Robert Hanneman: a former music teacher orchestrates social instruments through fundraising
Nothing motivates Robert Hanneman to raise money more than the joy that comes from seeing a good cause gain recognition and solid support. Bob’s appetite for social engagement began early in his career when he started the St. Michael school in Ft. Wayne Indiana, where he was, among other roles, the principal and music director. Later, Bob taught music to children from Kindergarten to Grade Eight at St. Paul’s School and served as director for St. Paul’s Church, one of the five most prominent churches in Chicago. Working as church organist and teaching music throughout the school led Bob to expand his musical expertise to include the clarinet, the saxophone and the piano. That versatility was evident earlier, however, when Bob played drums for a Dixieland dance band, displaying an ability to play any instrument at hand.
But it was Bob’s ability to relate to anyone, together with his innate flexibility and a broad skill-set, that inspired his colleagues to put him in charge of whatever he chose to take on. Whether it was an individual or an institution facing a small challenge or large one, Bob was ready to help. And help he did.
Bob’s fundraising career truly began when he lent his organizational talents to his alma mater, Concordia College (now Concordia University) in River Forest, Illinois, where he established the alumni program. This involved the task of locating far-flung Concordia graduates who had dispersed throughout the world. Bob encouraged them to reconnect to their roots, and it worked phenomenally.
One success led to another, until Bob was wearing many hats at Concordia. “I did some fundraising for the alumni program I started and then became director for public relations, responsible for all publicity, recruitment and fundraising for the school, including publications. After that, I became Vice President of Public Relations, overseeing four recruiters who travelled throughout the U.S. looking for students in the early 1970s.”
Success in fundraising brought Bob to Canada, and a short trip turned into a long tenure. “I was given an assignment in Canada with a three-month term. . .that was 25 years ago.” After meeting his wife and settling in Ottawa, Bob never looked back. Several years ago he began working with George Stanois on a campaign in London, Ontario. Bob has partnered with George and The Goldie Company on several occasions since then, now serving clients in the Ottawa area.
After a period of intense fundraising assignments throughout Canada, marriage made Bob feel ready “to throw the blue suitcase away.” He became Executive Director of the Riverside Hospital Foundation in Ottawa. The hospital had run a successful fundraising campaign but needed to establish a permanent program in its wake. They needed someone who could develop an annual giving program and they realized Bob was the man to do it.
Subsequently, the Riverside Hospital merged with two other hospitals into Ottawa Hospital, a much larger entity that placed the Riverside Hospital Foundation in an unanticipated, potentially awkward position.
“We had built up four to five million dollars in our reserve fund and didn’t know exactly what to do with that money after the conglomerate was put together. So we asked the donors how they wanted to use the money. They told us to start a new foundation and support home care. So I put together a new foundation called the Ottawa Regional Healthcare Foundation, now known as The Outcare Foundation, in which we supported home care programs, including resource centres (respite and palliative care), Alzheimer’s Respite Programs that allow caregivers an opportunity to get a break from the care of patients with Alzheimer’s, Aphasia Centres, and others.”
Recognizing that such capacities should be passed on to others, Algonquin College asked Bob to teach classes on “Capital Campaigns” and “Public Relations.” With his teaching background, it was a natural fit. In addition to teaching, Bob volunteered to serve the Catholic School Foundation in Ottawa, raising and then disbursing money to children for coats, glasses, dental work and other health-related needs.
Asked for advice for not-for-profits in these challenging times, Bob asserts that a good case always galvanizes not-for-profit fundraising but that success often depends on how well organizations can articulate their goals. Additionally, it is important to be selective about how and who you approach—to identify stakeholders with care. Bob underscored some fundamental questions: “Who are you? What are you doing? It can be challenging to build brand recognition. It’s hard to raise money if people haven’t become aware of what an organization is doing. People need to know who you are. You have to know what you’re doing and tell other people about it. Make sure you have a good cause!” It’s sound advice from a veteran fundraiser.
One gratifying aspect of fundraising for Bob is a campaign’s definitive shape: it has a beginning and a measurable end. He says the joy people get out of seeing a successful campaign and accomplishing something meaningful is lasting and builds confidence in their mission. A campaign provides a rudder to an organization.
“Fundraising is about enjoying people and seeing them accomplish something they want and need. You meet a lot of different people, and each campaign is different. I love encountering the excitement.” Bob’s affection for fundraising has kindled a family legacy, as his son and grandson currently work in fundraising as well.