Home / Blog

YNPN RVA Spotlight: Great Nonprofit Bosses Part 2

great-bosses-spotlight-2-full

It’s the time of year for giving thanks – and we want to say a big “thank you” to all of the fantastic leaders in our local nonprofit sector!  This week’s “Spotlight” is from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA (YNPN RVA).  Over the past several weeks, YNPN RVA sent out a call to young nonprofit professionals all over Greater Richmond to nominate their boss to be recognized as a part of the “Great Nonprofit Bosses” Initiative.  In total, 37 bosses were nominated by 57 different young nonprofit professionals; from that group, a YNPN RVA panel selected the top 9 outstanding and compelling nominations.  You can get even more insight from our local great nonprofit bosses on November 30th at the YNPN RVA celebration at Postbellum – register here.

You can also read part 1 of YNPN RVA’s Spotlight on Great Nonprofit Bosses.

 

 Dr. Shantell Malachi, Executive Director, Dress for Success Central Virginia         

shantell-malachi

Q. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

I believe empathy is the one quality that makes me a great boss. I believe empathy is the complement to honesty/trust and when there is empathy and trust it’s so much easier to build great working relationships.

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

The first thing I look for in a person in a leadership position is creativity. During interviews one of my favorite questions to ask is “how would you change our current way of doing things?” and I love studying how creative leaders lead their organizations during periods of change.

Here’s what Shantell’s colleagues had to say about her:

As the Executive Director of Dress for Success Central Virginia, Shantell has made it her personal mission to move the women we serve forward in life and in work. That mission extends to her staff. She motivates us daily to pursue our passions and walk in our purpose. She is selfless and humble. It is so refreshing to know that when I have a problem, whether personal or professional, that I have a boss that is willing to listen, offer honest advice, and help me follow through with my decisions. She gets more joy out of seeing others succeed than I think she ever will for herself.  Watching her interact with our clients is like watching a big sister help a little sister. Most clients don’t even know that she’s the boss until someone else tells them.  There isn’t any job in the office that she won’t do… even cleaning the bathroom!

Shantell has grown Dress for Success so much in 5 years that it’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago we were operating out of a basement and her garage. When staff and even our Board could not see the big picture she never lost her enthusiasm and went above and beyond to motivate us to strive for greater. Her drive is infectious!

Amanda Kennedy, Chief Advancement Officer, St. Andrew’s School     

amanda-kennedy  

Q.What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

This is a funny question. I don’t know that I’d say I am a great boss (I’d say I work hard to listen and be present with the staff) but since you are asking and my staff seems to think so I’d say the following….

I listen and respond to the unique needs and interests of the members of my staff. I also treat them how I’d like to be treated. I believe that if I nurture their unique interests (work-related and beyond) that they will be happy, do a great job and want to come to work each day.

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

I look for honesty and kindness, a willingness to teach and learn, and a willingness to try new things. I also look for common sense and compassion. I believe that we can all learn from each other and have the capacity to lead from anywhere we sit within an organization.

Here’s what Amanda’s colleagues had to say about her:

Amanda operates with a great deal of trust in all of her supervisees and teammates. She fully realizes that she cannot do it all herself, and she advocates for the capacity that the team and organization needs to strategically move forward. Not only that, but she respects each of her supervisees and teammates for their unique talents and areas of expertise, and relies on this, rather than micromanagement or hovering, to supervise.

Amanda believes in constant learning and improvement and supports each of her supervisees by providing a generous professional development budget and the time to go out and use it. Additionally, she highly values work-life balance and encourages all of her supervisees to manage their own time. She is a model of what it means to build a high performing, autonomous team.

Melanie Seiler, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University         

melanie-seiler

Q. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

Flexibility. I believe my team will always do their best so I give the freedom to succeed.

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

For me, work ethic is key for successful leaders. Leaders should be an example for their team to follow.

Here’s what Melanie’s colleagues had to say about her:

Melanie is an exceptional leader. She advocates for her team, doing the best she can to send us to conferences, helping us to grow in our roles (or to change roles if it’s in our best interest) and standing up for us when necessary. Melanie trusts us to make good choices as subject matter experts rather than micromanaging us. She inspires creativity and doesn’t discourage us from questioning the reason or way things are done.

Melanie respects work/life balance, encourages us to take time away from the office and truly cares about her team on a personal level. She treats us as family, regularly organizing outside-of-work events, team lunches, birthday celebrations and more. Melanie communicates openly and honestly with a positive outlook. What’s more, she is truly wonderful at what she does. I have the utmost respect for how great she is at her job and how much she can handle while simultaneously being an excellent manager. She is always willing to help. Before I worked for her, I wanted to. And now that I do, I would be happy to have her as my boss for the long haul.

Vanessa Reyes, VISTA Supervisor, Virginia Mentoring Partnership

vreyes-blog

 Here’s what Vanessa’s colleagues had to say about her:

Vanessa is one of the best supervisors I’ve ever worked with. Every meeting with her involves active listening, collaborative working, and respect. I feel valued in every project I work with her on. She actively considers my professional development and work-life balance through open and honest conversation and sharing of resources.

She adapts well to challenges and is flexible with changing our approaches to difficult tasks to foster the most constructive outcomes possible for all involved parties. She empowers me to develop into a stronger leader and more effective communicator. Through her support, I feel more confident in professional skills and optimistic about my ability to achieve future professional development goals. I feel so grateful and fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her.

Ken Seward, Headmaster, Good Shepherd Episcopal School     

kseward-blog

 Here’s what Ken’s colleagues had to say about him:

Ken Seward leads and serves the Good Shepherd Episcopal School community. He brings his own creative, innovative ideas, and encourages others to express and share and pursue their interests.

Ken works to understand individual children, families, and teachers. He also understands the dynamics within groups and encourages constituents to work together to build consensus. It is a pleasure to work with Mr. Seward.

 

View all of the great nonprofit bosses who were nominated here and RSVP to join YNPN RVA in a celebration on November 30th at Postbellum from 5:30pm- 7:30pm .  For event registration (it’s open and free to all), click here

ynpn-rva-great-bosses-celebration

Read more →

 

YNPN RVA Spotlight: Great Nonprofit Bosses part 1

It’s the time of year for giving thanks – and we want to say a big “thank you” to all of the fantastic leaders in our local nonprofit sector!  This week’s “Spotlight” is from the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network RVA (YNPN RVA).  Over the past several weeks, YNPN RVA sent out a call to young nonprofit professionals all over Greater Richmond to nominate their boss to be recognized as a part of the “Great Nonprofit Bosses” Initiative.  In total, 37 bosses were nominated by 57 different young nonprofit professionals;  from that group, a YNPN RVA panel selected the top 9 outstanding and compelling nominations.  You can get even more insight from our local great nonprofit bosses on November 30th at the YNPN RVA celebration at Postbellum – register here.

