Last Look: An Interview With Vince Micone, Vice President of Development, Partnership for Public Service
The Washington, D.C.-based Partnership for Public Service was founded by Samuel J. Heyman in 2001. A veteran of the Kennedy Justice Department, Heyman created the Partnership in an effort to restore prestige to government service and re-establish the federal government as an attractive employer for America’s best and brightest.
Working to revitalize public service and improve government performance, the Partnership pursues three strategic goals: building communities of support, securing the right talent and fueling innovation.
Here, we talk with Vice President of Development Vince Micone about the organization and its fundraising strategies and challenges.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
Vince Micone: Our mission is funded through a variety of revenue streams. Our goal is to expand our portfolio of revenue and increase our fee-for-service income. Currently, our programs are funded by individual and corporate contributions (50 percent of revenue), foundation grants (27 percent of revenue), fee-for-service reimbursements (22 percent of revenue) and miscellaneous income (1 percent of revenue).
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
VM: We believe that finding and retaining the right talent for the federal government is essential at a time when the challenges facing our nation and government are so significant. Our programs, research and training activities are focused on federal employees — our key constituents and benefactors. However, we cannot solicit these constituents in the same way that other nonprofits may solicit those who benefit from their services. (It’s prohibited to solicit federal government employees outside of the narrow parameters of the Combined Federal Campaign.) As a result, we work hard to identify those with an interest in good government and nurture them to become donors.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
VM: Every nonprofit must be nimble in reaching new donors in this economy. We will continue to build our core fundraising capacity and try different ways to attract supporters to our cause of good government. One of our strategies is to diversify our revenue by increasing fee-for-service efforts and attracting supporters through the programs we administer.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
VM: Our philosophy is that everyone who works at the Partnership is part of the development team. We work across programs and activities to initiate and sustain relationships with contributors and constituents. Fortunately, a bright light is shining on the importance of government, and we are working to leverage that attention.
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?
VM: We do incorporate social networking as a part of our outreach strategy and fundraising. We also maintain “Partnership Connect,” a virtual community for our constituents. We are currently evaluating how we can further harness social media and networking to leverage support and interest in our programs.
FS: Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
VM: We have seen a degree of success in attracting sponsors to our annual recognition program for federal employees called the “Service to America Medals.” Though some supporters have had to reduce their contributions, we have been able to work with them to keep them engaged with this important program. We do not believe in walking away from supporters in tough times.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
VM: There is no doubt that the economy has made the climate very challenging. One impact is that we will not be holding our annual fundraising gala this year, as we do not think it is appropriate during these economically challenging times. We have worked to expand and improve our communication and stewardship efforts with our contributors though, using this time as an opportunity to strengthen our connections with our donors.
FS: What advice would you give to organizations similar to yours, in size and annual operating budget?
VM: Recently, several programs from another “good government” nonprofit became a part of the Partnership. The organization had to close its doors due to the financial challenges that have faced so many nonprofits. We looked at this as an opportunity to continue and expand these programs. So far, things have gone very well. Our advice would be to look at other similar organizations — competitors and collaborators alike — to see if there are ways to keep solid programs going in lean times by working together. Often, as we have found, the results can be far greater and real innovation can occur.