On Monday, February 27th, Children’s Hunger Alliance 22nd Annual Menu of Hope luncheon took place. This is the biggest annual fundraiser that Children’s Hunger Alliance organizes to gain the majority of funds needed to feed Ohio’s children, and assisting with its planning was my main purpose as a fellow. After months of learning exactly what the fundraising and development team does, it was amazing to see firsthand how all of their hard work paid off. Without this experience, I would not have learned what makes up the hours of hard work needed for obtaining support and donors, guest confirmations, script writing, table organization, etc. On Sunday night, I joined the team at the Hyatt to set up the event, and the significance of the event sunk in once I saw around 90 tables set up in a ballroom and the stage in place. I am grateful that I have learned about this field from a team of people that take their job very seriously. On the day of the event, I spent some time going around to each seat at each table to make sure that each place setting looked perfect, and that each guest would feel welcomed.
As someone who often thinks about things in a “big picture” way, this experience of being a fellow has really challenged me to look at the details. This was clear after seeing time and time again how one email to one person can make a huge difference in the success of the agency and the lives of the children they serve. When working with donors or guests prior, during, or even after the event, making sure each individual feels valued and that they have a positive experience can lead to enormous gains for an organization. While working on press releases or the new website, the focus is clearly on reaching the masses. Getting out the basic information about why Children’s Hunger Alliance is important and the great number of children they are able to feed to as many people as possible is essential. Other times, such as in personal conversation or events in the area, I have learned how important it is to be a steward of the work you are promoting. I underestimated the power of a specific story about one child and how their life has been directly impacted by the program, and how that story can touch one donor in a very powerful way.
At the event, John Quinones told the story of his own struggles growing up not always knowing where his next meal would come from. He talked about the resources and opportunities that got him to where he is today, recognizing that his situation and his success does not happen for most kids struggling with insecurity today. Mr. Quinones also talked about his show, “What Would You Do”, and I had a moment of personal reflection on how I can be more intentional about the things I do in my life. Working at Children’s Hunger Alliance has really helped me learn more about how huge of an issue that food insecurity and food access is for children in Ohio, and how damaging those limits can be on their development and life success. I have also learned how affordable it is to feed a child, and how I can contribute to that effort myself, and encourage those around me to follow. Even after my experience as a fellow ends, I will continue to think about CHA and how I can contribute to the efforts to feed Ohio’s children. The phrase, “If a hunger child asked you for food, what would you do?” is not going to get out of my head any time soon.
This month things are really starting to crank up for AIDS Walk Ohio here at Equitas Health. And I am sure I will say that again next month! Last week was the AIDS Walk Ohio Bar Crawl and it went fantastically! No major hiccups and everyone had a great time. There were a ton of walk-ups which means we made well over what we thought we were going to, which in the fundraising world is always fantastic. As we begin the push to really finalize details for AIDS Walk I am working on securing in-kind donations for our volunteers. Something that this department really focuses on, that I admire, is recognizing those that support us. Our volunteers, our sponsors, the bars that have helped out, all the vendors that will be assisting us the day of, all of our walkers and especially our Grand Walkers (those that raise over $1,000). We want to make sure they know how much we appreciate their help by giving them special shout-outs. I think this is both strategic and coming from a place of sincere gratitude. Without these people, Equitas Health and this Walk could not happen.
Something else I would like to discuss during this month’s blog post is AFP. I am currently the Secretary for the Association of Fundraising Professional’s collegiate chapter at The Ohio State University. I wanted to take the time to plug this group because 1. Anyone who is reading this blog is more than likely interested in fundraising and 2. I believe this club is so beneficial to all who are interested in pursuing any career in a nonprofit. This past semester we have had a career panel and a professional writing workshop with more professional mixers to come. I believe this club, for those attending Ohio State, is incredibly helpful. There are other collegiate chapters around, most close in proximity being Otterbein’s chapter, and there is a very active NextGen group who are young professionals in the field. We constantly get invited to AFP events and luncheons all at a reduced cost and most often for free. The subjects range from resume building, how to perfect the ask, how to negotiate a salary dialogue, and other professional development topics. If you have any interest or want to hear more please feel free to reach out to me or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something interesting about working on a smaller team is that a lot of cross collaboration happens. Every one on the development team has a specific role, whether that is gift processing, annual giving or capital campaigns, however, each team member knows the other projects and often helps coworkers.
I have worked with other corporation in the past, and due to scale, people focus a lot more on their individual tasks and not so much cross-collaboration occurs. There are many benefits to this phenomenon such as a higher sense of purpose since each worker touches and understands every aspect of the operation, as well as higher overall productivity by preventing boredom from repetitive tasks.
Personally, I have benefited from this by having the opportunity to learn new skill and be exposed to many areas within the organization.