Jessica Lacks, Program Manager – CHIP of Greater Richmond, Family Lifeline      

jlacksQ. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

 I am my team members’ greatest advocate by always creating a safe, validating space to share their feelings and ideas, and being committed to providing an avenue for that feedback.

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

I look for individuals committed to the organization and its mission, who are thoughtful, culturally competent, able to self-reflect in their role, contribute to positive team dynamics, and hold themselves to a high standard within their own professional development goals.

 Here’s what Jessica’s colleagues had to say about her:

The CHIP employees at Family Lifeline wanted to nominate our Program Manager, Jessica Lacks, for the YNPN RVA Great Boss Award. There are 16 CHIP team members, including parent educators, community health nurses and social workers, and one afternoon we sat down to discuss why Ms. Lacks is so deserving of this award. As we took turns telling our personal and professional experiences with Ms. Lacks, common themes were emerging; supportive, passionate, efficient and trustworthy. We all felt that we are treated as individuals and accepted for who we are.

 Like most non-profit work, our jobs are hard. We work with families and communities that are disenfranchised, traumatized and trying to do the best that they can. Most of us work in the helping profession because we care about social injustice and want to empower the vulnerable and oppressed. While this is the core of our belief, some days it feels like we never make a difference and change is not happening. It is on these days that Ms. Lacks feels like a rare gift in management; she listens, validates and encourages. She encourages self-reflection and doesn’t flinch if we push back against it.

Ms. Lacks gives her attention to detail, which is shown when she creates a tool to help a worker become more organized. She is also highly skilled in managing conflict and handling difficult situations with patience and understanding. She is often juggling competing requests from senior management and staff members, but is able to do it with skilled interpersonal skills.  In addition to her role as program manager, Ms. Lacks believes in home visiting services and works tirelessly as an advocate on behalf of Family Lifeline. She does this by sitting on the Home Visiting Consortium committees, offering support and feedback. She also speaks to the General Assembly about the success rate of home visiting and advocating for funding.  These are only a few examples of why we value and appreciate the hard work Ms. Lacks does for her staff and the organization. We are good because she makes us good. We are strong because she makes us strong.

 

Honesty Liller, Chief Executive Officer, The McShin Foundation 

hliller

Q. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

The ability to lead by example not by demand.

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

I personally think a leader should have a heart, be open-minded, a good listener, and be willing to show her community how to change through her passion in life/job position.

Here’s what Honesty’s colleagues had to say about her:

My experience working at McShin has been amazing, and much of that is thanks to Honesty Liller. Because of the nature of our work, we are often faced with the negative consequences of addiction, which can take an emotional toll. Honesty has the ability to remind us of the hope and the positivity that recovery brings to individuals and families, which counteracts the disappointment and frustration.

 She is a living embodiment of the hope and positivity that can lead to a beautiful life in recovery. Honesty has created a work environment where the seriousness of the disease we fight against is balanced with laughter, joy and an understanding of self-care. She is a role model for the participants and a reminder of what they can achieve if they chase recovery. For the staff, she is a confidant, a listener, a teacher, a mentor and a friend. Her confidence in herself and her ability to lead such a successful non-profit makes everyone feel comfortable and motivated.

 In addition to her role as CEO, Honesty is a loving wife and amazing mother to her two children. Honesty is a face and voice of recovery that people struggling can relate to and she uses her family, career, health and happiness to show that recovery can offer unimaginable gifts.

 

Sara Conlon, Executive Director, OAR of Richmond      

sconlonQ. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

My ability to listen to staff.  It’s easy to get carried away with talking and giving advice, but listening is key.  I find that when I just sit and listen, my staff often come up with their own excellent answers.  I believe in empowering others!

Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

 I look for someone that leads by example.  Someone that is trustworthy. I also appreciate a leader with confidence and humility.  

Here’s what Sara’s colleagues had to say about her:

Sara is a very caring boss who not only understands but she is also willing to go the extra mile that it takes to get you to the point of where everyone should be. She has a passion for the work that she does here and is a very strong leader.

Sara is an absolute dream of an executive director.  Not only does she work to ensure everyone feels that they have value and a voice here at OAR, she opens the door for all of our staff and clients to access greater opportunities to grow in our professional and personal lives, ensuring that we work hard to accomplish our goals, but also make time for ourselves outside of the office.  She brings years of experience in her field, and has built an amazing team here at OAR that works seamlessly to help those reentering the Richmond community.  I have never felt better leadership and support from another director, and it’s truly a joy to work with and for her.

 I believe Sara Conlon is a great boss because she runs our organization in a way that allows for input from all angles.  A great boss is able to take constructive criticism and change accordingly.  I also feel that a great boss is able to create an energy for their staff to feel comfortable in approaching them about anything that they may need or want to discuss.  OAR of Richmond has a great environment not only for staff but for participants of our program and I believe Sara Conlon has made it her mission to make that so.

 

 

 

Lee Householder, CEO, project:HOMES 


lhouseholder

Q. What’s one quality you have that makes you a great boss?

 Humility.

 Q. What do you look for in a person in a leadership position?

 Adaptability, Flexibility, Vision, Creativity, Self-awareness, and desire to learn and grown.

 Here’s what Lee’s colleagues had to say about him:

 Since 2008, Lee has been the CEO at project:HOMES. In that time, our agency has seen tremendous growth both in geographical size and community impact. Just last year project:HOMES improved the lives of over 2,000 individuals, all of which would not have been possible without Lee as our leader. Our staff thrives in an environment driven by rolling up our sleeves and getting the job done. Lee fosters this approach by focusing his energy on strategic goals, and avoiding the always dreaded micro-management. This philosophy and Lee’s leadership style allows us to achieve a maximum impact in our community. He celebrates in our successes, motivates us to seek out training opportunities, and gives grounded advice.  The culture at project:HOMES is a unique one. Lee encourages us to be ourselves, and we have developed a staff of characters. Offices have streamers hanging from the ceilings, pictures of our successes line the hallways, and he recently instituted a “wall of wins” to post accomplishments team members are particularly proud of. There are currently letters of thanks from our clients, awards, and newspaper clippings hanging on the wall. As an agency, we play about as hard as we work. In the past year we have gone on a group trip to Monticello, attended our annual group Flying Squirrels game, and had numerous luncheons, parking lot tail gates, and breakfasts for staff member’s weddings, baby showers, and achievements.

