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Donor Relations

Craig, NJ LEEP’s Executive Director, approached Catchafire in its seventh year of operation in search of a seasoned fundraising professional or a professional fluent in the language, thoughts and actions of high net-worth individuals.

The challenge

NJ LEEP has developed strong relationships with several foundations, as well as with many corporate partners. However, in order to take their organization to the next level and offer college bound access to more urban high school students, it is clear that NJ LEEP has to develop funding relationships with high net worth individuals, and to gain access to professionals in the New York metropolitan area in the areas of hedge fund management and finance. Craig needs an outsider’s eyes and expertise to help him successfully meet these goals.


  • Receive training on the tactics necessary to gain access to functions and social circles of high net worth individuals, as well as successful tactics in messaging NJ LEEP's mission in a manner to catch their interest
  • Increase the level of giving from high worth individuals to support NJ LEEP

The match

  • Craig lists a Donor Relations project
  • Kristin, a Stewardship Coordinator at Duke University applies for project
  • After the two-way interview call, Craig and Kristin accept the match

“I have a background in public policy and K-12 education so the educational piece that NJ LEEP works on was interesting. I was also in development so I thought I could combine two things that I enjoy doing at the same time.”
- Kristin

The solution

  • Craig and Kristin meet to discuss current donor relations strategies including levels of giving, method and frequency of communication, acknowledgement, retention and attrition rates as well as the struggling points
  • Craig explains that they are struggling with donor commitment on their board and are unsure how to approach newer board members with a fundraising ask
  • Kristin assesses fundraising goals, available staff resources and available budget for Donor Relations program
  • Craig and Kristin discuss strategies for how to approach newer board members and decide to focus on securing an anchor donor (a donor that not only pledges a certain amount of funds but who will also match the gifts of others).
  • Kristin delivers first draft of a proposal for this anchor donor
  • Craig provides feedback, which is incorporated
  • Kristin delivers the final draft and Craig presents to the anchor donor

The Result

With Kristin’s advisement, NJ LEEP secured their first six figure gift!

“The project has allowed us to increase our individual giving this year by $300,000. We have been able to secure our first six figure gift, and we were able to build a successful strategy using that major gift as stimulus. We were also able to develop a coherent year long-giving strategy that tied into our Gala, and thus $150,000 of the individual giving increase was given as Gala pledges.”
- Craig

The Impact

“It was invaluable to obtain guidance in major gift procurement from a development professional at Duke University who has cultivated relationships leading to many major gifts. Kristin was available, supportive, and knowledgeable. She shared major gift proposals with NJ LEEP that served as templates for successful major gift proposals we used this year. Kristin was also a wonderful thought partner, and really encouraged us to not think of donors in isolation, but instead to think of donors as part of a system of giving. Kristin was a major asset in NJ LEEP's development success in 2013-14.”
- Craig

“For me personally, its great to see that some of the theories that we work with in development really work. It solidifies why I love development because its all about relationships and understanding people! It is great knowing that NJ LEEP is financially in a better place as a result of that gift and the board members can see how big of an impact they can have.”
- Kristin

Kristin’s 40 hour project saved NJ LEEP $6,000.

The Organization
NJ LEEP empowers urban youth from underserved neighborhoods in urban New Jersey to perform at high academic levels by building skills through law-related, mathematic, and other educational programs, developing the habits necessary for lasting success and community leadership, and offering exposure to role models who have achieved academic and professional success.
The Volunteer
Kristin has been very active in the public policy/non-profit sector for close to seven years and is currently a Stewardship Coordinator at Duke University. Her Sophomore year in college she was introduced to the world of public policy, particularly education policy, and fell in love. Ever since she’s been working hard to ensure she’s constantly aiding organizations that focus on education. In February 2013 she began the process of creating a local chapter of Active 20-30 Club. Active 20-30 is a national non-profit membership organization that is great for networking, volunteer work and expanding your social groups.