The Art of the Big Ask
Graham-Pelton’s Zeigler is first woman to head global fundraising company | by Meg Fry
The year was 2009 — just one year into the global financial crisis. And Elizabeth Zeigler was advising her client to add a zero.
“I was part of a team that was working with a client who wanted to ask an individual for a $5 million gift,” Zeigler said. “And I knew, based on my research and the interactions I had had with that individual,
that $50 million was the number which they should ask for.”
It took some convincing and a well-structured plan to show the donor, but, ultimately, Zeigler and her team at Graham-Pelton Consulting, a global fundraising and non-profit management consulting firm in Summit, were able to instill their client with the confidence to ask.
The client ultimately received $40 million for its capital campaign.
This is what Zeigler does as well as anyone in the state — and one of the main reasons she became the first woman to lead a global fundraising consulting firm in the multibillion-dollar nonprofit services industry when she was named CEO and president in January.
Not bad for someone who joined the firm in 2001 as a part-time campaign director.
“I am proud that I approached my career with a plan,” she said. “I feel that in every step of my career, I performed well and intentionally created credibility by earning the trust of the people to whom I reported.
“I am happy to be where I am because it is a sign that my plan worked.”