Steven Rum: Fund-raiser No. 1
Q: Why did you want this job?
A: It’s the biggest job in the country and certainly the most prestigious. But what really excites me is the opportunity to generate the resources that will change people’s lives, as well as the chance to lead a great group of strong professionals.
Q: You’re coming into the middle of a campaign. How hard is that?
A: When you’re sitting in front of a donor, they’re not concerned if it’s the middle, beginning or end of a campaign. They’re caring about what their needs are. What we have to do is help them understand why our new buildings are important. We need to articulate how they will enhance our mission of care, discovery and education.
Q: Do you consider it a challenge to raise money for buildings?
A: I’ve done three buildings at Duke, so I don’t consider it a challenge. What’s more of a challenge is to make sure we have a deep prospect base in place.
Q: So how are you going to get to know our prospects?
A: Clearly, that’s where I’m going to have to depend on my staff and the faculty. Ideally, over the next 12 months, I’ll spend time with my staff and get to know the faculty, but the priority will be going out to meet the friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine and understanding what is important to them.
Q: Can you bring prospects with you?
A: Generally speaking, donors have deep loyalties to the institutions they’ve had experiences with, so I don’t anticipate bringing donors with me.
Q: How is our “grateful patient” program different from Duke’s?
A: Hopkins has a large patient base. It pulls from all over the state, the District and other major metropolitan areas. Duke really is pulling just from North Carolina. Plus, Hopkins has been raising money from grateful patients a lot longer than Duke, so the program has depth and breadth.
Q: What is key in fund raising?
A: It’s easy to get distracted. You can get caught up in meetings and administrative tasks. You have to direct staff so that they know they have to raise money. That is the most important priority. It’s not how pretty the proposal or brochure looks, it’s: How much money did you raise today for the institution? Today, people can direct their money to more charities than we can count. We have to make sure that those who love Hopkins Medicine consider it their philanthropic priority.
Q: What does it take to be a success?
A: You need a warm heart, a thick skin, a good set of ears, a quick wit, and you’ve got to like the elderly. Those are the words I’ve lived by, because if you have all of those qualities, you’re going to be successful. It’s not just about being a great solicitor. It’s more about how well you listen and understand what the donor wants and where we’re going.
Q: Why is liking the elderly so important?
A: Our senior citizens are the ones with the discretionary income. They’ve educated their children and paid off their houses. They’re reflecting back on life and thinking about what else is important to them and how they can make an impact. They are the ones who make extraordinarily significant gifts.
Q: What drew you to fund raising?
A: I was working for a Fortune 500 company in Dallas, and we were corporate sponsors of the Special Olympics. I came to know Sargent Shriver, and he challenged me to think about providing for my family and at the same time having a real sense of give-back to society. I joined his team and sold Special Olympics to corporate sponsors around the globe. It was a real turn-on because the resources we were raising had a life-changing effect on how these kids viewed themselves.
Q: At Duke, you raised $100 million more than your campaign goal. How?
A: With a team of professionals, who for five years developed with donors relationships that had a focus on major gift-giving. Now you can stand in the hallway of the Children’s Health Center at Duke and see kids and their parents come in to an inviting, pleasing place and know that it’s making a difference in the quality of their experience there.
Q: What do you consider your most significant professional achievement?
A: Seeing my staff grow professionally. Building a new children’s hospital at Duke. Feeling that I’m leaving an institution better than it was when I got there, that I’ve contributed in some small part. That’s all I could ask for.
—Anne Bennett Swingle