- Sun, August 28 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
This weekend, I’m sharing stories from Mary Holmes of the Cumberland Community Foundation. She often sends me wonderful emails in response to my posts, recounting her experiences as a fundraiser. Yesterday, I shared a story illustrating three key basics of fundraising; today I stories about diversity among donors.
“Many nonprofits report struggling to connect with their diverse communities or rural neighbors. (Katya notes: Mary’s foundation has wonderful supporters from the African American community and rural communities.) A favorite story was about a retired educator of modest means who was cultivated by our long time board member Mildred (also a retired educator and plays piano at the same church). She created a designated endowment to support music programs at her church in memory of her husband. She was worried about reaching fund minimum but took the leap. The next week her brother-in-law matched her gift. The fund minimum was soon met… Another story: Ten years ago the local farm bureau started talking about having a scholarship for children of farmers and fundraising started. One of the farmers and farm bureau board members sadly lost his youngest sister to a car accident about five years ago. He was introduced to CCF when his sisters started a scholarship in memory of their sister. (The sisters were referred to the community foundation by a friend who had a fund.) He gave to that fund, experienced our stewardship, and saw it grow over the years. One of the sisters began to volunteer on our scholarship selection committee (selecting other scholarships) and most of the family attends our annual scholarship awards presentation. So his confidence in our scholarship system grew. He invited me to present to the farm bureau board about 18 months ago and again last week. I left with a $100,000 and two signed scholarship memorial endowment fund agreements (in memory of their founders).”
Mary’s work truly illustrates why it’s so important to reach out to the full community in your fundraising efforts. That means having a diverse board, creating an environment where all people can have a hand in shaping programs, and celebrating and spreading stories of success. I find her stories a great example of how this is done well.
It’s a huge loss not to do so. I’m recalling some data I shared earlier this summer about ethnicity and who is most likely to spread the word about a cause. Diversity among donors truly matters!