An Interview With Kerry Whitlock, director of major gifts, Friends of the World Food Program
FS: Are you engaged with the new social media sites — MySpace, Facebook, etc. — and online social networking?
KW: Absolutely. We have a presence on MySpace (882 friends), Facebook (2,164 fans) and Twitter (1,503 followers). We also have an official blog, and we encourage donors, volunteers and other supporters to share their thoughts. All of our online social networks are interconnected to ensure that our followers are kept informed of latest developments, which often include calls to action. Our goal is to create a viral grassroots presence that will attract people to our online campaigns and encourage them to take action, whether that be in the form of a donation or volunteer effort or both.
FS: Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
KW: Last December, our WFP Committee of Los Angeles (a group of local volunteers dedicated to alleviating world hunger) hosted a small fundraiser at a private residence. The event was attended by donors as well as Margot Hoerrner, vice president of outreach; Karen Sendelback, president and CEO; and Dan Glickman, board of directors vice chairman and head of the Motion Picture Association of America. In just one evening, nearly $35,000 was raised. This event wasn’t just successful because of the money raised, but also because it demonstrates the dedication of our volunteers and showcases what they’re truly capable of. We’re very proud of that.
Another example I’d like to point out is when Drew Barrymore made a major donation during her appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." In March 2008, Barrymore, WFP ambassador against hunger, announced that she would donate $1 million to WFP. She talked about her trips to Kenya, where she visited WFP school meals programs. By talking about the people she met and her personal feelings about global hunger, she really motivated people to get involved. Soon after her appearance, we experienced a significant peak in online donations and received numerous inquiries about volunteering. All of this happened within 24 hours of Barrymore’s appearance on the show.