Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Jean Kurth of the Bay Area Humane Society

This volunteer doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty 

Anybody who has ever worked or volunteered in an animal shelter knows just how nasty the laundry can be, and how quickly it piles up. This week’s Charitable Superhero tackles one of the grossest shelter tasks, and amazingly shows up to do it every single week—and has for years.

Jean Kurth’s weekly laundry tackling is a fundamental part of the Bay Area Humane Society’s work. Tanya Zwick, CVT Program Manager at the Bay Area Humane Society explains just how much the shelter relies on Jean:

“This dedicated, hardworking lady has been coming to the shelter every week for longer than we've had a computer to track volunteers. She washes, dries, and folds the mountains of laundry that the shelter animals create. BAHS is very lucky to have a wonderful volunteer like Jean.”

The Bay Area Humane Society provides many services beyond helping animals find forever homes and people find the joy of adding furry friends to their families. The organization also provides access to low-cost services like vaccine clinics, and reuniting pets with their lost families. The broad range of services offered makes the Bay Area Humane Society as much of a cornerstone of the local community as Jean is to the organization.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Create Sustainability with Community-centric Fundraising

Donor-centric fundraising is outdated. 

We all hear a lot about donor-centric fundraising and the importance of nurturing donor relationships, of having a customer-service attitude when it comes to financial supporters and volunteers. The problem with this attitude is that it’s outward facing. Donor-centric fundraising keeps supporters at arms-length, in essence telling them that they are apart from the organization. Though many of the same ideals of donor-centric fundraising apply, there is a better way. Community-centric fundraising builds on the best practices of donor-centric fundraising, but makes supporters part of the organization, rather than apart from it.

Let’s admit it: we often don’t want our supporters too close to our work because we don’t want to have to listen to their ideas and criticism with a smile. What we often forget in the daily grind is that we likely couldn’t continue our work without these supporters. We forget that they are just trying to help because they care about the work the organization does and they see us as their teammates in meeting the mission goals. Community-centric fundraising turns supporters into teammates, growing the bond between them and the organization, all while creating sustainability, generating revenue, and lowering operating costs.
Just like donor-centric fundraising, community-centric fundraising begins with an attitude shift to viewing every contact with every supporter as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. You’re not after a one-time donation, you’re after a lifetime of contributions. Those contributions don’t only come in the form of money. Volunteers and people who will spread your message are as vital to the mission as financial contributors.

Remember to update your supporters as often as possible. Newsletters are a great way to communicate longer pieces of information, but using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and HuTerra to share news puts your message in front of supporters with little effort on either part. Don’t wait for the big announcements. Let your supporters know what the organization does daily to work for the mission. Small daily updates provide transparency, and make supporters feel like they really know the organization and the people who work for it.

Get to know supporters by name, and get them to learn the names of the people working at your organization. Donors give more when they make a human connection, and volunteers are much more likely to show up if they feel welcome. An empty smile when they come in and a mumbled thank-you when they leave does not create a sense of community. Take your time and nurture these relationships—you’ll get more from supporters for the effort.

Perhaps even more important than individual contributions is turning supporters into advocates for your organization. You want them to know about the organization and the work it does so that they can spread the word. Educate supporters on the data so they can answer questions. Prepare them to speak on the organization’s behalf, then ask them to help you spread the word.

You can use social networks to ask for help. Offer your supporters some information about the organization, like a great infographic, and ask them to share it with their friends and families. Ask them to share their testimonials about the organization. Ask them to take a few minutes to fundraise on the organization’s behalf.
Too often, we focus on asking the individual donor for money. We should also ask them to share links to the fundraisers. Community-centric fundraising goes beyond that. It gives supporters the tools to get imaginative and create fundraisers that support the organization. Enabling existing supporters to fundraise on the organization’s behalf, in their own way, gets your mission message out to a much larger audience than the one your development director can access. It also creates revenue with little work on the organization’s behalf.

By making supporters part of the organization, rather than apart from it, you mobilize an untapped workforce for the cause. Free onlinefundraising tools allow supporters to create their own fundraisers for you organization, and they never have to touch the money. That means that the more your supporters fundraise, the more donations show up, and the more resources you have available for building donor relationships so more supporters will fundraise on your behalf.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Linda T. Funk with Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen

Volunteering is a full-time job for Linda Funk, who won't rest until everybody's been fed. 

