Last Look: An Interview With Kristin Valentine, Director of Development, Bread for the City
Bread for the City began as a volunteer-run free health clinic in 1974. Shortly thereafter, it began distributing food and clothing to the poor of Washington, D.C. Over the years, the organization's programs grew to include a legal clinic, social services program and, most recently, an advocacy program. In 2002, Bread for the City opened its second full-service center in Southeast D.C., and currently is undergoing an $8.25 million capital campaign to expand its Northwest Center by 11,000 square feet. The goal is to break ground for this new project in fall 2009, with a projected move-in date of fall 2010.
Here, we talk with Director of Development Kristin Valentine about the organization and its fundraising strategies and challenges.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
Kristin Valentine: Combination of foundation and government grants, direct mail and online solicitations, and special events.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
KV: Like many nonprofits, we are seeing a decrease in our average gift size. At the same time, more clients are coming through our doors in need of help. Bread for the City has had to respond by temporarily cutting staff salaries and limiting program hours. Our main drive to overcome these challenges is a renewed effort to reach out to potential supporters through our current supporters — hands down, that is still the most successful way to reach new, high-dollar donors.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
KV: Over the past three years we have changed how we fundraise in a few ways. We launched a new Web site with membership capabilities, as well as a Facebook page, blog and Twitter feed. All areas have experienced different levels of success. We now solicit gifts through e-mail campaigns and have the capacity to sell event tickets online. We still hold our big gala every year but now have several small, free or inexpensive events (five to 50 people) throughout the year for current and prospective donors. We have also changed the length and format of our print newsletter and direct-mail pieces, including the response device.