be engaged? What information do they want in return? That's a great example for all of us. Gavin, let me ask what motivates you to give philanthropic Lee?Gavin Boyle:
Crikey, it's hard to enunciate that. It's unlikely I would have at the stage that I did, or maybe for some time afterwards, have stepped have contributed at the sort of level that I ended up doing, after my initial engagement with it for fun, have gotten with least in the conference. And I've done something, and I do some things around the place. And we all kind of do. But I think there maybe there's a moment where people were you sort of say, actually, I can do more, and I need to do more. And maybe some people get that from within themselves. Or it's sort of maybe it's bubbling just under the surface, but sometimes it needs brought out a little bit. And sometimes it needs someone to say actually, here's an invitation to sort of step through that door a little bit. That's pretty thing, my call it my old college called me up and said, Would you like to give 10 pounds a year? Now? I was like, Yeah, I could give you 10 pounds, or something of that order. It was it was some small one. And I said, Can I give you advice? And they said, What's that? And I said, Could you ask why don't you ask me if I give you 20 pounds or 50 pounds? The student on the other end of the phone had a script that they then had to deviate from? And and I said, Right, okay, not my we weren't able to do that. You we can do more. Okay. And so I think that that's and some organizations, I think, have to go through their own process in figuring out how do they how do they, you know, in a comfortable way, or an appropriate way, and a respectful way, and encourage their potential donors, other donors to come with them for the next stage of the journey or, you know, go to the next level of engagement. And it's sometimes I think, needs an element of challenge and an element of discomfort. We think, Oh, this is a bit more than I thought I was signing up for. I think that the the notion of giving and, and supporting people, I think a lot of us have innate at least I hope most people have innately. And the notion is how does that translate into into more significant involvement over time, and then again, after a while, it becomes self reinforcing and self perpetuating. If I can just extrapolate from what Gavin is talking about. I do think that there although everyLisa Simpson:
One of our invoice is quite unique, very unique character. And, and their and their objectives are somewhat unique. What they do all have in common as successful people is I don't think any of them have ever met a problem they didn't want to solve. So as a result, I think Gavin's point about asking is so fundamental. And, and I think that the, that the art of, of developing a relationship with a high net worth or ultra high net worth donor has to do with really initially sensitive listening, you know, really understanding the first level objectives of the donor. But then as I went gets too into conversations, just thinking creatively together, really engaging and being curious, and, and, and thinking. And being somewhat bold, I mean, I, there's, there's a few times I've struck out, you know, coming up with an idea, but I'm usually willing to take some risks and making suggestions and coming up with ideas, or placing demands asking for help, and be, you know, in a in a pretty forthright way. And I think that that has really been the the symbiosis of the relationship and, and how it, how it develops and how it strengthens over time. And I think that's what's led to the kind of success we've been able to have in, in bringing support to the works, and the and the forgotten people.Jennifer Trammell:
This has been such an incredible example of building that true, authentic and really deep relationship that's based on solving tough problems in the world. And it's really great to see how you're doing that together. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you. Let's recap the key takeaways from Lisa and Gavin. I'm going to put numbers one and two together, evolve and make it easy. If this 900 year old organization can continue to change century after century. So can you they had to create a new 21st century way to raise money around the world. That's what led to the Global Fund for forgotten people. And they had to make an easy way to support the orders work no matter the country. Ultimately, the envoy model developed, which I think we can agree has led to amazing engagement of ultra fluent donors, so evolve and make it easy. And number three, for the right kind of donor. Keep the work dynamic. Gavin shared how issuing incremental challenges and directing him to areas of work where he didn't have previous experience was highly engaging, and motivating. Number four, remember the importance of personalized stewardship. We heard how critical that is to working successfully with envoys knowing their interests, what motivates their giving, and even knowing when to make a bigger ask as Gavin shared, follow Lisa's lead to listen sensitively as you steward. And lastly, number five donors like envoys have never met a problem they didn't want to solve. So ask directly for what you need, and engage them and thinking creatively about solutions.Unknown:
Gavin and Lisa, this is a real relationship. Thanks for sharing it with us. When you better know your donors, learn their passions and truly engage them with your mission. You can raise more to keep doing good in the world together. No more raise more is brought to you by insightful. Remember for insights on Millennials from millennials? Download insightful's free eBook. Nine insights fundraisers need to know to prepare for millennial major donors. Just head to insightfulphilanthropy.com/ebook. And on the topic of asking, I have one ask for you. Who is another fundraiser or nonprofit leader you know who would enjoy this podcast? Share no more raise more with them just as soon as you're done listening today. Thanks.Jennifer Trammell:
Our next episode launches in a week since so many of you are fundraising in higher ed. We're heading back to college with an amazing turnaround story. This is an alum who left Drexel University with a bad taste in his mouth and three gift officers later, the team was able to turn this dissatisfaction into a six figureUnknown:
bequest. It's a model you can follow to join us then. Thanks for being with us today on "Know More. Raise More." I'm your host Jennifer Trammell.