I NEEDED TO LEARN ABOUT FUNDRAISING,
I LEARNED FROM DICK SLOTTOW
wasn't always a fundraiser. In the beginning I worked
for a bank. In fact, in 1970 I was the Assistant Vice
President and Manager of the Palm Springs Office of
Crocker Bank and a real "Honcho" in that town. I was
the President of the Rotary Club, the Vice President
of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Board
of Governors of the Desert Hospital Foundation.
day the Hospital Administrator called and invited me
to lunch. Over martinis, those being the days of the
three-martini-lunch, he offered me the job as Executive
Director of the Foundation.
anybody can do it," he said. "You've been doing it as
a volunteer and all I'm doing is offering you a lot
of money to do what you've been doing for nothing."
was talking about fundraising and I had, indeed, raised
a few bucks for them by leaning on our vendors and competitors.
he offered me $22,000 a year and a car. That was a 50%
increase over what I was making, so I took the job.
It wasn't until I sat down behind the desk my first
day as a fundraiser that it dawned on me that I didn't
have a clue about what to do.
read the files. All I learned from the files was how
to write a "thank you" letter, because that was all
that was in those files.
decided that I'd better get busy earning those big bucks,
so I made a list of 20 people, each of whom could make
a gift of $10,000 to the hospital. I knew they could
give $10,000 because I'd been their banker. And, they
knew I knew it, too.
I called them all up. The first thing I discovered was
that they didn't return my phone calls anymore. When
you're a banker and you call someone, they call you
back. Think about it, there's a message on your desk
when you get back from lunch that says "Your Bank called."
Do you call right back? Of course you do. All kinds
of bad things can happen to you if you don't call right
back. But, from this group of 20 people that I fully
expected to raise $200,000 from, I raised a grand total
of $1,200 from the three or four people who returned
my call. A thousand of that came from a man for whom
I'd made a lot of money in a banking transaction who
let me know that this paid off his debt to me and I'd
better not come around asking again.
I went back to that Hospital Administrator and said,
"You said any one can do this, but, I can't. If you
don't want me back in the banking business real fast
making you look really stupid for hiring me, you'd better
spend some money to train me."
he did. For the next few years I went to workshops and
seminars. I attended conferences and visited other hospitals.
Sometime in 1974 I attended a Regional Conference of
what was then called the National Association for Hospital
Development (NAHD). The Conference was held at one of
the Los Angeles International Airport's adjacent hotels
and the keynote speaker was a consultant, some guy named
Hospital's not going to raise money unless some one
is asking for it," said Dick.
made sense to me.
said a lot of other good stuff, too, like how to raise
money from doctors. The doctors at Desert Hospital had
convinced me that they shouldn't be asked to give, because
they were involved in the lofty pursuit of making people
well. These newly healthy people, in turn, should give
money to buy the new equipment that these doctors wanted
the hospital to have.
a doctor wants the hospital to buy a piece of equipment
you know it will be a money loser," said Dick. "If you
could make money with it, the doctor would buy it himself
and put it in his office."
made sense to me.
a doctor says that the quality of care will be compromised
by some action the hospital's administrator wants to
take, it usually means he thinks the doctors will end
up making less money," Slottow said.
made sense to me, too.
he said, "The problem we have trying to raise money
from doctors is we treat them differently than we do
everybody else. With a regular donor you cultivate and
court him, buy him lunch and tell him how great he is.
But, with a doctor you tell him he HAS to give because
he owes it to you. All the while the for-profit hospital
up the street is feeding him gourmet meals in the doctor's
dining room and washing his car while he's making rounds.
No wonder they don't give to our hospitals."
all made sense.
checked this guy out and found out that he had been
one of the first hospital fundraisers in the country
(he says he WAS the first) at Presbyterian St. Luke
Hospital in Chicago and he was the keynote speaker at
the first NAHD Conference in 1966. Before that he worked
at Northwestern University and for the Haney Company,
a fundraising consulting firm.
1971 he started his own consulting practice and moved
with his wife Jean and their three boys to San Francisco.
our first meeting, I kept in touch with Dick over the
next few years and was tempted several times to take
his "Seminar at Sea," but I could never convince my
boss that it was a serious educational experience.
