We’re working with all different kinds of institutions at EverTrue, from Higher Ed rockstars like Colgate University to Pre-K through grade 9 schools like Fenn School in Concord, MA. All of them have at least one thing in common: building relationships is at the core of what they do. And it’s at the core of what we do here at EverTrue, too with both our GivingTree software and our Community app.
Martha Hargrove, a leadership gift officer at Albuquerque Academy, has been extremely successful in the short amount of time she’s been in advancement. In the past month and a half, she’s shared considerable wins, and I decided to pick her brain to find out how she’s doing it.
MN: Hey Martha, thanks for speaking with me! Tell me a little about yourself pre-Albuquerque Academy.
MH: After attending public schools in Dallas, I got a degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. While I was a student, I started working in the music industry, initially focusing on promotion, publicity, and booking. I gained my first nonprofit experience back in Dallas managing a small baroque orchestra. I missed rock ’n’ roll almost immediately, so I moved to New York City, where I worked full time in music management and earned a Master’s degree from NYU. After completing my second degree, I began to think seriously about making a career move that would allow me to have a positive impact on the world. My uncle Brian introduced me to (my now boss) Jeff and Albuquerque Academy around that time. Education is central to the health and hope of our nation and a personal priority. So…here I am! It was a natural fit, and the right moment to make a change.
MN: How long have you been at Albuquerque Academy?
MH: I’ve worked with Academy for a year and a half.
MN: And what made you accept the lifestyle change…New York City to New Mexico?!
MH: I was really stressed in the City and worked many late nights. New Mexico is one of the most impoverished states, and education is central to change—how amazing to be a part of that mission! It’s also the nicest climate I’ve ever experienced, and the landscape moves me on a root level. It’s the Land of Enchantment, you know…
MN: What’s the most exciting part of what you do at Albuquerque?
MH: Helping to grow our donor base is what excites me on a day-to-day basis because it’s easy to see the material effect of my work. More widely though, I’m thrilled and honored to be part of the institution’s first capital campaign.
MN: What does a typical day look like for you when you’re not on the road?
MH: 70% of my day is planning and researching, and the other 30% is spent on existing office projects. When I’m checking email and my calendar and notice that there are empty days in the coming week, I’m always looking to book them. If I have to make a meeting last-minute, I’ll re-engage a warmer prospect, but if I have more time to arrange a meeting, I pull up GivingTree and start finding new people to engage.
MN: Do you use other tools in addition to GivingTree?
MH: We use Target Analytics and Senior Systems, which have lists we’ve already built and stored information (event attendance, etc.). I know there are people missing on these lists, and that’s when I turn to GivingTree. For example, I’m headed to Seattle in a few weeks, and GivingTree helped me identify four people who have not been cultivated, but all four are really good prospects.
MN: What makes a really good prospect?
MH: A really good prospect is someone who has shown they have both the capacity and propensity to give. This means they make regular gifts to the Annual Fund, attend events, and now with GivingTree, we can see if they engage with us on Facebook. Facebook engagement is like the cherry on top because I know they’ll be excited to talk to me about something going on at the school right now.
MN: What advice would you give to other fundraisers?
MH: It can be intimidating to call someone who you feel is wiser, smarter, more successful, etc., especially if you don’t know the person. It’s not like you’re asking them on a date (even though it can sometimes feel that way). We have a purpose, and that purpose is tied to the school’s mission. If I remember my purpose every step of the way, I’m going to feel good about the interaction. When a person agrees to an appointment, they’ve validated my purpose.
Most of the time people want to talk to me; they’re flattered to receive personal attention. This kind of response helps me go after the right prospects — the ones who want to give. That’s second. Spend time with people who show you they want to give. I keep in mind that there can be a million different asks, and those asks aren’t necessarily monetary. An alternate email address, a close friend’s telephone number, or a volunteer job all serve the school and help with the engagement bottom line. I feel successful knowing that I walked away with something tangible, something that will ultimately support our mission.