My main task when I started was to work with the capital campaign team to plan the silent phase of the Dublin campaign. Throughout my time at CML, I have also helped with building additional lists, analyzing data from previous events, and using queries to find relevant information.
I am excited to keep learning and hopefully to keep helping CML as well.
At the Foodbank I have been making a lot of steady progress on my project of creating Development Marketing pieces. These pieces focus on several different vulnerable populations and how the issue of food insecurity affects that population, as well as how the work of the food distribution network supported by Mid-Ohio Foodbank aims to address this issue and provide individuals with the fresh, healthy food they need.
In addition to the work at our organizations, we fellows also have access to networking opportunities through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). I recently attended one of the monthly educational events that AFP puts on. This month’s theme was Metrics and Major Gifts and featured a presentation and discussion facilitated by a fundraising professional. Honestly it was a bit intimidating being the youngest and least experienced person in the room, but I was lucky to have another fellow with me, and a couple of my colleagues from the Foodbank saved us a spot at their table. It was a great experience just observing the presentation and learning from the other fundraising professionals’ insights. I also met some individuals from other organizations that were eager to share their knowledge and experience with me, and I was surprised to hear about the diversity of career opportunities available in Fundraising. Although there were a few topics of conversation and ideas that I did not completely comprehend (again, due to my lack of experience in fundraising), I was grateful for the Fellowship for giving me the opportunity to attend and get exposure to new ideas. I walked away excited at the thought of pursuing a career in Fundraising and Development. I hope to attend future events!
Until next time,
Well this month is full of problem solving and working with our top fundraisers to make sure they are happy. Programs and planning are driving at full force and we are working on sending out our tear pads to bars as another way to raise incremental dollars.
In the process of making these tear pads I re-learned that hand-eye coordination is vital in all tasks. I lost a good chunk of my fingernail to the paper cutter and I was a bit of mess while my lovely co-worker helped me out. (Have I mentioned how amazing the people are here?) Anyway we are moving forward and I attempting to contribute to this project in other ways that do not involved very sharp blades.
This week I am focusing on registering teams and working on behind the scenes tasks. One of my favorite aspects of working the development field is the traveling. While I am by no means doing week-long excursions, even just traveling to different work places, meetings across town and bars to work with donors has been stimulating and keeps the days feeling new and exciting! There is always something new happening and a new problem to conquer.
Undergoing a significant capital campaign requires a broad base of big donors. From what I have seen so far, these donors come in three different categories:
- Current supporters
- Friends on supporters
The categories are arranged in order of how likely they are to support the campaign and how easy they are to reach. The first two categories are very self explanatory. Current supporters already understand and connect to the mission and vision of your cause. You also already have an established communication channel, so it is easier to make new requests and get additional support. It is simple to see why they are the best group to work with. Most times, however, this group is limited so the next category is made up of their friends and connections. The hardest part in development is to initiate relationships, and having a reference makes it a lot easier to start as compared to a cold call or email.
For big capital campaigns, however, the first two categories of donors are not always enough and you have to work harder to start relationships with strangers. Strangers are people in certain communities with capacity to give, who don’t have any current connection to your cause or current supporters. Creativity is key in order to help initiate this relationship.
For my project in Dublin specifically, one creative idea the team has identified to successfully engage strangers is to 3D print small models of the new Dublin branch and send it to potential donors in order to peak their interest and ensure that they will read our materials. For the next couple months, one of my side projects will be to ensure this happens and identify other creative opportunities.
I wrote about this because I never thought of this as a part of development, but I find it very interesting.
This blog should’ve been posted a while ago, but with the new year and last semester of school, things got a bit crazy.
One of the most interesting things I learned this month, regarding fundraising, is how powerful bringing the community together can be. I learned this after seeing what happened in Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is supposed to be a day where people help their communities by donating money. Leveraging the use of social media, many organizations communicate with their constituents to and try to maximize the number of donations during that day. This is very popular and effective because many people like to donate towards the end of the year so this is a good time. Additionally, this happens around the Holidays and many people participate, so others feel as if not only are they helping but they are also joining in a movement.
To capitalize on this idea of a movement, one donor called the library and said he would donate $5,000 that day, only if other donors could match the amount. Typically, matching gifts are much larger and come from known donors in the community. This time, it didn’t happen this way, but since it was Giving Tuesday, it was easy for the library to spread the word online and reach a lot of people. Various donors started to feel as if they were working together towards meeting the $5,000 goal. The excitement of working together with others and the strong desire to reach the goal even prompted some donors to call and ask about the status of the goal because they were ready to donate again in order to succeed.
I write about his because I thought t was a very interesting and successful movement, and it shows how much greater things can be accomplished when people work together and they work under the right incentives.