Case Study

Mobile Loaves & Fishes grows its mission


Founded by five volunteers in 1998, Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF) is on the cutting edge of confronting homelessness in Austin, TX. Over 17,000 volunteers are preparing and delivering food with a fundamental mission of empowering individuals to serve their communities. While MLF has become a nationwide model, there has always been a greater vision to create a permanent community which will lift chronically homeless men and women up off the streets.

The Challenge

MLF has never conducted a major capital campaign. This is mainly because there has never been a compelling vision to ask for sizable gifts but also because the broad base of volunteers have been regular (albeit small-dollar) donors. Alan Graham’s direct experience with the chronically homeless individuals of his community helped him gain a clear understanding of radical concept to address the root causes of chronic homelessness. His vision of affordable and sustainable housing in a hospitable community for hundreds of residents became known as CommunityFirst! Village. An initial pilot program had proven the concept with RV homes leading to 86% of residents remaining successfully housed. It was now time to raise significant funds to make the dream into a permanent reality.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes selected Mission Advancement over proposals from 3 other consulting firms. MLF was drawn to Mission Advancement’s relationship-based focus and unique campaign model. In order to achieve capacity giving from a key group of high net-worth individuals, Mission Advancement proposed a “less is more” approach that would deeply connect the hearts of these donors to the heart of the mission of CommunityFirst! Village.

The Solution

Mission Advancement engaged with Mobile Loaves & Fishes in a multi-pronged strategy to:

1. Identify a core group of approximately 30 donors and take time to learn about their personal passions and interests

2. Build a compelling case for support that would allow for individual donor experiences which leverage the unique vision of the 51-acre property

3. Create an appropriate strategy and timeline for campaign success with critical focus on coaching Alan Graham in best practices of personal donor.

The major tracks of activity from Mission Advancement included:

Logic Narrative – gathering data, stories, and other pertinent information that would serve as a foundation for campaign collateral and donor proposals

Campaign Leadership – enlisting and training key volunteer leaders who were responsible for cultivation and solicitation on a personal level

Resource Mapping – identifying the Top 30 donor prospects along with their potential capacity and personal connection to the campaign

Donor Planning – creating step-by-step cultivation plans unique to each individual donor

Campaign Awareness – preparing donor connection gatherings and a major groundbreaking ceremony

Personal Coaching – guiding Alan Graham and team in each step of executing their donor plans with advice, preparation, and even role-playing exercises

Strategy Adjustments – proactively working with campaign leadership to refine the campaign plan and ultimately preparing MLF staff for completion on their own

Annual Giving – advising on strategy, staff, and structure for growth in operational funding during and after the campaign

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