Startup Snapshot: Big Bang for Your Buck

By: Dick Anderson
Startup Snapshot: Big Bang for Your Buck

Dionne Jackson, MBA ’09: Million Dollar Moxie

Dionne Jackson has raised a lot of money for Vassar College, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), and Lehigh University. But she’d never added it all up until she thought about going out on her own. Doing the math on the back of an envelope, she soon realized that she and her teams had raised over $100 million — hence the nickname “The $100 Million Woman.”

That’s a heck of a hook for her new business: Million Dollar Moxie, a Philadelphia-based boutique consulting firm dedicated to delivering high-impact fundraising on a limited budget. One way to do that is through technology: In an otherwise flat 2016 for philanthropy, donations received online or through mobile devices grew by double digits. “Our specialty is bringing in big gifts,” Jackson says, “but any organization that is not leveraging technology is leaving money on the table.”

“Any organization that is not leveraging technology is leaving money on the table.”

Jackson’s Million Dollar Moxie story begins in 2012, when she was vice president for institutional advancement at financially strapped UVI. Her Cornell MBA education “really came in handy,” she says, in implementing an effective organizational structure and strategic plan for fundraising. There, she booked a school-record $5 million gift of real estate, including a quarter mile of beachfront on Hendricks Bay.

Since leaving her most recent job as assistant vice president for leadership gifts at Lehigh last November to run Million Dollar Moxie full time, Jackson has been busy planning seminars for fundraising professionals and volunteers in Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. Word of mouth has generated queries from California, Texas, and New Mexico. Closer to home, she’s working on a $2 million capital campaign for a church.

One surprise is “how many people think that fundraisers work on commission,” Jackson says with a laugh. “If I’d been working on commissions all these years, my life would be set.”