Firebrand fundraiser visits the Space Coast


Fundraising expert Jimmy LaRose turned traditional gift seeking on its head at the Oct. 29 conference sponsored by the United Way of Brevard. Photo by Linda WIggins

It used to be that when Dolores Spearman of south Rockledge considered giving to a charity, she looked for one that proudly spent only pennies on administrative overhead.

No more.

“We come from corporate success. We know how to run major businesses. That’s why we have financial gifts to give back,” Spearman said of herself and her benevolent peers, many of whom also live in the greater Viera/Suntree area.

“But we check our business sense at the door when we take a volunteer board position or look to make a gift to charity. We would never run a company that way. Nonprofit success is based on good administration, which is where we need to invest our monies.”

Spearman shared those insights as one of nearly 200 attendees of the Sept. 29 and 30 Major Gifts Ramp-Up Conference held at the Melbourne campus of Eastern Florida State College, sponsored by United Way of Brevard.

She was inspired by firebrand fundraiser and presenter Jimmy LaRose of the 25-year-old National Development Institute, who challenged the community’s donors, charities and civic leaders to rethink the way they pursue money.

“Put away your tin cup. Stop begging,” LaRose told attendees, many of whom flew in from across the country for the event.

“Successful charities offer donors the opportunity to realize their own ‘great dreams’ backed by ‘sound plans.’ Donors want to work with you to provide as many people as possible a life worth living.”

That’s putting it mildly. Try this: “You need to fire your do-gooder executive director and instead hire a CEO to bring in financial resources. If you are an executive director and you’re here today, you know this is true: CEO is your true job title and mission.”

LaRose signed advanced copies of his book, “Re-Imagining Philanthropy” available at Barnes & Noble beginning on Giving Tuesday Dec. 1.

Honnie Korngold of CineVantage Productions from Hollywood was on hand with a film crew producing a documentary film about LaRose’s work to be released in 2016.

“The key to getting money from those who have it is to involve them as partners in your mission; “The wealthy person is your customer, NOT the population or issue you serve,” he reiterated at the event and wrote in his book.

“It doesn’t matter if money is in a personal bank account, a foundation or in a corporation, it’s a person you have to convince. Money is oxygen and if you have enough of it you’ll dramatically expand your mission and transform the lives of those around you. 

“Too often (quite often) we reduce our donors to ATM machines that reside somewhere outside the organization, who we wouldn’t visit or communicate with if we didn’t have to,” he wrote.

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