Client Feedback

From: Mary Lester <lesterm@briarwoodacademy.com>
Date: Wed, May 3, 2017 at 1:54 PM
Subject: Fwd: Development Contact – McNay

It is my pleasure to share a written testimonial about my work with Linda McNay of Our Fundraising Search.

Linda was hired by Briarwood Academy to assist us in the establishment of a Development Office and to guide us in our $1.7 million Capital Campaign. As the newly hired Development Officer, I worked directly with Linda as she led us through the pre-planning stages of the campaign.  This included identifying our expansion wish list, securing cost estimates for the wish list, identifying potential lead donors, coordinating private meetings for Linda to meet with these lead donors, creating the range-of-gifts table, and creating the Case to support the campaign.  This phase was critical because it very clearly identified our goals and the projection of how much money we could raise.  (Our wish list had a price tag of $4 million. Linda’s work indicated we were more suited to a $1.7 million campaign which proved to be a very accurate projection.)

At the completion of the pre-planning/feasibility phase (this took about 8 months), Linda gave a presentation summarizing her findings and recommendations.  Based on her presentation, the Board approved the plan and we renewed our contract with Linda for the actual campaign which started in January of 2016.  We were able to reach our $1.7 million goal on schedule by Dec. of 2016.  During the year of the actual campaign, Linda provided step-by step instruction on how to organize each solicitation committee (faculty/staff, parents, alumni, etc.).  She also came to campus once per month to facilitate solicitation training, monitor our fundraising progress and identify action items for various people involved in the campaign process.  I had unlimited access to Linda via weekly phone calls and constant emails.  Further, Linda provided samples of every document we could possible need and provided assistance in customizing them for our campaign.

This is a very brief snapshot of my work with Linda. I can honestly say we would not have reached our goal without her guidance and expertise. (About 9-10 years ago a capital campaign without counsel was tried at Briarwood….to put it briefly, it didn’t work and it soured parents on the concept of a capital campaign).  Also, just because we reached our goal does not mean we didn’t make any mistakes.  We made lots of them, mostly because we did not follow her advice or did not complete the necessary steps for the campaign in the proper order. In the end, we were successful and we’ve started down the path of educating our parents on the importance of periodic expansion.

We’ve been so pleased with Linda’s work that we’re hiring her again this summer to help create our Annual Fund.

Words of advice:

  1. Hire Linda.
  2. Listen to Linda.
  3. Make sure the administration & board are in complete support of the project. Create talking points to communicate how the project will benefit the school and to address areas of concern.
  4. Keep the project quiet until you have demonstrated support – allows you to show momentum.
  5. Understand the importance of (a) finding the right people (and the right number of people) to serve on your committees, (b) identifying the right person for each “ask” (c) obtaining a signed pledge form for each reported gift as quickly as possible.
  6. As the Development Officer, make sure your responsibilities / the scope of your work are clearly spelled out in writing.
  7. It may seem like you have lots of time to get things organized & in place, but once the ball is rolling you cannot hit pause.
  8. There are lots of moving parts that will simultaneously require your attention….be careful of physical, mental & emotional drain.
  9. Provide regular communication w/ parents & other populations to keep people excited & engaged.

If you would like more detailed information, please feel free to contact me by email or by cell at 757-705-0243.

I wish you the very best!!

Mary Lester

Development Officer

Briarwood Academy

706-595-5641 (W)

757-705-0243 (C)

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“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us here at Briarwood Academy. We could not have achieved this campaign success without your expertise and guidance!”

– Clayton Parrish, Headmaster, Briarwood Academy

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“Thank you for your wisdom and advice in helping us secure these wonderful opportunities! To think that they have offered double what the best case scenario was in my mind is nothing short of awesome! It’s a great day for NCCS!”

“Linda’s years of working in the field have given her the unique ability to ask the right questions of leadership, boards and staff, and to provide the feedback that you most need.”