What sets Lee a part from the rest is his encouragement of innovation and creative thinking. Lee’s open door policy welcomes staff to stop by and share alternative approaches or new programs. This past summer some of the younger staff members created the Keep it Cool RVA! Initiative. This initiative provided window air conditioning units to low-income families without A/C. Upon pitching the idea to Lee, his response was simply: “I love it! Run with it.” Over $6,000 earned and 30 new AC units installed in its first few months of life; we can’t wait to develop what was a small idea into a successful program.  project:HOMES would not be the successful non-profit it is today without Lee. He recognizes talent, sees opportunity, and encourages innovation.

 

View all of the great nonprofit bosses who were nominated here.

Stay tuned for more features of great nonprofit bosses next week and also RSVP to join YNPN RVA in a celebration on November 30th at Postbellum from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.  For event registration (it’s open and free to all), click here

ynpn-rva-great-bosses-celebration

Read more →

 

Great Nonprofit Bosses in RVA Nominees 2016

ynpn-rva-great-bosses-nominee-list

The Young Nonprofits Professional Network RVA (YNPN RVA) believes that a great boss or supervisor supports, inspires and pushes others towards excellence; is an effective communicator, passionate, intuitive and resourceful; and finally, is truly committed to developing the careers of the people they supervise.  Over the past several weeks, YNPN RVA sent out a call to young nonprofit professionals all over Greater Richmond to nominate their boss to be recognized as a part of our “Great Nonprofit Bosses” Initiative.  In total, 37 bosses were nominated by 57 different young nonprofit professionals;  from that group, a YNPN RVA panel selected the top 9 outstanding and compelling nominations (top 9 denoted in orange).  Below are all of the nonprofit bosses who were nominated, along with an excerpt from the accolades they received from the person they supervise!

Amanda Kennedy, Chief Advancement Officer, St. Andrew’s School       

“She is our advocate; she is our cheerleader; she is our teacher. Because of her, I am becoming a stronger nonprofit professional. Because of her, our entire nonprofit community in Richmond is enriched.”

Anne McCaffrey, Director of Development & Scholarships, Virginia Foundation for Community College Education  

“Anne is the kind of boss who makes you feel valued and like you are an important part of the team, no matter your role.  She is encouraging, caring and supportive. “

Anthony Mijares, Founder, Lightbulb Organization         

“He is very unselfish, a leader, and just loves everyone. He goes out of his way to help others.”

Beth Weisbrod, Executive Director, Virginia Capital Trail Foundation     

“She is a trailblazer in her field and definitely one of the best bosses and friends I’ve ever had.  From getting the Trail completed to being an amazing working mom to two great boys, her tenacity never ceases to amaze me!”

Bethanie Constant, Senior Director of Development, VCU College of Humanities and Sciences                 

“She always has a reasoned approach and strategy that’s communicated clearly to her team. She’s open, accepting, encouraging, but ambitious for herself, those around her and the organization she represents. She knows when to push and be creative but also takes time to reflect and plan.”

Brenden Folmar, Head of School, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls         

“Brendan is not afraid to make mistakes and does not hesitate to try new ideas.  If something doesn’t work then he calls it” a learning experience”.  Our group is a team because of his leadership.”

Chris Hairston-White, VP of External Affairs, Better Housing Coalition   

“Chris leads by example. She’s creative, energetic, hardworking, and expects excellence from all team members. She’s a coach, an obstacle remover. She innately understands each team member’s strengths and capabilities, and uses these insights to draw the best from us.”

Cory Richardson-Lauve, Director, Organizational Excellence, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls              

“She has a great personality and presents with excellent leadership skills.  She is always searching for resources for development of our staff.  She has a religious and therapeutic nature.”

Dr. Shantell Malachi, Executive Director, Dress for Success Central Virginia         

“She motivates us daily to pursue our passions and walk in our purpose. She is selfless and humble. It is so refreshing to know that when I have a problem, whether personal or professional, that I have a boss that is willing to listen, offer honest advice, and help me follow through with my decisions.”

Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director, Virginia Mentoring Partnership         

“She is genuine in speech and actions.  She supports her staff in professional development, future goals, and personal triumphs and challenges. Elizabeth empowers her staff to have creative ownership over projects and the future of the Virginia Mentoring Partnership making everyone feel included no matter what position or role you hold in the organization.”

Fran Bolin, Executive Director, Assisting Families of Inmates      

“I truly feel blessed to have Fran Bolin as a boss and a colleague.  Her passion for social justice and her commitment to the work that we do is truly inspiring.”

Gigi Amateau, Chief Impact Office, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg        

“She does an amazing job of ensuring the team environment is supportive and inclusive.  Gigi brings so much joy and energy to the work that she does, and that energy is felt among our team.”

Honesty Liller, Chief Executive Officer, The McShin Foundation 

“She is a living embodiment of the hope and positivity that can lead to a beautiful life in recovery. Honesty has created a work environment where the seriousness of the disease we fight against is balanced with laughter, joy and an understanding of self-care.”

Hunter Leemon, Executive Director, Sportable  

“He truly cares for his team and wants to see them succeed. He takes the time to catch up with each of us individually once a week as well as a team at weekly staff meetings. He is very passionate about what Sportable does for its athletes.”

Janet Starke, Executive Director, Richmond CenterStage             

“Janet is deeply involved in the community and actively finds ways to ensure that she is both bringing external resources to the table for her team as well as connecting us externally to important initiatives that help us build coalitions.  Her inclusive nature sets the tone for the type of organizational culture that we all want to have, and her vision for the organization inspires us all to work toward common goals.”

Jessica Lacks, Program Manager – CHIP of Greater Richmond, Family Lifeline      

“Most of us work in the helping profession because we care about social injustice and want to empower the vulnerable and oppressed. While this is the core of our belief, some days it feels like we never make a difference and change is not happening. It is on these days that Ms. Lacks feels like a rare gift in management; she listens, validates and encourages. She encourages self-reflection and doesn’t flinch if we push back against it.”

Jessica Philips, Vice President/COO, Commonwealth Autism      

“She not only empowers and encourages her staff to do great work, she models this behavior herself.  She confronts challenges and encourages all staff to do the same.  She models a work/life balance and respects and encourages staff in this manner as well.”

Joanne D. Nattrass, Executive Director, Commonwealth Catholic Charities          

“She is a respected leader in the community, and continually challenges us to provide the best service possible to folks in need. Joanne’s the best.”

Julie Carden, Founder, Grace Home Ministries   

“She’s bold and confident and because of her modeling a genuine care for the growth of others, I am continuously inspired to be a better leader that takes into account people and everything they have to offer. Leadership like her has navigated our organization through difficult times. Because of her belief in not giving up, our organization is better and stronger than ever before.”

