An Interview with Sean Scanlon, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
But it also happens because we are investing in marketing our planned-giving program, careful segmentation with our database partner, and integration through our direct-mail program. In addition, we are proud of our commitment to friendly and intelligent member engagement. So over the decades, most members of the Lab participate with us on one level or another — sharing data or just sharing stories about their love of birds on their feeders. All of my colleagues have a real passion for friendly public accessibility.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way as far as
fundraising is concerned?
SS: Yes. I started at the Lab in the summer 2008, just in time for the worst economic recession in the past 70 years. It was a very challenging way to start. In addition, the development culture of the organization was very passive at the time. I am thrilled that we now have an excellent fundraising team, but changing the culture of the organization has been a slow and methodical process with some personnel and management setbacks during this difficult period.
FS: Any things you would do differently with your fundraising?
SS: Ithaca likes to joke about itself as "centrally isolated" — coming from Chicago, I can agree with that. This provides challenges for us to engage our members in events that help us build personal relationships. We are starting to think more creatively about how to meet our supporters across the country, beginning with a major-gift officer based in the AAD New York City office.
FS: What is the organization's fundraising philosophy?
SS: I believe that fundraising is an expression of values — by the donors and the organization. Therefore, we know that different people place different levels of emphasis on our mission and its impacts, and we try to meet them where they are.