An Interview with Jodina Hicks, Executive Director, UrbanPromise
FS: Can you share a recent fundraising success? Why was it successful?
JH: [Our] Christmas emergency drive. In response to a board member's request to do something special for a family in need, we found that we had several families in significant need, so we reached out to a number of board members, donors/partners who are close to UrbanPromise, and in the course of five days we raised $30,000 from about 40 donors, which helped 30 families with food, utilities, housing eviction and Christmas presents.
I believe it was successful in part because people are very generous at Christmas, but also because these particular donors (partners) know our kids well and had an immediate response to help. Most of our help was given within 48 hours of the e-mail request. We also executed the spending immediately and gave the donors immediate feedback (before Christmas) as to how their dollars were used.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
JH: One cautionary aspect that happened was after a major media event, short-term givers spiked and overinflated the organization's budget. It was difficult to assess the percentage of donors that would continue giving, and the drop-off was much higher than any other giving scenario the organization had experienced.
FS: What is your organization's fundraising philosophy?
JH: It is important to engage funders in being part of the UrbanPromise community through hands-on experiences, ongoing volunteerism, and updated, engaging information and images. UP sees its donors as part of its ministry. Allowing donors to engage/give/volunteer helps them to grow and evolve.
- UP's focus is to diversify funding sources, with individuals from the surrounding community composing the primary giving base.
- UP's goal is to build long-term relationships with individuals and actively engage them. We don't seek one-time/short-term giving.
- Every staff person has a role with fund development.
- It is important to get potential funders on site. If/when they see UP
in action, they are very likely to give and connect to the UP mission.
- Donors receive from our youth, as well as give to them. Youth are part of the fund-development scenario by both giving and receiving from our donor base.
FS: What advice would you give to organizations similar to yours in size and annual operating budget?
JH: Keep an eye on diversification of funding sources, and cultivate long-term funders. Short-term/one-time giving can be damaging, particularly if there is not a clear path to sustaining/replacing short-term opportunities.