Ken Seward, Headmaster, Good Shepherd Episcopal School       

“Ken’s greatest strength is his willingness to listen without judgement and problem-solve with diplomacy. We all feel like he hears us when we express concern or make suggestions, and he truly values our opinions. He sincerely cares about the well-being of the school, its teachers, and students.”

Kerry Blumberg, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond     

“Kerry has the passion and vision to truly motivate our staff to work to our highest potentials while highlighting the importance of work-life balance. Kerry encourages open communication and creates a work atmosphere of respect, critical thinking, and collaboration.”

Kindall Stevenson, Director of Strategic Communications, HomeAgain  

“Kindall made sure I felt welcomed and as a part of a team. We worked closely together in organizing special events for our agency and throughout the entire time, she kept good communication and delivered honest feedback. She always goes above and beyond for her job and her peers.”

L. Robert Bolling, Chief Executive Officer, ChildSavers

“Under Robert’s leadership a defined career path was implemented to provide employees with opportunities for advancement and professional development.    He also believes in a “living” strategic plan with well-defined strategic initiatives that are attainable.   He is a very good communicator and he values employee’s thoughts and opinions.  Robert has made a difference at ChildSavers.”

Laura Pitts, Foster Care Adoption Program Manager, Children’s Home Society of Virginia              

“She regularly recognizes her staff for their accomplishments and motivates them to do their best work on behalf of the youth and families that they serve. Laura’s availability as a supervisor, regular check-ins and communication, organized work style, and strong administrative skill set make her an amazing leader of the Foster Care Adoption Program.”

Lee Householder, CEO, project:HOMES 

“Our staff thrives in an environment driven by rolling up our sleeves and getting the job done. Lee fosters this approach by focusing his energy on strategic goals, and avoiding the always dreaded micro-management.  This philosophy and Lee’s leadership style allows us to achieve a maximum impact in our community.”

Margaret Nimmo Holland, Executive Director, Voices for Virginia’s Children       

“Margaret makes sure there is open communication and creates an environment where we are empowered to make changes to improve processes and procedures. There was never a moment where I felt that she is the boss and I am just an employee in the organization.”

Mary Dunne Stewart, CEO, Greater Richmond Fit4Kids  

“Mary Dunne Stewart works tirelessly to support and improve the work of Fit4Kids. No matter the task, Mary is willing to get her hands dirty and work across all programs.  This work ethic is part of the culture that Mary has created at Fi4Kids that the juice is worth the squeeze!”

Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA, Bike Walk RVA, Sports Backers            

“We are frequently encouraged to step into new opportunities, and he is always there to help if things get to be a little too much. He’s easy to communicate with and is understanding that his staff are real people with real lives living in a real city. Through him we accomplish our most.”

Melanie Seiler, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University         

“She provides her staff with the tools, resources and support to do their jobs while allowing them the freedom, creativity and autonomy to grow in their respective areas. She supports new ideas and training and job development opportunities that build new skills. She is well-known across the university as a strong and strategic.”

Nadine Marsh-Carter, President & CEO, Children’s Home Society of Virginia       

“She advocates and creates programs to address changing needs for children. She has a great sense of humor and is compassionate, the workplace environment is supportive and the outcomes rewarding.  She is working 24-7 for the children who need permanent families.”

Sara Conlon, Executive Director, OAR of Richmond        

“Not only does she work to ensure everyone feels that they have value and a voice here at OAR, she opens the door for all of our staff and clients to access greater opportunities to grow in our professional and personal lives, ensuring that we work hard to accomplish our goals, but also make time for ourselves outside of the office.”

Sarah Kim, Deputy Director, The Valentine         

“Sarah wants everyone on our team to unleash their creativity with all of our projects at work. She helps us succeed by challenging us to make the ordinary extraordinary and the mundane fun. She encourages us to not only meet but surpass our potential every day.”

Thelma Bland-Watson, Executive Director, Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging   

“She is a true advocate of the customers we serve, working with community partners to improving their quality of life. As our director she creates a working environment that is friendly, caring, respectful and balanced.”

Thomas Gelozin, Controller, BBB serving Central Virginia

“I believe I am a better employee because Tom challenges me to think outside the box and work towards the answer instead of telling me what it is. He embodies every quality that any leader would need. His interpersonal skills are impeccable!  Anyone within our organization can and does go to Tom with problems they may be having or ideas they may have.”

Tracy Causey, CEO, Capital Area Health Network             

“He creates a team environment while also remaining the lead on the future of Capital Area Health Network and always amazes me with how skilled he is at not making a big deal of issues that are minute. I feel that I am able to succeed by meeting the expectations of my boss but am able to take risks and feel secure in my job even if the outcome is not as expected.”

Vanessa Reyes, VISTA Supervisor, Virginia Mentoring Partnership

“Every meeting with her involves active listening, collaborative working, and respect. I feel valued in every project I work with her on. She actively considers my professional development and work-life balance through open and honest conversation and sharing of resources.  She adapts well to challenges and is flexible with changing our approaches to difficult tasks to foster the most constructive outcomes possible for all involved parties.”

Veronica Fleming, Executive Director, Partnership for Families  

“Ms. Fleming is hands down the best at what she does. She not only cares a tremendous amount about the population in which she serves but also does her employees.”

We want to thank all who sent in nominations for their supervisor, and we especially want to thank the leaders in our community who are pivotal in making our local sector thrive!

Please join YNPN RVA in a celebration of great nonprofit bosses on November 30th at Postbellum from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.  For event registration (it’s open and free to all), click here

ynpn-rva-great-bosses-celebration

      

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Mary Jo Washko, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

mary-jo-washko-j-sarg

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Mary Jo Washko and I am the Director of the Middle College and Great Expectations programs at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College where I have worked since 2003. Prior to Reynolds I worked in grant management, education and counseling.

What is the focus of your work?

The Middle College and Great Expectations programs provide college transition services for young adults ages 18 to 24. The Middle College is a GED to college/workforce transition program and the Great Expectations program provides college transition and support services for young adults affiliated with the foster care system.

ABOVE: an overview video of the Middle College program from their recognition as a “Richmond History Maker” in 2013

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The sense of pride and accomplishment I see on the faces of the students when they discuss their success in a class or the completion of their GED. That moment when they realize that their past does not have to determine their future or the future of their children. It is very rewarding to be in an environment where individuals can achieve success while gaining an appreciation for their own self-worth.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them? 