Many people have seen the movie Elizabethtown, wherein Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst fall in love amongst the beauty that is small town Kentucky. Some of the culture shown in the movie is fairly accurate. But what the movie doesn't show is the struggling side of one of Kentucky's most beautiful, adored, small towns.

Like every town and city in the country, Elizabethtown is not without those who struggle financially to put food on the table. This week's Charitable Superhero has made it her full-time volunteer job to help every person in need in Elizabethtown get a hot meal every weekday. Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen goes beyond cooking. Their idea of serving includes meal delivery, friendship, and transportation to and from dinner each weeknight. When their trusty old van broke down recently, Mrs. Funk went on a PR tour of the community, spreading the word that many people would go without if the van wasn't replaced quickly. Her PR campaign worked well enough for Warm Blessings to put a sizable down payment on a new (used) van.

When interviewed for this article, Mrs. Funk didn't want the spotlight on herself. Here, she tells about the history and mission of Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen. It's a story to rival Orlando and Kirsten's movie romance tale.

Warm Blessings Shelter of Hope is a non- profit (501c3) organization. The founders, John and Kathleen Chadbourne who remained involved with the program until 2007, had the vision to offer meals to people in need and shelter to those in crisis. Through their efforts, the Ministry incorporated on October 23, 2005.
 The Kitchen opened on July 17, 2006, operating out of the basement of College Heights UMC in Elizabethtown KY. Hot meals were served three nights a week due to the need to work around activities at the Church. The first night only two patrons showed up. At the close of the year, 1,542 meals had been served. At the end of the first full year of operation 3,841 meals had been provided. On December 2009, after renovating the new site, the program moved to 609 E. Dixie Hwy. in Elizabethtown KY; and served the first meal in the new building on December 14, 2009. Almost immediately, the program added four nights weekly and several months later began serving every weeknight. On February 22, 2011, a mortgage was signed and deed received on this property and in June 2012, within 14 months, the mortgage was paid off.
 Warm Blessings continues to offer a hot meal weeknights to people struggling to stretch food dollars and to provide some comfort to those living marginally. Recent totals have been approximately 1400 meals served monthly. Our community has no public transportation other than a cab service, which charges $10.00 one way. In the past 6 months, 70 people who have no transportation or unreliable transportation have ridden the Warm Blessings van to the Kitchen. Between 18 and 26 people ride the van nightly. There are six van drivers and each night there are 8 to 10 volunteers serving and cleaning up. In a month, there are 24 people rotating in and out of the kitchen preparing the meal and a total of over 125 volunteers who team together to operate the program amounting to over 700 hours of volunteer time monthly.
 In September 2012, Warm Blessings added meal delivery on Mondays and Thursdays to seniors who are shut-in. There are currently 23 volunteers who deliver these meals to 36 seniors who live alone and are frail due to age or illness. Volunteers who deliver the meals also serve as a safety net for many seniors who have few others who check on them regularly. Other services include use of a washer and dryer by appointment, showers, food bags, as well as sleeping bags and mats as needed, and personal items are distributed regularly. For more information about Warm Blessings see Facebook, or visit www.warmblessingsinc.com.
 Two major fundraisers for the program are an Empty Bowls Lunch, which reminds people that some people’s bowls are “empty”, and Cardboard Nation, which is a sleep in a box event to raise funds and awareness to poverty and homelessness. Twenty percent of the patrons of Warm Blessings report being homeless within the past year.
 The Executive Director of Warm Blessings is Linda Funk. Linda has been involved with Warm Blessings as a Board member and volunteer since its inception in 2005, first participating as a social service representative and in 2007 as Treasurer. In late 2007, she was elected Board Chairperson at which time she began managing the program. She recruits volunteers, manages volunteer activities to include cooking, serving, clean up, van driving, food and supply shopping, building repairs, and coordinates all aspects of the program.  She has expanded the program by adding nights and implementing senior meal delivery.  Early on Linda acquired an old van for the program to allow pick up for those without reliable transportation and enjoyed getting better acquainted with patrons by driving one night a week for 2 1/2 years. She manages fundraising and organizes fundraisers, manages social media sites, radio and newspaper media promotion, and promotes the program through public speaking engagements. Through these efforts, the program renovated a new building, moved to the renovated site, paid off all debts and the mortgage giving Warm Blessings ownership of the new site. Through Linda’s leadership, the program has recently signed an agreement to purchased lots in the back of the property to expand what is now limited parking space and possibly other program growth.
According to Linda, she believes in the mission of Warm Blessings, to serve people living in poverty with compassion and dignity. She states the scripture Matthew 25:40 drives her, where Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” As a reminder to volunteers and patrons at Warm Blessings, that doing for “the least of these” is like doing for Jesus, you will find this scripture painted on one of the walls at the Warm Blessings program.

