Matthew Bregman (slideshow photo 1)
director of development
El Museo del Barrio
Since Matt Bregman's arrival at El Museo del Barrio in spring 2006, private giving has soared from $2 million in FY02-05 to more than $6 million last year. But as impressive as those numbers are, it's not always just about numbers. According to Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of El Museo del Barrio, Matt's leadership made it possible to reopen the museum to the public after a $35 million renovation.
"Many of us were (understandably) nervous about reopening in the midst of this economic situation. But Matt remained optimistic, determined and focused," Julián writes. "As a result, we were able to fully fund our reopening exhibitions, public programs and celebratory activities, and are beyond expectations in terms of revenue for the current year and already closing the gap for the coming fiscal year."
Matt is the only non-Spanish-speaking senior staff member in a Latino organization, a situation he handles by "embracing the novelty and looking with fresh eyes at opportunities to succeed."
Matt is being honored for his leadership, his willingness to mentor younger associates and generally setting a positive tone in his department.
"We believe that El Museo is stronger than ever," Julián writes, "and will only continue to grow in the coming years, whatever the macroeconomic circumstances. Matt's combination of systematization, hard work and endless confidence are a key factor in our optimism."
Eugene Petrucci (slideshow photo 2)
associate executive director
Twilight Wish Foundation
Rod Ammon, vice chair at the Twilight Wish Foundation, and founder and Executive Director Cass Forkin agree that Gene Petrucci counts as a "doing-est doer" in the world of fundraising.
"Last year, we celebrated five years and were building corporate sponsors when the economy tanked, and we had to rethink our fundraising plan as the corporations put a hold on all marketing and philanthropic ventures," Cass writes, explaining that Gene started the "Do Good, Feel Good" program to encourage growth in the number of small, monthly donations from individuals and compensate for dwindling corporate support.
Being too deeply mired in the corporate-giving mind-set is problematic when the economy takes a downward turn, and Gene's idea was a move that exemplifies the flexibility that fundraisers need to keep their programs strong in the face of the changing economic atmosphere.
The unfortunate twist is the economic turbulence resulted in Gene himself being laid off last year.
Cass explains: "Gene was made aware of the impending layoff [while he was still in the midst of his projects], and he has continued to volunteer his time since the layoff; he does about 30 hours of volunteer service to Twilight Wish each week and, in addition, we pay him a small consulting rate for 10 hours each week since then. Twilight Wish is beginning to see an increase in donations and sponsors in the past few months as people are recovering from the economic downturn, and it is our hope to be able to hire him back full time in the near future."
Writes Rod: "The amazing thing is this guy won't stop. He is a believer and carries a positive spirit like few I have ever seen."
Missy Ryan (slideshow photo 3)
senior director of development
College of Business and Behavioral Science at Clemson University
The economic downturn, it seems, is pushing fundraisers to new heights of creativity and determination and, as a result, creating more "fundraising stars."
Even in the tough economy that dictated unprecedented state budget cuts at Clemson University, Missy Ryan brought in more than $7.3 million in fundraising to the school, exceeding her annual goals, according to Claude Lilly, dean of the College of Business and Behavioral Science.
"Missy made over $7.8 million in asks to potential donors, and got over $7.3 million of that funded — an astounding number by any standards, but especially given the current economic climate," he explains.
While the university was furloughing employees and other state agencies were reorganizing or laying off, Missy pulled together her team of advancement experts, inspiring them to be productive and achieve greatness, says Kathleen Nalley, director of marketing for the College of Business and Behavioral Science. She made strategic, intentional decisions that laid the foundations for future successes and helped to elevate the perception of the college across the entire campus.
"[Missy's] hard work, can-do attitude and insistence on success [are] inspiring, and motivate others to want to achieve more," Kathleen and Development Associate Kenna Morehouse write. "She is highly respected by her fundraising colleagues, college faculty and administration, and works with each of these entities daily to help Clemson University reach its goals in producing the leaders of tomorrow."
