Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fundraising Giant Bill Hanrahan Passes Away

William B. (Bill) Hanrahan, one of the fundraising profession’s true pioneers and statesmen, passed away late Monday, Aug. 17.

There’s so much I could say about Bill. He was such a force in the profession and was committed to the ideals of philanthropy and ethical fundraising. I know those kinds of words get used a lot, but in Bill’s case, it’s the truth. When you have a relatively young profession like fundraising, there are people who have literally created the profession and helped develop the key touchstones of our work. Bill was one of those people.

He served in the profession for more than 40 years. He actually joined Community Counselling Service (now known as CCS) as an office clerk and worked up the ladder of the firm to become one of the principal owners in the 1970s. He helped CCS become one of the biggest and most experienced firms in the profession. His work guided some of the largest and most well-known charities in the world.

Despite all that work though, Bill always had time to mentor people, and I think that’s probably the lasting image I will have of him. If you’ve looked at CCS staff over the years, Bill was never afraid to hire good, smart young people, mentor them and let them spread their wings. It was no surprise to me that Bill and CCS jumped at the chance to sponsor AFP’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional award because he always wanted to highlight the great work of others.

I first met Bill when he served as fundraising counsel to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) over 15 years ago. We became friends from that time on, and my respect and admiration for Bill, and his commitment to the profession, has only grown. I had the great opportunity to work closely with him during his 8 years on the board of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy Board.

During this time, I witnessed Bill’s enormous passion and commitment to AFP and the fundraising profession. He took on many challenges during his year as chairman of the foundation, and through his influence and statesmanship many changes were made that have served AFP well over the years.

Bill was to receive the AFP Founders’ Medallion in October at our Leadership Academy, and I will be eternally sad that I will never be able to present it to him in person. No one was more deserving.

If you’d like to remember Bill, the family is asking you consider a donation to the Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization that will receive donations in his honor. Please mark "In memory of William B. Hanrahan" and mail to: Little Sisters of the Poor, 110-30 221st Street, Queens Village, NY 11420; or Little Sisters of the Poor, 2999 Schurz Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465. You can also make a contribution in his memory to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.

I was always honored to count Bill as a friend and colleague, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. He offered me advice and counsel when I needed it, and sometimes even a shoulder to lean on. He was not just as a great fundraiser, but also a great mentor and person. We’ll miss you, Bill!


  1. Michelangelo InfurnariAugust 30, 2009 at 6:18 PM

    Bill was the best -- he challenged everyone he mentored, he gave clients the straight answers that cut to the question, and he always had an idea, a precedent, a solution -- and it was usually "get out there and ask someone for a big gift". Those of us who came through CCS and were fortunate enought to work with him and under him, owe their careers, and to some extent, their personal success to Bill. Rest in peace.

  2. In the earliest days of IDC, founded by me in New Jersey, Bill was fund raising counsel to the Archdiocese of Newark and I had been asked by the Archdiocese’s Permanent Diaconate Program to be their fund raising counsel. But first, the Archdiocese said, we had to get Bill's approval. Bill came down, listened to our plans and did, in fact, give his approval. Much later, he said to me, "I had no idea that I was starting a dynasty on that day." He did, and we will always be grateful for his kindness. Go now with God.

    William Freyd

  3. I know Bill from my MSBT (Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity)days and truly treasured his help along with Tom Flatley's for our first ever capital campaign. He was a not only a leader but also a coach in my early fundraising days! Thank you, Bill!
    Margaret Guellich, CFRE

  4. Bill was so special to those with a track record in the field and to those new to the profession. His friendly demeanor made everyone feel important. He will be missed but leaves a legacy for us to follow.
    Sharon LeeMaster CFRE, San Diego

  5. Armando Galella, CFRE, Fort MyersSeptember 2, 2009 at 7:24 AM

    I didn't know Bill personally but through two other great fund raising pioneers who did, Father Morton Hill, SJ and Francis X. Murphy. They spoke of him at many times. I know he is sharing stories with them now in eternity. The conversation probably starts with the simple interrogation,, "So did you get the gift?". Rest in peace all.

  6. Bill was a visionary and helped raised the sights of those who worked with him. I first met him in early 90s when I hired him to lead the children's campaign at Eastern Maine Medical Center. I had an email from him just a couple of weeks before he passed. He always had time to mentor and encourage me. I will miss him.
    Penny Harris, CFRE, Portland, Maine