1977 I had moved to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian
in Newport Beach and thought I had learned enough about
the fund raising business to take the NAHD Fellows exam
to be given in San Francisco that year. We were looking
into the creation of a fund raising Foundation for Hoag
and I thought as long as I was in the area, I'd stop
by and seek Dick's advice about it. He arranged to pick
me up at my hotel, then down to the Marina we went to
have a drink on his sailboat. The moment I came on board,
out came the logbook for me to sign, certifying that
I was there for strictly business purposes.
when I realized that this Slottow was a pretty slick
hombre having figured out a way to write off his sailboat
as a business expense. That's what the "Seminars at
Sea" had been all about.
did talk business and arranged for Dick to come to Newport
to assist us in putting the Foundation together. Oh,
yes, I took and passed the Fellows Exam the next day.
following year I made my debut as a speaker at the NAHD
Conference in San Diego. There was Dick in the audience.
My topic was "Goals, Results and Accountability," a
presentation about how most hospital fund raising departments
failed at setting achievable and measurable goals.
came up to me afterward and said, "That was great stuff,
you should be a consultant."
can't," I said, "I've got a full time job."
you can," he said. And he offered me my first consulting
engagement with St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco.
your boss you don't want a raise the next time you're
eligible, that you'd rather have a few days off each
month to do consulting instead," Dick told me.
much should I charge?" I asked. And he told me this
he moved to the West Coast he received a call from an
old friend, a hospital administrator in New England,
who wanted him to conduct a Board Retreat in the dead
of winter. Dick didn't want to go to the cold Northeast
in February, so he told him he would charge $3,000 for
the retreat, which was about four times greater than
his normal fee. The friend said he'd get back to him.
next day, Dick got a call from the friend who said,
"You're hired! I told my Board you wanted $3,000 for
the retreat and they figured anybody who can charge
that much must be terrific." And, he was, too.
Dick said to me, "When you charge an exorbitant fee,
they're more likely to do what you tell them to do,
because they think you must know what you're talking
about or you could never get away with charging so much
I set my fee at $300 a day and asked my Boss for the
time off in lieu of a raise.
Dick's book, "Confessions of a Fundraiser," he describes
the situation he encountered when he took on St. Francis
Hospital in San Francisco as a client. The Hospital
was near broke and the CEO was hoping Slottow could
pretty much what he did, too.
brought me in to review the old restricted accounts
and make recommendations on how to utilize the money.
One fund was the result of a $10,000 gift made in 1906
the income from which was restricted to provide a free
room for a charity case for an entire year. (That ten
grand might buy you a day in the Intensive Care Unit
today.) The money had been deposited in a trust account
at Bank of America and over the next 70 years it grew
to only about $27,000. We thought the investment return
bordered on criminal neglect but that's the kind of
conservative investing one could expect from a bank
in those days.
helped engineer a renewal at St. Francis including a
new Sports Medicine Department that helped them get
back in the black.
enjoyed my consulting days at St. Francis. I would grab
the bus from SFO into the downtown terminal, then grab
a cable car up the hill to Hyde and Pine where the hospital
was located. Sometimes Dick took me to dine on Pot Stickers
at his favorite Chinese Restaurant and sometimes we'd
go to the buffet at the St. Francis Yacht Club. When
I stayed over night, Dick would arrange for me to stay
at the University Club on California Street.
were the days of Air California's commuter flights from
Orange County to San Francisco. They were almost always
overbooked coming back into Orange County and, since
I was single in those days, I almost always made extra
money by accepting the Airlines offer of $100 or more
to give up my seat and take a later flight.
was really rolling in dough.
of rolling in dough.
