An Interview with Jodina Hicks, Executive Director, UrbanPromise
Headquartered in Camden, N.J., UrbanPromise is a community- and faith-based organization that has the goals of equipping Camden's children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management and leadership. Much broader than a "program," UrbanPromise is a community, and one that has been replicated in Africa; Central America; Canada; and cities in the U.S. including Wilmington, Del., Miami, and underway in Trenton, N.J.
Here, Executive Director Jodina Hicks talks more about UrbanPromise's fundraising strategies.
Fundraising Success: How does UrbanPromise fund its mission?
Jodina Hicks: UP is funded primarily through individual contributions (75 percent), corporate support (9 percent), church support (6 percent) and private foundations (10 percent).
- The church has been a primary vehicle for developing individual donors who are aligned with, supportive of and engaged in the mission of UrbanPromise, particularly churches/individuals in the surrounding 30-mile radius of Camden.
- Special events have provided a strong fundraising venue. Our annual banquet raises approximately $100,000 a year, golf tournament $200,000 a year and other special events are growing in their revenue base.
- Cultivation of individual donors and engagement of these donors in volunteering and ongoing interaction with UrbanPromise have been critical to the development of long-term donors who truly believe in, and have a hands-on experience with, our organization. Volunteers serve as tutors, mentors, boat makers and teachers' aides in the classroom. They host groups of students for special meals, provide Christmas presents and Easter baskets, and provide support to college interns/volunteers.
FS: What are your fundraising strengths/weaknesses?
JH: Strengths are special events, PR/website, engagement of donors in our vision and development of long-term church relationships. Weaknesses we are addressing include grant development (government and private), data analysis and reporting (of programmatic and donor data).
FS: How do you engage donors and other supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising efforts?
JH: We engage potential donors (and active donors) in hands-on programmatic/ministry experiences. See the CamdenForward School Partner Program as an ideal funding strategy that engages donors. Through this strategy, individual donors provide $2,500 or more toward tuition for students at our schools. Each partner is matched with a student. They then come on-site and engage in the classroom and over lunch twice per year. They receive cards and updates from their student partners a few times a year. Partners get to follow their students throughout their entire school experience. A lot of love and anticipation is developed through these matches, and it's an extra emotional connection when kids cry when it's time for their partners to leave at the end of partner day. It even makes me teary!