An Interview With Kerry Whitlock, director of major gifts, Friends of the World Food Program
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
KW: Last year presented a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The world was faced with a global food crisis caused by a sharp spike in food and fuel prices that sparked panic in several countries. While the demand for food assistance grew, WFP was facing severe funding shortfalls. Soon after, the financial crisis hit, creating yet another challenge. We took this opportunity to educate and raise awareness of global hunger and its impact, while encouraging Americans to take action. Many people were motivated to do something to help the nearly 1 billion who suffer from hunger worldwide.
FS: What advice would you give to organizations similar to yours, in size and annual operating budget?
KW: Never underestimate the power of a good fundraising database to make your work more efficient and effective. Also, raising awareness is key. There are so many good causes that are competing for dollars; it requires constant work to make yours stand out.
FS: Any additional thoughts?
KW: We acknowledge that many Americans are facing some critical challenges right now. However, there are so many things people can do to help whether it’s making a donation, organizing a local fundraiser, writing a letter to the editor or urging Congress to support international food assistance programs. Despite the financial situation, there are still enough resources for companies and individuals to get involved. It’s understandable that in the midst of a financial crisis, we want to make helping Americans a priority over foreign assistance, but we can do both. America has a proud history of helping developing countries. We must strive to continue this trend of American generosity even if there are obstacles. To donate, volunteer or learn more visit www.friendsofwfp.org.