"Confessions of a Fundraiser" Dick describes his interaction
with Arnold Beckman that led to the largest pledge he
or I had ever received, $5 Million, and why it was never
paid. Here are a couple of anecdotes to complement Dick's
Beckman founded Beckman Instruments in his garage and
built it into a billion-dollar company before he sold
out to Smith Kline in the 80's. When I went to Hoag
Hospital in 1976, Dr. Beckman was on Hoag's Board of
Trustees and I was able to convince our Board President
to ask him if he would agree to be our Annual Giving
Chair. Nobody had ever asked Dr. Beckman to do anything
at Hoag Hospital because it was assumed he was too busy
to accept any new assignments. They were wrong. When
you get as rich as Dr. Beckman you can afford to hire
people to do everything for you and life can be very
I met with Dr. Beckman to discuss the campaign I brought
along a list of companies whose employees were heavy
users of our hospital. Dr. Beckman looked down the list
and stopped when he saw "Continental Airlines."
I'm on the Board at Continental Airlines," he said,
"and Bob Six (the Chair of the Continental Board) is
a good friend of mine. But, I don't think they'll give
us anything, they're losing money hand over fist."
they're losing money," I responded, "Maybe that's because
they have a lot of empty seats and they could give us
round trip for two to Hawaii to auction off at our annual
idea," said Dr. Beckman, "I'll give Bob a call." Which
week later I received a letter from a Mr. Kelly in the
Continental Airlines Marketing Department informing
me that Continental was giving Hoag Hospital two round
trip FIRST CLASS tickets to Hawaii for our Auction.
To ask for First Class seats had never entered my mind.
we auctioned them for a lot of money and when the next
year rolled around I asked Dr. Beckman if he would again
approach Continental about the Hawaii tickets.
a letter to that fellow Kelly who sent them to you last
year," said Dr. Beckman. And I did.
month or so later I got a letter in the mail from Mr.
Kelly telling me that there were about a million charities
in the USA all of whom would like to have Continental
Airline tickets, so, they couldn't possibly let us have
them two years in a row. "We simply don't have the budget
for it," said Mr. Kelly.
put one of those yellow post-it notes on this letter,
wrote "FYI" on it and sent it on to Dr. Beckman. The
following week I got a phone call from Mr. Kelly.
reviewed our budget," said Mr. Kelly and from that moment
until Continental sank into Chapter 11, Hoag Hospital
had first class tickets to Hawaii every year for their
Beckman liked to tell the story of how, after he had
given $20 Million to the University of Illinois, he
received a phone call from the University's President
inviting him to enjoy the next home football game in
the President's private box.
would be lovely," Dr. Beckman says he told the President,
"what time does the game start?"
time do you want it to start?" replied the President.
got a million Dr. Beckman stories, but I'll just add
day I phoned a woman at St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet
Illinois, that we were trying to recruit to our Marketing
Department. She wasn't interested in our job offer,
but before she hung up she said, "By the way, in Newport
Beach do you happen to know a man named Arnold Beckman?"
course," I said, astonished that there was anyone in
the world who might not know who he was, "He's the founder
of Beckman Instruments," etc, etc. "Why do you ask?"
a donor to our hospital," she said. "Every year we get
a check for $10,000 the first week in December. It's
been going on for 15 years and now he's our largest
donor. There is never a letter with the check and he
never answers our letters to him offering various types
of recognition. Nobody here knows why he likes us so
much and we'd love to find out."
offered to see what I could learn.
next time I saw Dr. Beckman I said, "I happened to be
speaking to a person from St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet
the other day and she said you are their best donor."
"Oh yes," he said, and told me the following story.
traveling through their native Illinois many years ago,
Mrs. Beckman became ill in a hotel in Joliet. The Desk
Clerk referred them to a Protestant affiliated hospital
near the hotel and Dr. Beckman rushed his beloved Mabel
to the Emergency Room. "What kind of insurance do you
have?" asked the E. R. clerk. "I don't have any," said
the richest man this clerk had ever laid eyes on. "I'll
have to write you a check."
said the clerk, "we can't accept personal checks at
night because your bank is closed and can't verify it.
Why don't you try St. Joseph Hospital down the street,
they'll take just about anybody."
he and Mabel did, and St. Joseph did indeed take them
in without a wallet biopsy, and he's been sending them
money every year since.
know Dick will agree that one of the great things about
our profession is having the opportunity to befriend
people like Arnold Beckman. He's 102 years old now and
his beloved Mabel is gone. When last I saw him, he didn't
recognize me. He and his pal Ronald Reagan now suffer
from the same malady.
first consulting job Dick and I did together (he as
boss and me as flunky), was for the Northern San Diego
County Hospital District.
