A Minute With Cristi Hegranes, Founder and Executive Director, The Global Press Institute
I recently took a minute to sit down with Cristi Hegranes, founder and executive director of The Global Press Institute (which wasn't easy since she was traveling through Africa). Cristi recently was named the winner of the prestigious Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize from Grinnell College.
GPI is an award-winning, high-impact social venture that uses journalism to educate, employ and empower women in the developing world to produce high-quality local news coverage that elevates global awareness and ignites social change. Its annual operating budget is $380,000, and it relies on the philanthropic contributions of individuals, foundations and institutions. The large majority of its funding comes from major gifts, though it also has a robust set of grassroots donors who contribute through events, online campaigns and a Web-based Social Investment Center.
Dane Grams: What are GPI's fundraising strengths and weaknesses?
Cristi Hegranes: GPI's biggest fundraising strength is the quality of our product: award-winning, well-written, ethical news coverage about the developing world. Our fundraising is also helped dramatically by our social impact orientation, our multi-dimensional model for creating impact and a strong fundraising team led by Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies. Our biggest weaknesses are a lack of name recognition and a relatively small budget — though the budget has grown by more than 150 percent in the past year alone.
DG: Any major fundraising difficulties or setbacks?
CH: 2012 has been our single best fundraising year in the six-year history of GPI. But along the way we encountered many of the same setbacks that many small organizations do: grant proposals that went nowhere, funders telling us that our budget was too small for their consideration, a lack of general operating support and a depressing sense that we were beating our heads against a wall. Even now we occasionally run into challenges, such as unfulfilled commitments, but we've diversified our revenue and created strong financial management systems to weather most challenges. I also have good advisors who help me look past the daily ups and downs that are inevitable in fundraising.