1996 to 1997
During these two action-packed years, I provided full-time, hands-on capital campaign assistance to the Dallas Zoological Society, orchestrating a capital campaign under the outstanding (courageous) leadership of volunteers Mary McDermott Cook, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, and the late Edgar A. Robinson, Exxon Corporation (now ExxonMobil). Then-Mayor of Dallas Ron Kirk served as honorary campaign chairman. The Dallas Zoo is a city-run institution; I worked for the Zoo’s nonprofit support group, DZS.
A consultant from a large firm had been hired to assist DZS at the start, but was paid off and relieved of duties because I was able to handle all required work. I received an award for excellence and a standing ovation from the Board of Trustees at the conclusion of my two years of work, at which point $8,000,000 had been received and pledged, and a significant number of campaign prospects had been identified for the organization going forward.
Among the donors with whom I worked specifically were, in order of size of gift, The Meadows Foundation, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Crystal Charity Ball, The Kresge Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, J. C. Penney Corporation, A. H. Belo Corporation Foundation, The Rosewood Corporation, O’Donnell Foundation, Boeckman Family Foundation, and others.
I was honored when DZS committee member and legendary Dallas fundraiser, the late Charles C. Sprague, told me I was the best at running a major gift campaign of anyone he had ever seen. This was the beginning of my freelance major gift fundraising career. For a description of one portion of the DZS campaign, see my blog.
Other Work in Dallas
Additional brief consulting activities were subsequently undertaken in Dallas with such organizations as the Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas, Dallas Urban League (now the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas), American Red Cross of Dallas, The Greenhill School, and the Dallas Arboretum. This involved advanced prospect research, campaign organization, strategy development, and grant writing, skills sorely lacking at the time in development staffing in the region. I worked for six months with a consulting firm, The Dini Partners during this time, but resigned after discovering that I preferred my independence.
During my tenure at Texas Nature Conservancy (the Texas chapter of the national nonprofit organization), I helped create the first Corporate Conservation Leadership Luncheon, a program that has since generated millions of dollars and enhanced corporate financial support for the organization. The event has been held in other Texas cities and in other states. The first two events I organized in Austin and Dallas were partnerships with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
I worked as part of a team of three statewide development professionals at Texas Nature Conservancy. We focused on major gifts and related cultivation activities to support the acquisition of rare wildlife habitats in regions across Texas. My first region and training ground was South and Central Texas. The second half of my work involved moving to Dallas and opening the North Texas regional office there.
I would like to recognize Dallas volunteer Robert L. Thornton, III, without whose assistance opening the Dallas office would have been impossible. You might also enjoy reading a speech given at my request to the Dallas chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals by the late conservation champion Richard C. “Dick” Bartlett, when I lived and worked in that city during the 1990s.
The Corporate Conservation Leadership Luncheon was created with the invaluable assistance of Mike Hicks and Rob Miller of HIXO. I received an award for excellence from the Conservancy for work on this and other activities. Sharing a Tumblr you might enjoy about another event organized for the Dallas office, Plimpton!
Earlier Activities Prior to 1990
My first development positions involved work for such organizations as The Contemporary Austin (formerly Laguna Gloria Art Museum) and The University of Texas at Austin (College of Fine Arts). I secured two degrees from The University of Texas at Austin in the late 1970s and mid-1980s, and I put myself through school with a number of part-time jobs during this time: College of Education, College of Fine Arts Slide Library, Laguna Gloria Art Museum and the like. If you would like more information, please use the secure contact form to reach me.
The Dallas skyline ca. 1999 above is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.