District CEO, Ken Dillard, hired Dick to do a Feasibility
Study to determine the likelihood of success of a Fund
Raising Program for his two hospitals, Palomar in "blue
collar" Escondido and Pomarado in "ritzy" Rancho Bernardo.
Dick hired me to help with the interviews.
was an interesting case because Pomarado was a relatively
new hospital with few needs while Palomar was an older
hospital with a crumbling infrastructure and too many
charity patients. What CEO Dillard really wanted to
know was whether the rich people in Rancho Bernardo
would give money to support health care for the poor
people in Escondido. The answer to that question was
a resounding, "NO!"
we collected a pretty hefty fee for finding out that
thing I remember about the Study was that when it was
over several of the publicly elected Board Members complained
because we hadn't interviewed them. Dick told me these
politicians couldn't possibly add anything to what we
had already learned, but they felt "slighted" because
we weren't interested in their opinion. So, for several
hundred dollars Dick and I went back to Escondido, interviewed
the neglected Board Members, included a few of their
comments as window dressing and resubmitted the report
with the same conclusion. Everybody was happy with it
except poor Ken Dillard who didn't get the financial
result he wanted. Dillard liked Dick, however, because
he never "pulled his punches" and kept him on retainer
of the things that always amazed me about Dick Slottow
was the way he was able to deal with difficult Administrators.
They admired and respected Dick, while most Fundraisers
were beneath contempt to them. I always wondered why
this was, but I've come to believe that it was because
he always told them the truth. While most fundraisers
would try to "butter-up" and/or "bullshit" an Administrator,
Dick simply treated them as equals and called a "spade
a spade." They loved him for it.
such administrator was Russ Stromberg who was for many
years the CEO of Centinella Hospital in Inglewood. Russ
had built Centinella into a powerhouse that included
the famous Sports Medicine program of Doctors Kerlan
and Job, who were known as "Orthopedists to the Stars."
Many years before, Russ and Dick had worked together
and Dick could look Russ in the eye and tell him "no"
when no other Fundraiser could get away with it.
went through Fundraisers like a hot knife through butter.
Many a famous name in Fundraising lasted only a few
months at Centinella because Russ had his own ideas
about how it should be done.
played Golf. He liked Golf. So, his idea of fundraising
was to put on a Golf Tournament. For awhile it was an
LPGA Tournament, then it was a Seniors Tournament, each
of which gave Russ a chance to play golf with a famous
Pro Golfer. But, the Tournament didn't have a "chance
in Hell" of raising a dime because of the high purses
that had to be guaranteed the Pros.
each year Russ hired a new Fundraiser in the hope of
finding one who could turn his Golf Tournament into
a moneymaker. None of them ever did. Each year I would
get a phone call from a new "Headhunter" hired by Russ
to scrounge up a new Fundraiser. Russ went through a
lot of Headhunters, too, in his quest for the "Perfect
I got a call from a Headhunter who said, "Name the top
five Fund Raisers in the Country."
name four," I replied, "But modesty prevents my mentioning
another thing I learned from Dick, "Modesty is for those
who have much to be modest about," to paraphrase Winston
Churchill's famous assessment of his replacement as
year while I was at Hoag I got a call from a Medical
Doctor who identified himself as the President and CEO
of Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. He wanted to know if
he and several of his Board members could stop and see
me during a trip they had planned to Newport Beach.
I agreed, for a fee.
CEO and the Board Members called on me and I spent some
time advising them on their Fundraising Program. About
a week later I got a call from the Doctor in Scottsdale
who said, "We'd like you to come to Scottsdale and be
our Fundraiser." Then he offered me quite a bit of money.
I told him I'd think about it.
called Dick and told him about it. Right at that moment
I was feeling under-appreciated at Hoag and I was flattered
by their offer.
you go off half cocked," said Dick, "and do something
you may regret for the rest of your life, ask yourself
one question. Are they offering all that money because
they want Frank Hall to run THEIR Program? Or, is it
because they want you to bring Hoag Hospital's Development
Program with you?"
was right, of course. These folks had been impressed
not with me, but with the amount of money Hoag was raising
on an annual basis. It would take years to build up
a program to that point and I was sure they wouldn't
have the patience to wait for it.
