December 2008
AAI E-News  
A semiannual e-newsletter from Advancement Associates, Inc.
In This Issue
Introducing AAI E-News
Gerig presents at Lutheran conference
What role does market research play in advancement?
Relating to donors in a difficult economy
Join Our Mailing List
Featured Client
Who: Adriel, Inc.

What: Residential and foster care agency

Where: West Liberty, OH

Learn more about Adriel
 Upcoming Events
See us next at:

Mennonite Health Assembly
March 19-22, 2009
Cleveland, OH

Read more
  Our Team
Richard L. Gerig, MEd, Principal
Rebecca S. Drumm, CFRE,  Principal
Sherilyn R. Ortman, BA, Associate

J. Daniel Hess, PhD, Associate

Michael D. Wiese, PhD, Associate
Rebekah N. Mast,
Office Manager

Email us 
AAI logo
Introducing AAI E-News

Memorial Home Building relationships. Advancing your mission. Hopefully anyone who has worked with AAI will recognize this tagline. Throughout our ten years of consulting with nonprofit agencies, AAI has maintained that organizational advancement relies on healthy, dynamic relationships; our goal is to help our clients establish such relationships, whether with donors, prospective students and families, employees or other constituents. And one of the most fulfilling parts of our own work is getting to know and interact with so many wonderful and dedicated people from across the nation-people like you.
We trust that you've also gained something from your experience with us, be it a greater awareness of your strengths and weaknesses as an organization, a chance to realize or develop personal skills, or increased understanding and confidence in approaching people, thereby continuing your own work in building relationships.
Our company has spent considerable time thinking about the good work our clients do and how we can partner in it; in fact, we've even made that the centerpiece of our marketing efforts this year. We're launching AAI E-News as a way to stay in touch with you; in each issue you can look forward to several features:
  • "In Theory & In Practice"-an article about some aspect of advancement paired with a profile of an actual AAI client demonstrating the principle in action.
  • "Ask the consultant"-where you can submit a question for one of our team members to respond to; hopefully the questions and responses shared here will stimulate your thinking and provide you with new solutions to issues you're facing.
  • AAI news and upcoming events-to inform, inspire, and help you stay connected with us.
 We hope you'll find the information in AAI E-News helpful to your organization, and we invite you to pass it on to anyone else you think might be interested. If for some reason you prefer not to receive future issues, use the links at the top or bottom of the page to unsubscribe.
Gerig presents at Lutheran conference
Earlier this fall Principal Rich Gerig attended the third biennial National Administrator and Pastors Conference sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA). As the name implies, conference registrants included directors and principals, pastors, Christian education directors and board chairpersons.
"Called and Chosen to Serve" was the theme for the conference, which took place October 10-12 in Chicago, IL; in conjunction with the ongoing work of the ELEA, the event's mission was "to equip school and early childhood education center leaders and pastors to maintain and strengthen their ministry to their staff, students, families, congregations and communities."
In a workshop titled "An Enrollment Checklist," Gerig detailed for participants several enrollment "best practices" that range from identifying key networks and strong prospects to implementing an effective visitation program to creating user-friendly processes for registration and financial aid. (To read the complete enrollment checklist, click here.)
In Theory & In Practice
What role does market research play in advancement?

Two teens chat on the porch
Over the last few years a number of our clients have engaged in market research, one of several auxiliary services offered by AAI. Among them are schools working to improve their image and/or increase their enrollment; retirement centers considering a new approach to long-term care; and a church conference wanting to better support its pastors. In each case, these organizations were motivated by a genuine desire to provide their constituency with service that was more accessible, more comprehensive and more relevant. All concluded that conducting market research would be an important step to this end.

On the occasion of revising its marketing plan, Adriel Inc., West Liberty, Ohio, contracted with AAI to learn more about its own image and its relations with constituents.
Adriel Inc., established in 1896, is a nonprofit  faith-based organization that provides high quality care and treatment of children and their families experiencing a range of adjustment, learning, emotional and behavioral problems.
Rich Gerig, AAI principal, called upon AAI Associate Mike Wiese to head the research for Adriel. Mike is professor of marketing at Anderson University.  His starting point was a question: "What are your questions?"  
The Adriel staff, led at that point by Executive Director Marty Lehman, asked, "What are the primary professional trends and the best practices in our field of service?"
AAI reviewed the literature of child and family services, then spoke with six regional or national leaders. AAI assembled a list of key concepts driving current up-to-date professional child care.
According to Mike, "Entities that understand these concepts and the changes they are bringing to child care, and alter their services to meet children's needs - these entities will capitalize on growth."
The second question had to do with the needs and expectations of the courts and child and family social services when needing to refer a child to a care agency. AAI interviewed 14 professionals in child care referral, each from a different county of Ohio.
A third question had to do with Adriel's reputation among its constituents. "How well are we doing?  How might we improve?"  AAI was able, on the basis of its extensive research, to create a kind of balance sheet that showed what respondents named as Adriel's assets and its deficits.
Karla Gingerich, senior vice president at Adriel, cites the research project as a turning point in recent Adriel history and mentions three big changes that it has inspired. In the first place, program directors make regular calls to courts and children's services in Ohio. Second, Adriel does a far better job in tracking outcomes, documenting the average length of stay and citing the percentages of children who can be moved to less restrictive services. And third, "all of us are aware of good customer service. Every personal contact, every phone call is a part of marketing." 
For more information about this project, click here.

Ask the consultant
How should my organization and I relate with our major donors during these uncertain economic times?

A: You used a key word in your question: "relate."  Creating and maintaining close relationships with major donors is a key activity for CEOs and development directors.  And that priority shouldn't change with the economy.
"You make me feel like an ATM," a donor once told a development officer. "I only see you when you need money."

Would your major donors say that about your organization? Not if you are relating to them well. Think of major donors as your best friends. Yes, they are your largest financial contributors. But they also can support you with their ideas, questions, counsel and prayers. 
During tough economic times, it's more important than ever to know your major donors. As you continue to share the ongoing needs and achievements of your organization, listen with empathy to their concerns as well. They will be honest about their capacity to give, and will welcome your expressions of genuine concern and interest in their difficult, challenging circumstances. 
Do you have a question to "ask the consultant?" Email us!