The Middle College and Great Expectations programs provide these services at no cost to the students through a mix of college and grant funding. The Richmond foundations and businesses have been very supportive but sustainable funding is always an area of concern.  We have been fortunate to have the support of the college’s Development Office to help us pursue external grant funding.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

The Middle College has partnered with Region 15 Adult and Continuing Education to pilot our first PluggedInVA integrated education and training program. The GED to Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program contextualizes the GED curriculum with components of the skills required to become a CNA and combines this with the training for the industry recognized credential. This collaboration expands the services offered by each of our programs, allowing us to serve more students who need their GED and workforce training. We have also partnered with the Resource Workforce Centers to provide additional supportive services for the students and develop additional PluggedInVA programs.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

ConnectVA is wonderful resource! We use the events calendar, we maintain a profile for others seeking similar services, we refer students to the employment resources, and we actively make use of the Basic Needs Directory. Non-profit programs often have limited resources but ConnectVA provides a single location to identify and access service providers…it’s a beautiful thing!

Anything else you would like to share?

We are very grateful to the foundations and businesses who have supported our programs, lives have been changed because of your support. We are excited about our new partnerships and we anticipate that with the PluggedInVA model we will become a recognized source for employers looking for qualified and credentialed employees.

Read more →

 

Campaign Closeup: $5k for RVA

campaign-closeup-5k-for-rva

In the nonprofit sector, the fall generally marks the kick-off into the fundraising season with charitable events like galas and races, online giving days and of course, end of year campaigns.   For the past five years in the Greater Richmond region this time of year was marked by the Amazing Raise – a 36-hour online giving event in mid-September that featured competitive grant prizes awarded before and after to nonprofits through various challenges, video contests and a 5k race.

Hosted by The Community Foundation (TCF), the annual event produced more than $7M for hundreds of local organizations. In 2015, donations from 21,000 online gifts totaled $1.8M which included $150k or more in prize money to instill fun and competition amongst participants.

In February 2016, the Community Foundation announced the end of the Amazing Raise and the desire to direct future efforts to further support nonprofit capacity building, donor engagement and opportunities to achieve greater community impact.  TCF expressed a hope that local nonprofits would learn from their participation in the Amazing Raise and evolve in their own fundraising efforts.  Through the spring and summer, TCF worked with many organizations to help them figure out “what’s next”.  Although there was some initial disappointment, many nonprofits were inspired to create campaigns of their own.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing insight into those campaigns that evolved after the Amazing Raise.  You can also read our Campaign Closeups on the Amazing Praise, Close the Gap and The Amazing Dream.

 

$5k for RVA

The Better Housing Coalition (BHC), a non-profit community development corporation, transforms communities through high-quality, eco-friendly affordable housing. They offer social services that help residents become more self-reliant, seek higher education and age in place.  Their portfolio includes 16 residential communities – 8 for lower-income seniors – as well as 180 single-family homes for low- to moderate-income first-time buyers.  BHC is known for the many collaborative partnerships they’ve created with financial and commercial organizations, public agencies, other non-profits, private individuals, grassroots community leaders, and builders and developers in order to scale and manage their mission of revitalizing the community.

On September 8th BHC’s Young Professional Board – BHCyp, held an online fundraising challenge, “$5k for RVA” with a goal of raising $5,000 in 12 hours.    Sarah Fernald, Resource Manager for BHC and coordinator of BHCyp shared more insight into the campaign and what the organization learned from the experience.

Where did the idea of the $5k for RVA campaign come from?  In past years, BHC’s Amazing Raise campaign was the pet project of our Young Professionals Board, BHCyp, and when we got the news that The Amazing Raise was no longer, we knew we needed to readjust. Once summer came around, we started seeing other groups trying their own campaigns and decided to give it a try. Based on our past performance during the Amazing Raise, we decided on a challenging but attainable goal for a 12-hour fundraising blitz – $5,000. I believe that everything needs a catchy title, so we landed on $5K for RVA.

Members of BHCyp who hosted the campaign for the organization.

Members of BHCyp who hosted the campaign for the organization.

How did you decide what would happen during the event?  Knowing that many of the people who choose to support us online during the first half of the campaign would be different from the people who generally attend our YP events, it just made sense to pair the two efforts. BHCyp took the lead on organizing the event, called “Discover RVA Happy Hour” and did an awesome job planning fun things like a trivia competition with Richmond-centric prize pack, BHC branded beers on tap, and great networking to appeal to young professionals. They also solicited event sponsors and items for the prize pack defraying all costs to the organization.

bhcyp-strangewayshh-03-2-768x485

How did you spread the word for the event?  We created a detailed social media plan that included what posts would be shared leading up to and during the campaign, and then we shared the plan with staff and BHCyp asking them all to help in sharing the posts to gain a wider reach. We were able to cross promote with our event venue, Strangeways Brewing, and we posted the event on community calendars like ConnectVA.

14199320_10154061939142739_8066914244778008377_n

What went well and what didn’t?  We made a conscious decision to limit the number of emails we sent to our general supporters to prevent fatigue or disinterest. With our limited communications prior to the campaign, we were surprised at the rate of response to our call to action. Within the first hour we raised $1100, and we knew we had a good thing going.

What surprised you about the event?  We were able to attract a more diverse crowd than we had at past events, and I believe that helped us top our goal. It was great to see people of all ages and backgrounds engaging in conversation, competing in trivia, and rallying around our mission.

Did you meet your goal?  When I set our $5,000 goal, the events committee was skeptical, but we were able work together to meet and exceed the goal before the 12 hours were up.

5k-for-rva-we-did-it-fb-300x150

What did you learn from the event ie what might you do differently?  We would start planning a little earlier. Thankfully because of our past experience with The Amazing Raise and the dedication of the staff and BHCyp, we were able to pull it all off in about a month, but it was a challenge!

What’s next for the $5k for RVA campaign? Since the event was successful and could be easily replicated, I believe that $5K for RVA will most likely be reconfigured to support the project specific fundraising efforts of BHCyp’s 2017 strategy. We will apply the strategies and lessons to the next campaign, and with any luck, we will achieve our goals and gain new friends of Better

 

Did you recently hold a successful fundraising campaign and want to share your insight?  Email us at admin@connectva.org!

Also, check out these learning opportunities for the foundations of Fund Development and Communications!

Upcoming Classes

11/18 – Cultivating Corporate Partnerships and Sponsors

12/7 – Courting the Media

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Susan Hill, Richmond Region Energy Alliance

susan-hill-rrea

Tell us about yourself.

I am Susan Hill, the executive director of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance.  I’ve been with the organization for 4.5 years, and I have a background in fashion and nonprofit fund development.  Since I joined RREA, I became certified as a building analyst, so I also conduct our home energy evaluations.

What is the focus of your work?

