A Minute With Amber Fowler, Executive Director, Northwest Burn Foundation
FundRaising Success: What is the mission of the Northwest Burn Foundation?
Amber Fowler: Our mission is to prevent burns and to improve the quality of life for burn survivors through programs, education and research.
FS: How does the organization fund its mission?
AF: We receive generous financial support from family foundations, private donations, corporate giving and through three signature annual fundraising events, including our annual gala (March), Golf Classic (June) and Give Burns the Boot (October).
FS: What are the organization's fundraising strengths/weaknesses?
AF: Our two strengths lie in the fact that we have a 30-year legacy of serving burn-injury survivors and their families in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, and we have a strong relationship with the world-class Harborview Burn Center in Seattle.
Our two weaknesses lie in the fact that for more than 10 years, our organization has not diversified its funding base by truly engaging the constituencies we serve outside of the Puget Sound (Seattle-area). Second, failing to stay on top of changes in technology has inhibited our ability to manage our data and inhibited the way we communicate with and to our citizenry.
FS: How does it engage supporters in ways other than fundraising?
AF: We have undertaken an ambitious effort to plan, create, initiate and evaluate new and fresh event opportunities that further advance the foundation's mission and financial objectives, specifically in the areas of community relations and scald kit program outreach.
Establishing education outreach programs within grade schools and with those organizations that serve populations age 55+ serves as an untapped opportunity to connect with parents and adult and child care providers to educate them about our programs and services while building our donor base.
FS: Can you share a success story?
AF: Business partnerships are definitely not a new concept to the nonprofit sector. However, we made a deeply concerted effort to join forces with the business sector for our 2012 8th Annual Golf Classic this past June. The Golf Classic was a huge success after having opted to partner with the local chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. Both of our organizations were enthusiastic about collaborating on our annual golf event because it reinvigorated both our player bases, allowing our like-minded fire protection industry leaders/donors to conduct business on the golf course while still raising valuable funds for the Northwest Burn Foundation. With a sold-out field of 144 golfers, a vast array of sponsors for the event and each of the 18 holes, both our organizations are looking forward to the June 2013 event!
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks as far as fundraising is concerned?
AF: As a 30-year-old nonprofit, in the past, we have grown very comfortable with routinely returning to the same well, as it were, to seek financial support in our annual fundraising efforts. Obviously, this did not [allow] for a long-term strategic plan, and now, we are playing catch-up to enhance our online giving efforts, improving our website presence and generally looking to social media to further expand our online presence.
FS: What is the organization's fundraising philosophy?
AF: We are working diligently to become a true donor-centric organization, one that encourages donor involvement and support, which is then evidenced by the value and larger impact we have through our program services in the five states we serve.
Dane Grams is director of nonprofit services at Care2 and co-chair of the FundRaising Success Editorial Advisory Board. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dane Grams is the director of membership for Human Rights Campaign. He has held senior positions at Amnesty International, Greenpeace USA and Care2. Reach him at email@example.com.