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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published July 15, 2010                                                    

How can nonprofits generate and sustain financial support?

   Nonprofit organizations provide services on which many in the community rely. Less reliable is the amount of donations they can expect from year to year, especially in a down economy.
   We asked grantee partners of Community Memorial Foundation to share their best practices to bolster fund-raising.  

   “Take the time to show your appreciation to your donors in many different ways, from a personal handwritten note, a phone call, flowers, a card, a cup of coffee. Take the time to specifically let them know how their support makes a difference.”
— Heidi Waltner-Pepper, director of development,
Robert Crown Center for Health Education

   “Always have a ‘call to action’ even if you aren’t asking for dollars. That may come in the form of asking for a current e-mail address or asking a donor for their feedback on a recent program or event. Keep your agency friends and donors connected and engaged in what you are doing. If donors don’t have a connection with our mission, and we don’t engage them, why would they want to give?”
— Heather Graves, director of development, The Community House

   “Tell your donors the impact their donation makes in the community. For example, ‘Your donation of $25 to People’s Resource Center can nourish a hungry family with a week of groceries.’ ”
— Karen Hill, development director, People’s Resource Center

   “Be creative about ways to get to know your donors better and make sure that their communication with your organization is not only in the form of an annual solicitation. We have board members make personal phone calls to donors who make a gift over a certain amount. The donor feels special and the board member is engaged in fund-raising without asking anyone for money. It also is an opportunity for the board member to engage the donor in potentially fruitful conversation about the organization.”
— Jeannie Cella, executive director, Wellness House

   “It is all about relationships. Don’t rely solely on e-mail. Talk to people and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.”
— Heather Alderman, vice president for advancement, external affairs and general counsel, Pillars

   “Sharing Connections Furniture Bank has a Friends program where individuals make a pledge to donate on a monthly basis. While some of the amounts are not large, this consistent income helps sustain us during slow funding periods.”
— Ann Wohlberg, executive director, Sharing Connections Furniture Bank

   “(For special event sponsors, we) hang the (event) banner in our building after the event, where it will be prominently displayed, so that our visitors, clients, staff and other foot traffic will be sure to spot their support. ... Finally, (we) start off our solicitation letter for the next event by thanking them for their previous support.”
Niki Chibucos, director of development and public relations, Aging Care Connections

   “Effective fund development is about delivering a consistent mission-driven message that tells the story of how our agency solves or positively impacts the community. Donors don’t want to always hear about our needs or the impossibilities of the problem of homelessness; they want to know and will respond to how our organization responds or — even better — leads.”
— Margo Matthew, director of grants, Bridge Communities

   “You can never thank a donor enough for their giving to your organization. A personal call or visit is a way to show the organization’s appreciation and that the individual is not only valued for their investment, but for their partnership in the mission.”
— Allison Steinhauser, assistant vice president of external affairs, Metropolitan Family Services


— by Ken Knutson

— Making a difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and Community Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to measurably improve
the health of people work live and work in the western suburbs.





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