You can help Warm Blessings continue to provide transportation service by supporting their online fundraiser. Elizabethtown is lucky to have this Charitable Superhero and all the Warm Blessings volunteers supporting the community. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 Tips to Maximize Giving with a Fundraising Competition

Holding a fundraising competition with another nonprofit organization can increase support for both organizations. What is billed as a competition is actually a collaborative effort to raise funds, extend support networks, and increase awareness for a mutual cause. Here are five tips to pulling off an effective online fundraising competition.
  1. Team up with a complimentary organization focused on the same issue. This helps extend both organizations’ support networks in the long run as each organization’s existing supporters learn about the other.
  2. Collaborate on spreading the word and share marketing materials. Working together pools resources and encourages creativity. In a recently launched competition, animal welfare nonprofits in Wisconsin Cats Anonymous and Wish Upon a Paw, teamed up to create a video rallying their combined supporters to join the competition and support their chosen charity. The video is funny and expresses the competitive concept while illustrating the importance of coming together for an important cause.
  3. Culminate the competition in a joint event. This can be anything from a dog walk, to a Super Spay Day, to an awards dinner honoring cause advocates in the area. Invite supporters and the local press to participate.
  4.  Send out a joint press release. Two similar organizations working together to increase impact is more newsworthy than one organization doing what it does every day. Joint press releases are more likely to be noticed by local outlets and raise awareness for both organizations.
  5. Provide links to supporters via social media. Even more important than the cash total at the end of the competition is the increase in your engaged support base. Help existing supporters connect to the cause by engaging them in a Community for your nonprofit. Then, ask them to share the message and links to the Community and fundraising competition with their social networks via all social media outlets, email, and word of mouth. Provide daily updates so supporters are encouraged to give a little extra to help their team get ahead.
Fundraising competitions can be as complex or simple as the participating organizations want to make them. The goal is to raise money while building cause awareness and expanding both organizations’ supporter networks. Have fun with it and you won’t regret the effort.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Charitable Superhero of the Week: Ms. Ashley White

What happens when work and volunteering mix? A deeper understanding of the organization's mission. 

Ms. Ashley White interns at Wisconsin's Breast Cancer Family Foundation, an organization that provides educational programming to students and the community about cancer risk factors and the importance of early detection. In her internship, Ashley works on the organization's social media messaging and community building. But Ashley's always there to lend a volunteer hand when the organization needs a Charitable Superhero off the clock. Ashley says she volunteers because she has been blessed and wants to help others:
"I volunteer because I have been blessed with so much in my life and I want to share that with others. I want everyone to have access to things that make their lives easier, better, and happier. Currently I am working with Green Bay’s Breast Cancer Family Foundation social media, event planning, and public relations.  Currently we are getting prepared for the Titletown Bike Tour in July. Working with this non-profit organization has been such a rewarding experience. I have had the privilege to learn from and work with so many people who have battled Breast Cancer with amazing courage and strength; they are the true heroes."
The Titletown Bike Tour is one of the Breast Cancer Family Foundation's largest annual fundraisers. It draws a sizable crowd of cyclists from Wisconsin and surrounding states. Since it began in 2001, the event has raised over $500,000 to support the Breast Cancer Family Foundation's outreach programs. Ashley describes the event as inspirational:

"Last year I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Titletown Bike Tour for the first time. It was an inspiring experience, to say the least. There were people from all over Wisconsin, and even surrounding states.  From families to competitive bikers the turn out was diverse.  However each biker, no matter how small, was there to support cancer prevention in the heat of July!  I met people that truly inspired me with their drive to finish the race and positive attitudes.  It is difficult to put into words the kind-hearted people you meet at events like this, especially when you get to talk to them as a volunteer. Can’t wait for July 14th, 2013 to experience it again!"
There is still time to volunteer, donate, or ride in this year's Titletown Bike Tour. Visit http://bcff.org/titletown_information.php for more information and be on the lookout for this week's Charitable Superhero at the event!