As a writer, you know your words are making a difference when the frontline sales people, fundraisers, donors, and customers you support tell you so. I've been lucky enough to be able to see my stories directly impact my employers' goals and budgets.
I can't share the dozens of fundraising one pagers, proposals, and letters I've written on the net. However, I'm giving an overview of my big wins below. Contact me directly to see individual pieces.
Hydrocephalus Research Proposal
At the University of Chicago Medical and Biological Sciences Development (MBSD) office, I drafted a proposal for the development of a pharmaceutical treatment for hydrocephalus. This involved streamlining a brain surgeon's description of his laboratory work so that it was easier to read. When our first-time donor made a six-figure gift to support the surgeon's research, he specifically cited three points I had discovered in my personal research for the solicitation. (1) Hydrocephalus is actually a common birth defect that goes unseen in the United States because it is treatable with surgery. (2) Because most people do not know about this birth defect, research is primarily funded by families and doctors directly impacted by hydrocephalus. (3) Our doctor's research to develop a drug that replace surgery would make hydrocephalus treatment available in developing countries, where hydrocephalus is currently a death sentence. This proposal was repurposed several more times and brought in multiple gifts.
FACS Machine Proposal
The widely respected fundraising consultant Tom Ahern spoke to the University of Chicago MBSD office, urging us to adopt certain key elements in our fundraising proposals—a 750 word count, a focus on the donor's role in making a difference, strong visual and emotional triggers, a sense of urgency, and simple language. I used all of these elements for the first time in my career to create a proposal to purchase a $500,000 FACS machine for The Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago Medicine. This proposal was used several times to bring in multiple five-and-six-figure gifts.
Memory Center Proposal
I worked with the director of the University of Chicago Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders, also known as the Memory Center, to create a proposal to fund an art therapy program for Alzheimer's Disease patients. The director said the proposal was "the best thing I've seen come out of the development office."
Transit Authority Proposal
While working for the employee benefits company ComPsych, I drafted a sales proposal to provide services for the transit authority of a major American city. In my response to the Request for Proposals (RFP), I pointed out that the potential customer, which had thousands of employees, had been suffering from highly publicized strikes and absenteeism which our programs were designed to address in a targeted fashion. The transit authority told the sales person that they asked him to present our program specifically because my proposal cited the history and problems of their organization. He was then able to close the deal using the research notes I provided him.
Health Care System Proposal
One of the sales people I supported at ComPsych was invited to present our services to a health care system with thousands of employees specifically because my response to their RFP was the most detailed proposal the health system received.
Computer Science Department One Pagers
Shortly after I began working for the Office of Institutional Advancement at Illinois Institute of Technology, one of our university trustees sold a startup that he had incubated at the university's tech park, employing students and alumni. The startup sale was the largest in Chicago history and created more than 80 millionaires in the region. In a meeting with my senior director and I, the trustee outlined a series of one pagers he wanted for the purpose of raising money to support the university's computer science department. I wrote and did initial layout for the one pagers, incorporating more pictures and new dynamic text elements that our graphic designer finished and executed. My senior director informed us that the trustee deemed the one pagers "the best marketing I've seen come out of Illinois Tech in the 11 years I've been affiliated with this university." The one pagers were distributed at a fundraising gala and in offices all over Chicago, including the mayor's office.
"By the Numbers" One Pager
Thanks to the release of the new U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard, in 2015 Illinois Tech began to receive impressive educational rankings from The Brookings Institution, The New York Times, and other highly regarded sources. I compiled these for a one pager and asked our graphic designer to lay them out in dynamic text. Though our rankings appear in regular text in many online and print publications, this one pager was cited repeatedly by donors as the impressive evidence that compelled them to give. In fact, our board of trustees came to the unanimous conclusion at a meeting that "the rankings one pager is very important." It was subsequently put on the university's main web site and can be found here.
Business School Proposal and One Pager
At the request of a gift officer I dramatically revised a proposal that would be used repeatedly to appeal to donors for scholarships. The gift officer informed me that the leaders of the business school said that my proposal made their case "perfectly." I later worked with the graphic designer to create a one pager overview of the business school, which the leadership also loved. My office has printed hundreds of copies of this one pager for the business school's use.