This month Give & Take talks with George Holloway, president of the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC). After 28 years with NCDC and over 37 years in the nonprofit world, Mr. Holloway is retiring this year. In this “Gift Planner Profile” he reflects on his long career in fund development.
Give & Take: How did you become involved in working for the National Catholic Development Conference?
Holloway: In 1971, I was approached by my friend Frank Doyle who was leaving NCDC to work for the United States Catholic Conference. He asked me to interview for his position and even though I told him I wasn’t really interested, he convinced me to apply. A few weeks later they offered me the position. After much deliberation, I accepted their offer. I thought I would stay with NCDC for a couple of years at the most, but I have now been with the organization since June 1971.
Give & Take: As president of America’s largest national association of religious charitable organizations, what do you feel is your role in promoting and encouraging the development efforts of your members?
Holloway: We have a unique membership because we are not just involved in fund raising, we are also involved in ministry. I think one of the things I am proudest of is being able to help our smaller member organizations grow. A great number of our members are willing to pay a bit more in dues in order to help these organizations.
Our members feel a need to give back to those who need help. NCDC helps facilitate the learning and sharing that goes on between our member organizations. That is very unique in fund raising. Our members don’t look at each other as competitors. When you look at the lay world, many charitable organizations feel that they are competing against other nonprofits. But in our organization, members are very open and constantly exchange information and advice amongst themselves about better ways to raise money. I think this type of sharing is one of the great strengths of NCDC.
When I first arrived at NCDC, I also believed it was important to help train our member organizations in how to raise funds. I thought having seminars would benefit NCDC in three ways: first, it would help us bring in much-needed funds; second, it would help attract new members; and third, offering training would be a good public relations tool. In late 1972 we conducted the first three seminars with Robert F. Sharpe and Company which were very successful.
Give & Take: All NCDC members agree to uphold the highest ideals of integrity and ethical conduct in their fund-raising practices. How important do you think such strong ethical guidelines are?
Holloway: I think our Precepts of Stewardship are the cornerstone of NCDC. I don’t think you can raise money without being able to honestly relate to donors and tell them where their money is going. If donors feel that an organization is not answering their questions or isn’t being honest, then they will stop giving. You must provide financial information to donors when they request it. A strong code of ethics is key to this organization. But being ethical applies to all those involved in development efforts, not just Catholic development executives.
Give & Take: What do you feel planned gifts have meant to Catholic organizations?
Holloway: Planned gifts are a natural outgrowth of the type of fund raising many of our member organizations do. As donors age, our members have realized the importance of educating donors about the prospects of bequests, charitable gift annuities, and other gift planning opportunities. Over the last 10 years that type of planned gift education marketing has blossomed. Planned gifts are vitally important and are a component of the development process that organizations need to use.
Give & Take: What is the biggest change you have seen in fund development over the years?
Holloway: I think one of the biggest changes is how specialized the field of fund raising has become. When I first started, fund-raising professionals were generalists. We wrote foundation grants, solicited corporate gifts, worked in the annual fund—basically working on a little of everything. Now the profession has become much more specialized. I am not sure if I would enjoy that because I took great pleasure in being responsible for a number of areas.
Give & Take: What will you miss most about your work when you retire?
Holloway: This organization has been 28 years of my life. It is certainly not easy to leave a place that you have been involved with for so many years. I will miss the people. They have been so genuine and such a pleasure to work with. The friendships and relationships that I have developed are deep ones and they won’t go away, but I will miss seeing everyone on a regular basis.
Give & Take:G If you could give the new president of NCDC some advice, what would you say?
Holloway: Believe in what you’re doing and make a commitment to it. I have never looked at any position I have had in this business as a “job.” I have viewed it as a chance to grow as a person and an opportunity to help other people. Once in a while you’ll see people who have gained quite a bit of success in fund raising and they don’t think they have any responsibility to give anything back. I really believe that you always should give something back. For my successor, I would say you need to be involved, share with others, and really listen to what people are saying. If you can make the organization you are associated with successful, then your own success will follow.