– Todd Clingman, Head of School, North Cobb Christian School

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“Two years ago I was privileged to hear Linda McNay present a seminar on effective fundraising. As she spoke, I found myself assessing my school’s approach to raising money. Everything we were attempting was diametrically opposed to what Linda presented, and our failure to achieve success was the result. I was determined to learn more. After the presentation, I purchased a copy of her book, Fundraising for Schools. Over the course of the same week, I read the book three times, making notes and highlighting tips and suggestions found on every page. Upon returning to school, I shared the book with my Development Director, members of the Development Committee, and members of our Board of Directors. When the book was returned, all of the pages were dog eared and the book was starting to separate from the spine. During the past year, we have been able to not only accomplish our annual giving campaign, but have done so in half the time. We are currently in the quiet time of a capital campaign in which we are following Linda’s keys to success. We feel empowered to succeed through Linda’s guidance in this book. This afternoon, I ran into Linda at another conference. I purchased a new book before our other copy is no longer legible. I highly recommend Linda and this book to all schools who are struggling to reach their fundraising potential. It will be the best professional development dollars you spend this year! Fundraising for Schools is the best reference book money can buy!”

-By Amazon Customer, Chris Charles, Head of School, Gatewood Schools, on March 20, 2016

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“Thank you, Linda McNay, for helping us raise the revenue for our Capital Campaign – you helped make all this possible!”

Peggy Rogers Still Johnson, Executive Director, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

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“Great hires! Congrats to you, Linda, for identifying and securing such strong talent for one of our most precious assets—The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. Cheers!”

– Juan A. McGruder, Ph.D., CFRE

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“Thank you for inviting me to join your table at NPD. It was an amazing luncheon with heartwarming award presentations. People definitely give to people. The generosity and contributions of these people was transformative for Atlanta institutions. At our table, I witnessed all aspects of your gifts in sharing your time and talent as a consultant for museums at Cherokee Gardens and Callanwolde, an expert at SEMC conference, as a mentor for a diverse emerging professional, and as a volunteer in an elementary school to encourage the next generation of philanthropists. This luncheon also celebrated your contribution to Atlanta and the field. Thanks for sharing this opportunity.”

– Susan Perry, Executive Director, Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC)


Name: Angela Cassidy – BFA

Email: acassidy@benfranklinacademy.org

Comment: Hi Linda,
I really enjoyed your talk this morning (AAAIS March 29, 2017). Just wanted to let you know I took the part of “don’t eat lunch alone” to heart. I just called a BFA volunteer and took her out to lunch. She gave me a check for a very nice amount for our Annual Fund. I’m going to take your suggestion and start going through our directory and take parents out to lunch – just to catch up and touch base! Great idea.

Thanks, Angela

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“92% rated our session as Excellent; 96% rated our level of expertise as Excellent; 87% said they would re-evaluate their approach to fundraising as a result of our program; and 83% said we provided specific ideas that could be put into action.”

“Best Session of the conference!”

– SEMC 2015 Workshop Feedback

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“Great workshop at GCN this morning! Thank you for your stories and the great insight they offered.”

– Stephanie Davage, Development and Special Events Manager, C5 Georgia Youth Foundation

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“Thanks for all your help to get us this far! I feel so blessed to have had the chance to work with you this past year!”

– Ailena Parramore, Director of Development, North Cobb Christian School

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“Really enjoyed the workshop yesterday, can’t remember the last workshop that got me excited as yours did!”

 Dona Lyn Goodpasture, Director of Advancement, Deerfield Windsor School

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“I enjoyed your workshop so much and came away with many ideas that I am enthusiastic about putting in place for our annual fund at Southland.”

– Melanie Mathis

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“The sector needs what you are offering!”

– Sam Pettway, BoardWalk Consulting

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“After meeting you, I’m a big fan!”

– Susan

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“Thanks for your help in getting this organization (AITP) off the ground!”

– Lisa Adler, Co-Artistic/Producing Director, Horizon Theatre Company

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“Thank you so much for your investment of time and energy in your report. It certainly provides a path to sustainability, growth and progress.”

– Martha Barrios Mead, Board Member, Los Ninos Primero