Director of planned giving, Diane Strachan, CFRE explains what exactly her job entails and why it is so exciting.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is the only one in five top art museums in the country that is free of charge to the public. To retain this characteristic, members and friends support the museum through philanthropy. As director of planned giving, Diane Strachan is responsible for the education, implementation, and stewardship of the museum’s planned giving program. “My business is relationships,” said Strachan, who explained her schedule of at least five meetings per week with members and friends of the museum. She gets to know them so that she can align their interests and passion with the funding priorities of the museum. The process is relationship-oriented so that learning occurs for both the donor and for Strachan. “Listening is the most important skill I bring to a donor meeting,” Strachan revealed. The only way to do build relationships is to work with people in person and get to know them. If a donor is not sure how they can create a legacy gift or what part of the museum they may wish to support, Strachan works with them to find a niche that will make their gift most meaningful. For example, a museum donor had not provided instructions to the planned giving office as to where their gift was to be directed. As it turned out, this donor’s late husband was a plastic surgeon, and after learning more about the conservation efforts of the museum – and how conservators work with patience and precision to examine artwork and perform a wide range of conservation treatments using simple hand tools and microscopes as well as high-tech tools – the donor was thrilled to have found a personal, meaningful match. She designated her gift to provide much needed funding to the conservation department long after she is gone. The only way Strachan is able to accomplish these matches is through the building of relationships.
So what is the best part of the job? “When I am able to take the philanthropic objectives of a donor and marry them with needs of the museum. I love to raise money that has real donor impact.” Through donations, the museum is able to support its funding priorities: the Rafael Vinõly building project, conservation, education, and operations. Museumgoers should contact Strachan if they are interested in learning more about ways to give to the museum through an estate plan, a retirement vehicle, or to receive an income stream for life while supporting the Cleveland Museum of Art.