Imagine what an organization could do with a six-figure gift that did not go solely for operations or a project. That’s exactly what Tieal Bishop is challenging investors to imagine.
Bishop is the CEO and founding member of A Rosie Place for Children, the only specialty hospital in the state of Indiana that offers respite service for medically fragile children. And she’s trying to change the way that individuals, companies, and nonprofits think about giving.
“One of the challenging parts of fundraising is that large gifts are typically earmarked for something in particular,” Bishop says. “An investor will often ask, ‘what would this be used for?’ or ‘what do you need?’ There’s usually some sort of tangible thing they’re looking to identify.”
Traditional giving for one area or another often ends up feeling more transactional than transformative for the investor. On top of that, giving ends up more fragmented and is tied to a set of stipulations.
Often, there are other needs in organizations like A Rosie Place that aren’t as glamorous — or that you can’t tie a name to — but are essential for the mission. Because staff are more focused on caring for children, needing to focus on projects with stipulations can create a new set of problems.
“There are times that you as an organization are trying to come up with what you can do differently because you know you need to bring funds in to continue your mission,” Bishop says. “That’s not the intent of the donor or the investor — to make more work for the missions they love — they’re just trying to figure out how they can have some guidelines around the giving.”
Because people and organizations are trained to give to specific projects — and not the organization as a whole — nonprofits often have to spend a lot of time and energy creating tangibles to get people to consider donating.
“My belief is that if giving is going to be transformational it can’t be fragmented. It must be for all things needed to move the needle for growth,” Bishop says. “This kind of transformational giving won’t just impact the mission, but it’ll transform an organization.”
IT’S A BIG DEAL
Bishop didn’t start in the philanthropic world, so she had to learn all of the components of a nonprofit early on — construction management, business, budgeting, and fundraising.
Being an outsider, she started noticing that major donors weren’t getting excited about their large monetary gifts.
“I was sad when I would hear people who had given a transformational gift to an organization and how they talked about it because there appeared to be little enthusiasm about their massive gift,” she says. “To me, they weren’t excited enough. If you have the ability to give a six-figure gift, I feel like you should be so excited about that. What that’s going to do for an organization that you give that to is incredibly significant.”
That’s when she got the idea for the concept of Power the Season. A season lasts for three months and powering it requires donors — who Bishop calls investors — to give $250,000 or more. The funds are unrestricted, which means that the nonprofit can use them anywhere throughout the organization that will make the largest impact.
Power the Season is about going above and beyond for the nonprofit. Bishop explains that these transformational gifts are not a replacement for the operational budget of A Rosie Place, it’s in addition to it. It’s about funding the future, and the innovative ideas that can come from an organization when they have the trust of their investors.
“The onus then comes to our organization to show the investor what they powered that season,” Bishop says. “An investor gives generously and then we get to show them what we can accomplish with their giving instead of fragmenting it where it can’t really be transformational, or it can only be transformational in one area.”
The goal that Bishop has in mind for Power the Season is to get 20 investors over a 5-year period. She explains that an investor may not see the full fruits of their donation during their season, but collectively it will make an enormous impact. For three months, the investor is engaged with everything A Rosie Place does.
Powering a season means that an investor powers everything during those three months: from sponsoring a child’s sleepover, training and educating a nurse, buying a piece of medical equipment, improvements to the grounds, a program that’s developed, or a hosted event.
“An investor may not see just how transformational their gift will be in just their season,” Bishop says. “But cumulatively, with the other three investors of that year, it will not only have a massive impact on the mission, but really move the needle for the organization to have these dollars allocated exactly for that.”
The aim of Power the Season isn’t about achieving a monetary goal, it’s about starting a relationship and creating a partnership with investors in the community. The gift isn’t the end of the conversation, it’s the beginning of a partnership.
Bishop doesn’t like to think of herself as working in the nonprofit world, she likes to think of it instead as working in the Human Benefit service.
“This is transformational and it should be a really big deal, it shouldn’t just check off a box,” she says. “If you’re just checking a box, isn’t it the responsibility of the organization who is the recipient of that gift to say: ‘No, this is significant. We’re in the Human Benefit service and you need to understand what this is going to accomplish.’?”
Investors are already on board with Bishop’s message, and they’re excited. The Schwartz-Wiekamp Foundation powered the first season of A Rosie Place’s campaign, and three more investors are on board to round out the first year.
Their giving has already made an impact. With their donations, A Rosie Place for Children has poured sidewalks to make it’s backyard more accessible; installed a wheelchair swing; replaced all exterior wheelchair-accessible doors; helped fund three events; installed sensory equipment; begun drafting the plans for HeART Works Studio; and provided the ability to continue offering daycations to families.
“Transformational giving is creating a space for which there’s hope for families, and for us — it allows us to dream big. It’s an opportunity for families to connect and do things that they didn’t think were possible,” Bishop says. “Without investors like that, those things wouldn’t be possible.”
A Rosie Place has big plans for the future, too, thanks to the concept of transformational giving. That includes an expansion and creating more buildings to improve the quality of life of the children the nonprofit cares for.
“As a society, it’s time to stop and pause. Because of the pandemic, we’ve been all forced to stop and pause and think about what really matters,” Bishop says. “It all comes down to people — those that we love. Those are the things that have the most powerful and inspirational effect on our lives.”
Bishop wants people to know that transformational giving isn’t just about A Rosie Place for Children. She wants all investors to get excited about their giving to the missions they care about.
“I’d love to break the mold of transformational giving — that giving shouldn’t be for just one project or program,” she says. “I want to encourage investors to give to whatever mission they love, to choose whatever mission they’ve come alongside over the years. Give in such a way that it allows the nonprofit organization to show you what they can do.”
If you’d like to volunteer or donate to A Rosie Place for Children, visit their website. Families who use the services of the nonprofit don’t pay a dime thanks to the generous donations of individuals and businesses in the community. For more information, or to apply, contact A Rosie Place for Children at 574-235-8899.