We help people make their homes more energy efficient.  Efficiency upgrades lower utility bills, make homes less drafty, and improve indoor air quality.  Reducing energy use and installing solar power ultimately improves the environment, which is at the heart of our work.  We start all of our clients with a walk-through energy assessment and make customized recommendations for what their home needs.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I love the intersection of the field with affordable housing, green building, and environmental advocacy and working with partners from all of those sectors.  On the daily level, it’s a privilege be invited into someone’s home to give them guidance on how to improve their energy efficiency.  I meet a lot of people through this very personal way, and it’s very rewarding.  Once I’ve changed a light bulb in someone’s bathroom or bedroom, we are usually fast friends.

 collage-pic

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them? 

Getting people excited about sealing up air leaks and adding insulation is not easy work!  Energy itself is also an elusive topic, so we work hard to make saving energy tangible and quantifiable for people.  Our solar power program has been a great way to get people thinking about their home’s energy use, and then we remind them of the importance of reducing their energy consumption before investing in solar.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?

We launched a new program this year called EnergizeRVA, in which we use volunteers or the participating homeowner to install approachable energy savings measures in the house.  It’s fun to introduce people to the blower door test, which is how we measure and feel air leakage in the home, or see them excited to get suited up to insulate hot water pipes in the crawlspace.  The program has a lot of potential to teach people hands-on energy savings techniques – like caulking leaky windows – all while saving the participating homeowner on their energy bills.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?

We use ConnectVA as a community information hub, so we always list our job postings and events there.  As a small nonprofit using only grassroots marketing, having this public outlet to promote our work is very beneficial.  At our last solar power workshop, one of the attendees I spoke with had seen it advertised on ConnectVA, so we know it’s a resource that people turn to.

Anything else you would like to share?

Saving energy at home offers an immediate financial benefit, while making a global impact through emissions reductions.  It’s a win all the way around!

Read more →

 

Tip of the Week: Giving Tuesday Alternatives

Tip of the Week- Giving Tuesday alternatives

It’s less than two weeks until #GivingTuesday (November 29th this year) – a national day of online charitable giving (strategically after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday), and all of the nonprofit blogs are abuzz with tips and tricks to make your campaign the best it can be.  Since its inception in 2012, Giving Tuesday has generated $116.7 million for nonprofits globally, with over 40,000 organizations in 71 countries participating.  Even though the movement seems to be going strong, many local organizations expressed that they’ve decided not to participate in a global campaign because they feel like their message would be lost in a crowd of “asks” and the preparation for the event would be incredibly time consuming, even though GivingTuesday.org offers several tool kits and resources to help beforehand.  More importantly, those in fundraising positions reiterated that they want to be engaging and receiving donations from their supporters year-round, and asking on Giving Tuesday is counter-intuitive to this.  You can read more about why many nonprofit leaders advise avoiding Giving Tuesday.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled five alternatives to Giving Tuesday for engaging donors, volunteers, and staff this holiday season and throughout the year. 

  1. Thank your donors and volunteers instead. Use the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to simply thank your constituents in an e-mail and/or social media post(s). Better yet – ask a family or client your organization has impacted to help write a thank you note. Reconnect donors and volunteers with your mission and reiterate how their donations (and hours) have made a difference.
  2. Jump on the holiday shopping bandwagon with Tribute Gifts. People are looking for ways to give back during the holiday season – and socially conscious shoppers like giving “gifts” that impact an organization’s mission. Nonprofit Tech for Good has compiled some great examples of nonprofits who have launched effective tribute gift campaigns, as well as a list of nonprofit online stores for inspiration.
  3. Focus on volunteer engagement instead. Volunteer opportunities are in high demand during the holiday season.  Often there is much more demand than supply during the holiday season, especially in Greater Richmond. HandsOn Greater Richmond has created a resource page to educate volunteers and lists alternative ways to volunteer/help nonprofits. If your organization doesn’t have the resources for a large volunteer project, there might be smaller-scale ways you can engage people, such as having them lead in-kind donation drives, or working on a DIY project.  If you have items that you need (or have available) you can post this information on ConnectVA’s Item Exchange.
  4. Learn skills to make your campaigns more effective. According to TechImpact, lack of planning, promotion, media relationships, or video content are all reasons why crowdfunding campaigns often fail. Spend the time you would normally be planning your Giving Tuesday campaign on planning your donor engagement strategy for 2017, reaching out to the media to cultivate relationships, or learning how to produce a great video.  You can take the Cultivating Corporate Partnerships and Sponsors class, the upcoming Courting the Media class or watch a webinar hone in on these skills.
  5. Learn from your peers and consider creating your own campaign.  This year we’ve seen a spike in local organizations creating their own grassroots online campaigns that span from 12-hour events to multi-day giving challenges.  Some examples are the Amazing Praise, Close the Gap,  The Amazing Dream and $5k for RVA.  Read more about what worked for them, what didn’t, and reach out to your nonprofit peers to learn more!

Is your organization still planning to participate in #GivingTuesday? Tell us about it! We’d love to hear about your successes, challenges, and “to do next year’s” in the comments, or shoot us an e-mail at info@connectva.org.

Read more →

 

Campaign Closeup: The Amazing Dream

campaign-closeup-the-amazing-dream

In the nonprofit sector, the fall generally marks the kick-off into the fundraising season with charitable events like galas and races, online giving days and of course, end of year campaigns.   For the past five years in the Greater Richmond region this time of year was marked by the Amazing Raise – a 36-hour online giving event in mid-September that featured competitive grant prizes awarded before and after to nonprofits through various challenges, video contests and a 5k race.

Hosted by The Community Foundation (TCF), the annual event produced more than $7M for hundreds of local organizations. In 2015, donations from 21,000 online gifts totaled $1.8M which included $150k or more in prize money to instill fun and competition amongst participants.

In February 2016, The Community Foundation announced the end of the Amazing Raise and the desire to direct future efforts to further support nonprofit capacity building, donor engagement and opportunities to achieve greater community impact.  TCF expressed a hope that local nonprofits would learn from their participation in the Amazing Raise and evolve in their own fundraising efforts.  Through the spring and summer, TCF worked with many organizations to help them figure out “what’s next”.  Although there was some initial disappointment, many nonprofits were inspired to create campaigns of their own.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing insight into those campaigns that evolved after the Amazing Raise.  You can also read our Campaign Closeup on the Amazing Praise and Close the Gap

The Amazing Dream

amazing-dream

ART 180 gives local youth living in challenging circumstances, like poverty, the threat of violent crime and substance abuse, the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories with others.   Partnering with other organizations that serve young people, ART 180 designs projects that allow for self-expression, and creates venues for this expression in the community. The name reflects their vision of turning lives and communities around 180 degrees. ART 180 also operates Atlas, an art center for teens and gallery space for young people in Jackson Ward.

