Richard T. Mannisto (slideshow photo 1)
director of mission advancement
Wisconsin Lutheran High School
"A lot of people are good fundraisers," writes Pamela Mattox, partner at the McDonald Schaefer Group. "I want to recognize Rich for his unparalleled enthusiasm and energy for the work, and his ability to inspire the same in others."
No one can deny the importance of an infectious attitude when it comes to being an asset at any job. But in addition to that, Rich Mannisto has led the development program at Wisconsin Lutheran to new heights in annual giving and has been instrumental in the school's $5.5 million major-gifts campaign.
"He has quickly become an expert in major gifts, and planned-giving cultivation and solicitation," Pamela writes. "He is out of his office calling on donors in person every week, and his gift-closure success is about 85 percent."
More importantly, however, "it helps that he believes in the mission, but his real gift is his genuine sense of calling, his ability to help others find joy in giving."
Rebecca Panfile (slideshow photo 2)
director, The Audience Project,
Drama League of New York
Rebecca Panfile took over her position as the programmatic head of audience development and donor programs for the Drama League's Audience Project just when the economy was tanking.
Despite — or perhaps because of — that, –and with little training as a fundraiser, she "has approached her tasks in dazzlingly original ways, previously unimagined by her predecessors," writes Gabriel Shanks, executive director of the Drama League of New York. "Her focus on attentive, focused donor interactions has the precision of a surgeon's scalpel but is never over-calculated. She brings a warmth and a personal style to each conversation that has cemented our funders and actually increased our new members."
A fresh and fearless approach to fundraising in tough times is certainly one of the hallmarks of an effective fundraiser, but we especially liked this observation about Rebecca: "She keeps herself aware of industry trends and techniques, but never becomes slavish to them, trusting her instinct and her own information-gathering abilities to guide her wise decision-making."
David Ludwigson (slideshow photo 3)
chief development officer
God's Love We Deliver
Not all Rising Stars are 20-somethings. David Ludwigson comes from the for-profit world and has only been a fundraiser for a few years. According to Karen Pearl, president and CEO at God's Love We Deliver, David has used his background in marketing at Ford Motor Co. to take the organization's fundraising program to new heights.
"Everyone at God's Love who knew David liked and respected him. But hiring him was somewhat of a risk," she writes. "Having worked only in the private sector, he knew little about scheduling direct mail, submitting foundation proposals or conducting major-donor solicitations. But as it turns out, we are extremely fortunate to have taken the risk. In transferring his extraordinary skills in relationship building and brand promotion to God's Love, David has enhanced our fundraising program in immeasurable ways."
Under David's leadership, GLWD has raised more money and controlled costs, raising close to $8 million (80 percent of the organization's revenue at God's Love). Impressive numbers, but we're especially happy to recognize someone who made a successful transition from for-profit to nonprofit work and is able to apply the best of the former to enhance the work of the latter.
Miyoko Brunner (slideshow photo 4)
Straight out of college, Miyoko Brunner has proven herself to be a real powerhouse when it comes to fundraising. We like that one of her first big projects embraced the multichannel approach that has become essential to successful fundraising.
"We are extremely proud of her for spearheading WITNESS' 2009 Spring Drive," writes Su Patel, the organization's communications and outreach manager. "She created a multichannel campaign using social media, personalized video pages, the WITNESS Web site and letter writing to raise funds from existing and new donors by tapping into each individual's personal network of supporters and friends."
The campaign exceeded its goal, raising $74,533 from 345 donors in a little more than six weeks.
"[Miyoko is] diligent, detail-oriented and dependable," Su writes. "But what sets her apart from her peers is that she is incredibly energetic, collaborative, creative and a team player. She can maintain her humor and composure in the most stressful and trying of situations.
"If this is what Miyoko has accomplished after entering the profession straight out of college, I can only imagine what the next five or 10 years holds for her," Su adds. "She takes every opportunity she can to avail herself of professional development programs to learn new fundraising skills. We at WITNESS feel incredibly lucky to have such fresh thinking and energy in our midsts."
Christina Johns (slideshow photo 5)
senior manager of DRTV and social networking
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
Christina Johns came onto FS' radar last year when she pitched an idea to write about social networking in regard to nonprofit organizations. We were impressed with how comfortable she was with a subject that was so new to the sector and one that was causing all kinds of angst among even the most daring fundraising pros. She has an impressive and easy grasp of (and genuine passion for) the social- networking milieu — its possibilities, its limitations and the strategies needed to make it work.
"Christina has single-handedly created and established our social-media presence," writes IFCJ Director of Donor Services Joseph Dominguez, adding that the organization has more than 20,000 supporters across social-media platforms such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter — more than double the number from this time last year.
"Our donations through social media have doubled, as well, and continue to gather and build in size as we gain exposure," he says.
"Christina works diligently to change the landscape of our organization, ever widening the view of what is possible," Dominguez writes. "Her passion and focus drive others and inspire internal customers to partner with her. She has a strong work ethic and excels at challenging the status quo within our organization, resulting in improvements and long-reaching changes."
Jennifer Rosa (slideshow photo 6)
YWCA Bergen County
Jennifer Rosa has been with the YWCA Bergen County (New Jersey) for only two years, but she already has made her mark on the organization, according to Jeanne Patrican, the organization's director of development. Apparently she's a special-events, record-keeping and computer whiz, but we looked beyond that at some of the bigger-picture talents mentioned in her nomination. According to Jeanne, Jennifer is a self-starter who, most recently, took it upon herself to research effective Web design and make suggestions that led to the redesign of donor pages on the YWCA's Web site, and who willingly pitches in to help out in other departments' fundraising projects and with technology issues and design projects.
But we especially like this part of Jeanne's nominating comments: "[Jennifer has] a great attitude; she initiates many actions, is enthusiastic, always has a smile [that] infects the entire office, is high energy, and goes above and beyond."
Jennifer also is an important connection between the brand-new and the tried-and-true at the YWCA who "keeps us in touch with the next generation and the future of fundraising" through her knowledge of social media and other trends that affect the sector.