An Interview With Dani Brzozowski, director of development, Open Books
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
DB: We haven’t done any direct mail at Open Books, and I don’t see that changing at all. Our organization is such a model for grassroots success, and direct mail is the antithesis to the organic approach we take to everything else. I would really like to have a volunteer-staffed phonathon in the near future — to give our volunteers another opportunity to make a big impact on Open Books and to really do a guerilla-style fundraising appeal. So many of them feel so strongly about Open Books and our mission. That passion is something they’ll absolutely be capable of (and, I think, excited about) conveying to potential donors.
FS: Describe your fundraising philosophy?
DB: At Open Books, we have so many strengths. I was extraordinarily lucky to come on board with a staff that was already doing everything right. Our leadership is brilliant and focused; our marketing and public relations are a whirlwind of positive attention; our volunteer corps is enormous and dedicated; our approach is spot-on: collaborative, ambitious, and capable; and our programs themselves are extraordinary. My fundraising philosophy is centered on finding the funders and the individual donors who care as deeply about eradicating illiteracy as Open Books does. That mutual conviction is the driving force for all successful fundraising, and it’s the most important thing to me as I try to garner gifts.
FS: How do you reach out to supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising? Are you engaged with the new social-media sites — MySpace, Facebook etc. — and online social networking?
DB: “We do utilize Facebook, though our biggest online success has been the community we’ve built through our own Web site. We communicate frequently with our volunteers and supporters through e-mail, and our Web site and blog draw around 7,400 hits per month. We’ve used a lot of traditional media outlets to drum up interest and [Director of Marketing and Public relations Becca Keaty] is a powerhouse, securing features in TimeOut Chicago, The Chicago Reader, Crain’s Chicago Business, and on CBS2 FOX News, among others.”