From September 26th to 30th – ART 180 held a grass-roots campaign called “The Amazing Dream”, with a goal of raising $7,500, leveraging matching gift donations for each day of the campaign, and showcasing stories of teen leaders in their programs.  The theme for the campaign was the “ART 180 universe” and dollars raised would help support over 30 programs and 350 youth the organization serves each year.

In the end, the campaign raised over $30,000 – $10,000 from individual donations, and $20,000 from matching gifts!

Trey Hart, ART 180 Resource Development Manager shared more details of what went into the campaign and what’s next for ART 180.

ABOVE: ART 180 teen leader Chris Bolling guides viewers through the ART 180 “galaxy”, highlighting stories of 4 special teen leaders in their orbit. Throughout the week they shared short video vignettes, photos, and recollections of good times spent and lessons learned over the years.

Where did the idea for the Amazing Dream campaign come from? The Amazing Dream was absolutely inspired by The Amazing Raise. We had a committee already formed to support the Amazing Raise, and they didn’t want to lose the momentum they generated last year. It was a perfect opportunity to transition to a self-sustainable grassroots campaign.

How did you decide what would happen during the event?  Our committee of 8, made up of ART 180 staff, donors, a board member and other volunteers, made all of the decisions. We liked many aspects of the Amazing Raise, so we decided to keep it time-specific, provide simple incentives (like a “meet our teens” reception at Black Hand Coffee), and use this as an opportunity to engage our major donors and corporations in providing matching gifts.

matching-gift

How did you spread the word for the event?  The campaign was officially titled “The Amazing Dream: ART 180’s annual giving campaign.” And we went with the theme of the “ART 180 Universe.” Our Communications Manager Emily Hall collaborated with one of our teen leaders to create a series of video vignettes that introduced a teen and their mentor (just one aspect of the ART 180 Universe). She collaborated with a volunteer graphic designer, Cheyenne McQuilkin (Eye Intuitive Arts: http://cheyennejoy.com/) to create a logo, and Emily created a series of branded visuals to send out via Constant Contact daily emails, Facebook, and Instagram.

 What went well and what didn’t?  It took more work than we originally anticipated, especially on the communications side. The success of these campaigns is tied to the amount of times you stay in front of a donor, reminding them to give. We had many late nights crafting emails, refining our communications so that everything would be well-timed.

A time-specific campaign was so important! Urgency inspires grassroots donors, think Indiegogo or GoFundMe. We also incorporated our teens, which felt really good. It’s nice to align the organizational values with fundraising campaigns. And, most of all, we had a thoughtful, pre-determined plan that our staff and volunteer committee executed beautifully. Without that, we would have been scrambling.

art180

What surprised you about the Amazing Dream?  We were surprised at the level of donations. We expected a number of $25 and $50 gifts, but our average gift was $150. A few major donors used this as an opportunity to help us reach our daily matching gift goals.

Did you meet your goals for the campaign?  We exceeded our $7,500 goal! In the end, we raised a little over $10,000 from individuals and leveraged an additional $20,000 in matching gifts to raise slightly more than $30,000. We also had a goal to reach 100 donors (60 returning and 40 new), which we accomplished.

What might you have done differently?  We will definitely start earlier next year, but much of what we accomplished we’ll repeat

What’s next for Art 180 and the Amazing Dream?  This will be a new annual tradition for ART 180. It was so successful this year that we do not need to send a comprehensive fall direct mail appeal, saving us thousands in design costs, printing/mailing costs, and staff time.

 art1802

 

Did you recently hold a successful fundraising campaign and want to share your insight?  Email us at admin@connectva.org!

Also, check out these learning opportunities for the foundations of Fund Development and Communications!

Upcoming Classes

11/9 –  Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits

11/18 – Cultivating Corporate Partnerships and Sponsors

12/7 – Courting the Media

Read more →

 

ConnectVA Spotlight: Jennifer Case, Family Lifeline

jennifer-case-family-lifeline-full

Tell us about yourself.

I am Jennifer Case, MA/MSW – Home Care Program Manager at Family Lifeline.  After working for over eight years with Family Lifeline’s Early Childhood Programs, I have become a newly inspired advocate for older adults and people with disabilities.

What is the focus of your work? 

We bring health and hope into the home!  Together with a team of professional care providers and nursing staff – we provide support to family caregivers as well as quality hands on care for older adults and people with disabilities – so they can remain independent and safely in their own homes for as long as possible.

 

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Making a connection with family caregivers is the most rewarding part of the job.  Many caregivers are under constant stress, and I am grateful to partner with them in caring for their loved ones and help provide much needed support in their caregiving journeys.

What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them? 

Perhaps our biggest challenge is finding funding to support this much needed care.  Often, navigating and accessing both public and private resources is a huge task.

We are also challenged with helping families navigate the complicated healthcare system. Many of our recipients of care are Medicaid recipients and face even more challenges navigating the resources available. As a private non-profit home care agency, Family Lifeline is fortunate that we have been able to raise funds to support a social work position to help families in this way and to support their loved one’s wish to age in place in their own home.

Family Lifeline’s Home Care Program works to promote health and wellness of individuals in the comfort and safety of their own home by providing supportive services that delay the need for costly institutional care, prevent illness and injury, and relieve the stresses placed on caregivers.

Family Lifeline’s Home Care Program works to promote health and wellness of individuals in the comfort and safety of their own home by providing supportive services that delay the need for costly institutional care, prevent illness and injury, and relieve the stresses placed on caregivers.

What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?  

For 140 years, Family Lifeline has worked diligently to provide intensive home and community based services to individuals and families.  Often known for our work with our Early Childhood Programs, the last year has brought an exciting change in our overall strategic plan to expand and enhance Older Adult Programing through our Home Care and Visiting Volunteer Programs.

We are working hard to create both public and private partnerships that will allow us to continue to serve our current recipients, as well as serve more recipients of care and their family caregivers.

How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?  

ConnectVA is a valuable resource which helps us stay engaged with our non-profit partners and keep up to date on what’s happening in the Greater Richmond Area. It is a valuable tool to find the most qualified professionals who are aligned with our mission and values. Finally, ConnectVA connects us with our community – to volunteers, students, to funding resources, professional development opportunities, as well as other valuable resources for our agency and those we serve.

Anything else you would like to share?