Gregory Boroff (slideshow photo 4)
former senior vice president of external relations
Food Bank For New York City
Under Gregory Boroff's leadership, the performance of the Food Bank For New York City's direct-response fundraising program has improved dramatically, according to Bryan Terpstra, vice president of client services at L.W. Robbins Associates, who writes that Gregory developed a more targeted acquisition plan including a complete revision of the food bank's list strategy, with a refocus on direct-mail responsive lists. Roughly 50 percent of the lists used in prior years were replaced with more responsive lists, Bryan explains.
"The creative strategy was revamped to focus more on a local theme of feeding hungry New Yorkers, with appropriate revisions of proven controls," he writes. "Timing of the mail dates were adjusted to be seasonally appropriate."
In the past year, Gregory's leadership has resulted in income increasing 58 percent to $1,738,762; total current donors increasing 57.4 percent to 15,221; overall donor retention increasing 10.3 percent to 51 percent; number of new donors increasing by 136.4 percent to 7,959; revenue from new donors increasing by 72.8 percent to $642,701; new-donor retention rate increasing by 22.7 percent to 27.6 percent; multiyear donor retention rate increasing by 9 percent to 63.5 percent; multiyear donor revenue increasing by 36.5 percent to $640,184; one-year lapsed donor revenue increasing by 56.5 percent to $139,741; and two-plus-year lapsed donor revenue increasing by 83.7 percent to $136,760.
Sometimes it's best to just let the numbers speak for themselves.
(Editor's note: Gregory left the Food Bank For New York City in May 2009 and now is the vice president and director of development at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.)
Jessica Harrington (slideshow photo 5)
We got excited just reading the nomination for Jessica Harrington that came from freelance copywriter Pru Bovee.
From Pru: "As a freelance copywriter, I work with many direct-mail professionals. But there is only one for whom I would drop everything when called, and that's Jessica Harrington.
"Jessica brings out the absolute best in me; she brings out the best in everyone around her. A star in her own right, Jess is also a playmaker, bringing those around her to a higher quality of work," Pru writes. "She [shares] her own success by mentoring newer fundraisers; she never compromises in honesty, even when it means telling clients a truth they'd rather not face; her courage is legendary, and that courage often provides her clients with windfalls of revenue or membership.
"Jessica is exciting to work with," Pru adds. "Her practical, 'bottom line' exterior hides an impassioned dedication to the belief that the work we do can and will change the world."
Honestly, it's hard not to want to honor someone who elicits that kind of enthusiasm in her colleagues.
Patricia Barrick (slideshow photo 6)
vice president of external relations
Across the country, organizations that provide food to needy families have been experiencing unprecedented need as many once financially stable families find themselves in need of help. City Harvest has been no exception.
The day Lehman Brothers — one of City Harvest's main funders — declared bankruptcy, Patricia Barrick recognized the need for immediate action, calling together her fundraising team to brainstorm ways to communicate to donors how essential the organization's mission would become in the following months.
"Pat pushed all areas of fundraising to continually fine-tune every mailing or donor interaction to address the most current news coverage, and all communications were honed to demonstrate the urgency of City Harvest's work," writes Jennifer McLean, vice president of program operations at City Harvest.
Patricia realized that fresh thinking would be critical to City Harvest's success and spearheaded a major campaign to spread the word. That included having the organization's executive director talk with reporters to communicate what City Harvest was seeing on the ground at emergency feeding programs; working with members of the board's development committee to each personally reach out to and forge deeper relationships with 25 donors; instituting a biweekly "Cup of Cheer" e-mail blast around the holidays to present positive stories of donor generosity; and positioning City Harvest to benefit from companies scaling back on holiday parties and gifts.
Her quick thinking and fearless approach resulted in City Harvest ending the year above budget and the previous year's actuals, enabling the operations team to rescue a record 27 million pounds of food.
"In particular, our direct-mail program ended the year more than $600,000 above goal, a remarkable success given the economy and the negative impact it had on many other organizations' programs," Jennifer writes. "By acting first and staying on point throughout the year, Pat was able to make sure that if donors were able to give, they would understand why they should choose City Harvest."