I did refer them to a friend of mine named John Tabor,
who I knew was interested in leaving St. Louis where
he headed a hospital foundation. A few days later John
called me and said he'd received an inquiry from Scottsdale.
He asked me what I thought he should ask for, in terms
of salary and perks. I told him I'd ask for $50,000
a year and a car, which he thought sounded pretty good.
I heard that Scottsdale Memorial had hired John.
ran into him at an NAHD Convention and asked how he
was getting along. He said he had made only one mistake.
when you told me to ask for $50,000 and a car? I should
have asked for $50,000 and a NEW car."
turned out the Doctor/CEO had been driving a five year
old hospital vehicle which he assigned to John while
he got a new BMW for himself.
Administrator who remained faithful to Dick during his
entire consulting career was George Graham of Torrance
Memorial Hospital. Dick hired me to help on the Torrance
account from time to time.
first fundraiser I worked with there was Mark Mattson.
Mark had been in Public Relations and I always had the
feeling he didn't like fundraising very much. I would
give Mark a list of tasks to accomplish before I returned
two weeks hence and when I came back I almost always
found the task list still sitting in Mark's "To Do"
talked to Dick about the problem and he told me that
it was an exceptional P.R-type who could juggle both
Fundraising and P.R. at the same time. The problem was
that the Public Relations person was always on a deadline.
can't go ask for money today; I have to get the Employee
Newsletter out." It was true. It sounded a lot like
the excuses I was getting from Mark. Ultimately Mark
quit, just before one of his deadlines.
years later, Dick hired my fiancée Patricia (later my
wife) to help him conduct interviews for a Feasibility
Study for Torrance Memorial. Gary Steinhauer was then
the Development Director at Torrance and was to spearhead
the campaign when it got underway.
during the course of this Study, Dick convinced Patricia
that I could make more money as a full time consultant
than as an employed person. They've both been on my
case ever since. But growing up in Post-Depression Bakersfield
convinced me of the value of a steady paycheck and I've
just never been able to get over it.
OF THE VALLEY
and I worked at Queen of the Valley Hospital in West
Covina at different times over the years, sometimes
together, sometimes alone. In the early 70's "the Queen's"
Fundraiser was a man named Gordon whom I admired. He
was a big shot in NAHD and he sounded to me like he
knew what he was talking about. But, Gordon left Queen
of the Valley and several other hospitals after relatively
short intervals, so I asked Dick about him.
has the Yips," Slottow told me. "The Yips" is a golfing
term applied to a guy who "chokes" and misses when confronted
with a short "money putt."
asked Dick how the Yips applied to fundraisers.
gets sick," Dick told me. "Whenever he has a big meeting
to attend or a tough decision to make he gets the stomach
flu or some other malady that prevents him from showing
up for the big date."
Gorden came a string of Fund Raisers at Queen of the
Valley and finally the Queen hired Jim Lester as their
depended on Dick for his sage advice, including the
advice to hire Michael Slottow, one of Dick's three
sons, as a trainee in the Queen of the Valley Foundation.
1986 when I left Hoag for Orthopaedic Hospital I was
faced with hiring four or five new professional staff
members to replace those who decided to leave with my
predecessor Jon Olson. Dick told me about Michael and
suggested I speak to him about one of our openings.
So, I called him and we made a date to meet, amazingly
in all my trips to the Bay Area I had never met Michael.
he walked into my office I recognized him immediately.
