Sadly, the Nonprofit World has Lost a True Fundraising Trailblazer

I knew him for decades. He profoundly affected my life. Whether you know it or not, he affected your life, too. He dramatically changed the way nonprofit organizations approach fundraising. And he did so much more.

Unfortunately, we all experienced a loss when William P. Freyd, 87, passed away on August 20, 2020, following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

William P. Freyd (1933 – 2020)

This month is the 47th anniversary of when Bill founded Institutional Development Counsel, a major-gift consulting practice. In 1977, Bill, and the company he created, went on to partner with Yale University on a trailblazing project. While fundraising phonathons, of one sort or another, have been with us for a very long time, telephone fundraising, as we know it today, can be traced back to that collaboration.

Bill developed the first personalized methodology for the public phase of a capital campaign. Yale combined the use of letters and telephone calls to simulate the steps used in major-gift cultivation and appeals. Since then, thousands of universities and medical centers have used the IDC Phone/Mail Telecommunications approach worldwide to raise millions. The company itself employed hundreds of people and inspired the creation of other telephone fundraising agencies, including my own.

In 1982, shortly after our innovative, successful work on the Temple University Centennial Challenge Campaign’s telephone program, Stephen Schatz and I founded Telefund Management, later renamed The Development Center. Because we were following in the footsteps of IDC and had other very good competitors, we had to continue to be innovative not only to survive but also to thrive. Good enough would never be good enough with Bill as a competitor. Yet, despite being competitors, we always found Bill to be friendly and fair during our own successful journey. I always appreciated that about him, along with his quick wit.

Yes, Bill’s work led to my work. However, Bill’s impact on my life and Steve’s life did not end there. On a personal note, I need to mention that Steve and I both met our wives through our work at The Development Center. If it were not for Bill, there would have been no Development Center. If there were no Development Center, we likely would never have met our wives.

Since 2016, Bill served as Chairman Emeritus of Catapult Fundraising, Inc. His advice and counsel were instrumental in the company’s launch. Catapult is led by Anthony Alonso and Diane Carlson, Bill’s wife and former Chairwoman at IDC.

The nonprofit world experienced Bill’s impact in other ways as well. He served as a member of the original committee that developed the CFRE credential for fundraising professionals. He also was instrumental in the development of the ethical standards that remain in place today for our profession.

​His work in the nonprofit sector earned a number of awards including the SAGE Award from the American Association of Fundraising Counsel (now known as the Giving Institute), and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Las Vegas Chapter. He was a long-term member of AFP and was a Past President of the AFP Greater New York Chapter. Active in the community, Bill served as Board Chairman of the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

May we all take inspiration from Bill’s life and work, remembering to bring our best to our organizations, profession, and communities. Together, we can help heal the world.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nathan Adelson Hospice, Las Vegas.

You can find a full obituary by The Las Vegas Review Journal by clicking here.

May Bill Freyd’s memory be for a blessing.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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