An Interview With Kerry Whitlock, director of major gifts, Friends of the World Food Program
We are working to change this by educating the public about the issue of hunger. We are striving to raise awareness through the media, by talking with members of Congress and by developing a grassroots network of volunteers who help in spreading our message.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
KW: We are enhancing our current fundraising strategy by expanding our philanthropic efforts online. One excellent example is our Facebook Causes page. Last year, high food prices sparked rioting in several countries, including Haiti. Working closely with Facebook, we launched a Causes Web page designed to raise funds for and awareness about the food crisis in Haiti, which was exacerbated by a series of tropical storms. To date, thanks to a matching grant from The Prem Rawat Foundation, we have raised nearly $50,000 total, and the Cause has over 40,000 followers. Friends of WFP is ahead of the curve, and we strive to continue this successful trend in other online efforts.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
KW: It is critical in fundraising to listen to your donors. You can’t just replicate someone else’s model or do what worked at a previous organization. You can’t just assume that a person or a company will give to you because they have money. You need to be sure you are providing something of value to your donors. You need to listen to how your donors respond to your outreach and solicitations. If you are not getting the results you need (stronger relationships and more money for the cause), then you need to adapt.
FS: How do you reach out to supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising?
KW: We reach out to supporters through raising awareness of the issue of hunger via our e-newsletter, media outreach, speaking engagements, and other outreach initiatives and tools, including social media. We also have a growing network of volunteers who are assisting with getting the word out about WFP, Friends of WFP and the critical issue of hunger.