He had his Father's enthusiasm, pleasant attitude, sense
of humor and his slight wiry athletic build. He was
smart like his Dad, too. Luckily, he had inherited his
Mother's good looks.
offered Michael a job and he took it. We had an opportunity
to work together for more than a year and it was a highlight
of my time there.
our two-year tenure, Orthopaedic Hospital had four Chief
man that hired me was Bob Sloan, with whom I had served
on the Board of the California Hospitals Political Action
Committee. I liked Bob a lot and had looked forward
to working for him. Unfortunately he was fired before
I ever reported to work. His replacement was Dave Arterburn,
who had been Sloan's Assistant. But he didn't last long
because the Hospital continued to lose money and, to
escape, Arterburn accepted a position in Northern California.
the Board of Trustees decided to appoint as CEO one
of their own, a Board member who had previously been
Business Manager for fitness guru Vic Tanney and was
now "between jobs." The other Trustees thought this
was sufficient "Health Care" experience. He ran the
place into the ground so that the Board in desperation
conducted a search, which turned up a former For-Profit
Hospital Administrator with the ethics of a Trial Lawyer.
That's when I quit and went to work for the Sisters
of St. Joseph of Orange.
Michael yearned to return to the ski slopes of Colorado.
When he was offered a job sufficiently high on the mountain
to guarantee continuous winter snowfall he leaped at
the chance and as far as I know he hasn't come down
along the way Dick and I decided to form a partnership
for the purpose of doing Executive Searches. Several
times Dick called me for ideas whenever he was doing
a Search for one of his clients and he always shared
his fee with me if someone I suggested was hired. Since
he was in Northern California and I was in the south
we knew just about everyone in the business, better
yet, we knew which ones were really good and which ones
only sounded good.
fundraisers SOUND like they know what they're talking
about," Dick told me. "But, not many have actually got
this business figured out. Most Hospital Administrators
don't know anything about it either, so they hire someone
who looks and sounds like the last guy they had." (And,
in those days they were all "guys.")
reminded me of a long ago incident. In the early 70's
the Director of Development for White Memorial Hospital
in Los Angeles was a former radio announcer named Wally
Lighthall. Wally never raised any money, but he sure
sounded wonderful. A few months after Wally retired
I attended an NAHD Regional Meeting where a man introduced
himself to me.
there", he said in a deep and trained-for-radio voice,
"I'm Gary Quackenbush."
tell me," I said, "I'll bet you're with White Memorial
did you know?" he asked, truly puzzled.
the time Dick and I decided to start our little recruiting
firm there were several large executive search organizations
specializing in hospitals that would do a search for
a fundraiser, but, they didn't know what a fundraiser
should be doing, exactly. So, we felt we had a unique
service and launched Hall Slottow. Dick even arranged
for us to have stationery and business cards.
placed quite a few people, most of whom stayed in those
positions for a very long time. One, Jim Klosterman
at Downey, just retired after staying in the same job
for 20 years. We must have been doing something right.
we had to give up our little enterprise when the St.
Joseph Health System negotiated to buy all my consulting
far I have spoken only about Dick Slottow, with only
passing mention of the driving force behind his success,
his wife of 50 years, Jean. They say that behind every
successful man is a strong woman and a surprised mother-in-law.
This is very true of Richard Slottow.
have known many persons named Jean, but it is Jean Slottow
who comes to my mind when I hear song from Brigadoon,
is a saint. She put up with Dick's long hours, the years
on the road, his loutish friends and the monumental
egos of the "Fat Cats," he had to cultivate to succeed
in his chosen craft. She also had to put up with visiting
fundraisers like me, who would stomp into her house,
collar her husband and speak about nothing but business
for hours on end.
it all she raised three fine sons and was there for
Dick when he needed a shoulder to cry on. And, she is
a generous and thoughtful hostess, too.
time, many years ago, during the Great California Drought,
I visited the Slottow household. The Drought was so
bad that each home was only allowed to flush their toilet
twice a day. Jean gave me two beers even though this
inevitably meant that I would be forced to use one of
written in these pages about Dick Slottow the Fundraiser.
I have not mentioned Dick Slottow the sailor, or Dick
Slottow the bicyclist, or Dick Slottow the sculptor,
or Dick Slottow the skier, or Dick Slottow the writer,
or Dick Slottow the tennis player or Dick Slottow the
pianist, or Dick Slottow the investment advisor, or
Dick Slottow the real estate mogul or Dick Slottow the
true, blue friend.
is all of those things and probably a lot more that
I don't know about.
owe him a lot that I will never be able to repay.
try," he will say.