I take the work I do in our Home Care Program personally.  As parent of a child with a disability, I can relate to the worry, stress and burdens that our family caregivers face. I can also relate to the love they feel for their family member and how providing such care is an honor as well.  It’s a joy when we provide respite, connect families with resources, or just offer a listening ear to both our caregivers and recipients of care in a time of need.

Read more →

 

Campaign Closeup: Close The Gap

campaign-closeup-close-the-gap

In the nonprofit sector, the fall generally marks the kick-off into the fundraising season with charitable events like galas and races, online giving days and of course, end of year campaigns.   For the past five years in the Greater Richmond region this time of year was marked by the Amazing Raise – a 36-hour online giving event in mid-September that featured competitive grant prizes awarded before and after to nonprofits through various challenges, video contests and a 5k race.

Hosted by The Community Foundation (TCF), the annual event produced more than $7M for hundreds of local organizations. In 2015, donations from 21,000 online gifts totaled $1.8M which included $150,000 or more in prize money to instill fun and competition among participants.

In February 2016, the Community Foundation announced the end of the Amazing Raise and the desire to direct future efforts to further support nonprofit capacity building, donor engagement and opportunities to achieve greater community impact.  TCF expressed a hope that local nonprofits would learn from their participation in the Amazing Raise and evolve in their own fundraising efforts.  Through the spring and summer, TCF worked with many organizations to help them figure out “what’s next”.  Although there was some initial disappointment, many nonprofits were inspired to create campaigns of their own.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing insight into those campaigns that evolved after the Amazing Raise.  You can also read our Campaign Closeup on the Amazing Praise.

Close the Gap

Over the course of four days – from September 26th to 29thShalom Farms held an online giving event called “Close the Gap”, with a goal of raising $20,000.  The slogan for the campaign was “closing the healthy food gap, together” and Shalom conveyed that “all funds raised during the event will go to directly to our goal of providing over 400,000 servings of fresh produce along with nutrition resources, food-skills education and support to over 7,000 people.  The Nutrition Distribution Network, Prescription Produce Plan, Youth Run Farm Stand, Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Community Mobile Market are all made possible by these donations.”

They ended up surpassing the $20,000 goal and reached over $36,000 in donations from 182 gifts.  We caught up with Shalom Farms, who gave us more insight into their campaign.

14516375_10154097737652675_6777969376468063909_n

Where did the idea for the Close the Gap campaign come from?  Shalom Farms had a great deal of success participating in the Amazing Raise in the past. When the event was discontinued, our organization and members of the Board decided to create an event that build on that success and replicate some of the most effective aspects of the Amazing Raise…namely the urgency and matching opportunities. As for the name, it worked on a few levels for us. Losing the Amazing Raise left a significant gap in individual donations for us. We needed to close that critical funding gap. Additionally, talk about our work as an attempt to close the “healthy food gap” in Richmond…so it made perfect sense!

How did you decide what would happen during the event?  We talked about several ideas to increase donor participation in the event but decided to primarily focus on one – the matching gift challenge. From past experience with the Amazing Raise, we knew that a matching gift challenge would be an effective way to increase donor participation and level of giving. We wanted a matching challenge that would incentivize folks to give a little more than the $50 they may have given in the past, without discouraging small gifts which still have a big impact for a small organization like ours.

We were fortunate to have a new member of the Board who was interested in making the matching gift challenge. Additionally, we wanted to focus on online giving without discouraging gifts from folks who would prefer to write a check or donate over the phone. So we pushed people to our donation page while still allowing for checks and gifts over the phone.

How did you spread the word for the event?  We mailed letters to our past Amazing Raise donors to let them know about the event and why their support was needed. We followed these letters up with a personal email from our Executive Director which included directions on how to give and links to our donation page. We also encouraged board, staff, and key supporters/volunteers to each recruit at least 5 donors.

On Monday morning (the first day of the event) we sent out an e-mail to all of our full newsletter and volunteer list to inform them of the event and provide information on how to get involved. We also posted this information on our social media pages. We continued with daily event updates/reminders on social media for the rest of the campaign.

What went well and what didn’t?  We started our campaign off with a matching gift challenge- all gifts of $100 or more made that day would count toward the match- and by 5pm on Monday, we were already about 75% of the way to our $20,000 goal. This went far beyond our expectations for the first day of the campaign and served as a great boost to our staff, friends, and Board members who were reaching out to family and friends for donations. We also sent informal, personal thank you e-mails to individuals who donated on that first day to let them know that we had reached the matching gift goal and to give them an update on our progress toward the overall goal – this immediate follow-up was very well received by our donors.

What did not go well – we received a few incredibly generous gifts online and since they were given online, a percentage of those gifts went toward credit card processing fees. We realized that we could have done more to before the event to predict these large gifts and should have worked more closely with these donors.

14435138_10154103445207675_6816285016203420799_o

What surprised you about the Close the Gap Campaign?  I think we were all surprised with the quick response from our supporters – the majority of our gifts arrived on the very first day of the event. We were also surprised about how quickly we met our campaign goal.

Did you meet your goals for the campaign?  Our campaign goal was to raise $20,000 – by the end of the campaign, we had raised more than $36,000.

We thought we would have more individual donors giving smaller gifts. However, we ended up having fewer donors engaged than during 2015’s Amazing Raise but those donors gave a larger gift on average.

We did not set a specific goal for number of first-time donors engaged but this was one of our internal goals for the campaign. We ended up engaging more than 70 first-time donors. About half of the money raised came from new donors…including a couple larger gifts…which was a huge success for us!

What did you learn from the event ie what might you do differently?   We definitely made the event too long. We decided to run a 4-day campaign but we met our goal before then and by that 4th day, I think we were a little burned out and our supporters were likely tuned out. Next year, we are planning to make this a 2 or 3-day event.

What’s next for Shalom Farms and fundraising campaigns?  We are fairly confident that Shalom Farms will hold a similar fundraising event again next year with a shorter time frame and greater set goals. We will likely change our donor outreach strategy to focus more on our smaller donors and engaging first-time donors. Also, we would like to move this event to be held either near the end of August or earlier in September so it is not so close to our end-of-year/annual appeal.

 

Did you recently hold a successful fundraising campaign and want to share your insight?  Email us at admin@connectva.org!

Also, check out these learning opportunities in Fund Development and Communications!

Upcoming Classes

11/9 –  Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits

11/18 – Cultivating Corporate Partnerships and Sponsors

12/7 – Courting the Media

Webinars

10/25 –  #GivingTuesday and Beyond: Your Nine-Week Plan to Score Big

10/25 – Nonprofit 911: The Secret to a Record-Breaking #GivingTuesday

10/27 –  GivingTuesday Before, During and After—Your 9-Week Success Plan!

11/1 –  Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits

Read more →