Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

From lending money to raising money

Except when they are begging the government for a bailout, bankers don't usually need to do fund-raising. So, in 2006, when Wachovia bank regional president Vikram H. Dewan became chief executive at the Philadelphia Zoo, he had to add fund-raising to his job description.

From lending money to raising money

Vikram Dewan, chief executive of the Philadelphia Zoo
Vikram Dewan, chief executive of the Philadelphia Zoo

Except when they are begging the government for a bailout, bankers don't usually need to do fund-raising. So, in 2006, when Wachovia bank regional president Vikram H. Dewan became chief executive at the Philadelphia Zoo, he had to add fund-raising to his job description.

"I like doing it," he told me during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "A huge part of any person’s role at the zoo, including mine, is fund-raising.

"There are many people who say, `ooh, that’s the worst part of the job,'" he said. But, "I like it when I can see how people can get excited about the difference they are making, if you can translate it into something that matters to a person.

"I don’t know that there’s a secret to it," he said. "If you are a good listener and you are able to understand what a donor’s intention is, your role is to translate that intention into a reality. Then you are really helping them bring their dreams to life, as opposed to [what] many people believe that fund raising is -- twisting somebody’s arm to do what they would otherwise not do.

"That can never be a successful fund raising strategy," he said.

"Long term, you have to tap into what people care about," Dewant said.

For example, Dewan explained, if you find out that  the potential donor wants to make a difference with his or her life in the lives of others, then you can say, "`We have an internship program here, I’d like you to be a part of that. I’d like you to mentor a high school junior from a Title One school [and say] how the experiences that shaped your life can help you shape theirs. And I’d like you to be involved in it financially.'

"That is not a hard conversation for me to have with anybody and neither is one where I say, I’d like you to give at this level and they say, `I can’t do this this year.' That’s not a hard conversation, because then you say, `Well, I hope next year you can do more.’’’

Click here to read my recent story on the demons that bedevil people who raise funds for a living.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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