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Connecting, not collecting: the critical importance of donor relationships

Connecting, not collecting: the critical importance of donor relationships

December 15, 2023

In this episode of The Beacon Podcast, Lighthouse Counsel Senior Consultant Joan Bahner speaks with Bob Poole about donor relationships. For 14 years, Bob was senior vice president at Meherry Medical College and is now senior philanthropic advisor at Saad & Shaw.

In their discussion, Joan and Bob talk about:

  • The unfortunate circumstance where fundraisers think of themselves more as salespeople rather than relationship builders
  • The consequences of that mindset
  • And how to change it

About our guest

Bob Poole offers nearly 40 years of experience in higher education fund development, with expertise in corporate and foundation relations, planned giving, major gifts and alumni giving. He is also skilled in the creation of effective marketing and public relations programs.

In his role as a senior philanthropic advisor at Saad&Shaw, Bob applies his expertise to working with colleges and universities, with an emphasis on historically Black colleges and universities, and small colleges. His areas of expertise include:

  • Growing annual giving campaigns
  • Increasing donor participation
  • Structuring direct mail campaigns
  • Donor segmentation
  • Fundraising assessments (staff and donor base)
  • Board development
  • Prospect portfolio development and management
  • Donor analysis

Bob served for 14 years in institutional advancement at Meharry Medical College, most recently in the role of senior vice president. There, he partnered with the board of trustees and president toward successful completion of the historic $125 million Campaign for Meharry, and later he and his team helped secure more than $90 million in private philanthropy.

Poole launched his career at Fisk University before serving as director and vice chancellor for development at North Carolina Central University, where he launched and completed the institution’s first comprehensive campaign. He then served at Norfolk State University as vice president for development, expanding private giving and marketing initiatives and generating significant federal funding. He later returned to Fisk University as vice president for institutional advancement and subsequently worked in the major gifts division at Dillard University.

A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Poole earned his degree in economics at Fisk University. He has served on several volunteer and community boards, including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and local American Heart Association, United Way and Chambers of Commerce boards.

Connect with Bob on LinkedIn