And The Winners Are ...
[Editor’s Note: Ah, the power of the Web. Here we are making corrections to a story that most of you haven’t even seen in print yet. Looks like we flubbed a couple of the categories in our Fundraising Pofessionals of the Year Awards. Specifically:
- Katya Andresen of Network for Good was named Fundraising Professional of the Year (Agency). NFG is, indeed, a nonprofit organization.
- The Dixie Chicks — the fundraising team from Heifer International (Dixie Ost, director of direct marketing; Kim Perrow and Christy Moore, direct marketing managers; and Misty Thornton, reporting and analytics manager) were named one of the Top Women in Fundraising (Agency), when, again, Heifer is a nonprofit organization, not a fundraising consultancy.
This story clarifies the information for those winners who were incorrectly categorized, but we’ve decided against naming additional winners so as to avoid confusion, since it’s one thing to make a correction on a Web site but quite another when conflicting copy exists in the much longer-lived print issue. We apologize for the mix-ups. -- MB]
I’ve said this before, but it remains true: I’ve long believed that fundraisers are a rare breed. Passionate. Dedicated. Creative. Tenacious. And most of them, at their very core, true believers.
Where those qualities converge, it’s tough to find anything short of excellence. Such is the happy but difficult dilemma we face when we think about who to honor in efforts such as this, FundRaising Success’ second annual Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards. There are plenty of choices to weigh, campaigns to praise and people to recognize. The process begins and, when it’s over, you find yourself with 50 people who deserve to have their names engraved on the plaques — but only 20-ish spaces to fill. Not to mention the 50 others who it broke your heart to have to “cut” in the first go ’round.
Our winners are chosen from nominations sent in from FundRaising Success readers, others solicited from members of our Editorial Advisory Board and colleagues, and still others named by FS staff members. The process is fairly subjective, based on staff impressions of the nominating information rather than simply by number of nominations.
A little different from last year, the 2007 categories include Fundraising Professional of the Year, Lifetime Achievement (30+ years in fundraising), Top Women, Top Men and Rising Stars (five years or fewer in fundraising).
The nominees included names you know and just as many that you don’t, old pros and young guns, shining stars and those who toil just out of the warm glow of the spotlight. In general, we looked for people who have accomplished things — either in one fell swoop or over the course of a career — that either enrich the sector in one way or another, or embody important trends in fundraising.
Please join us in congratulating the winners, as well as thanking them for their hard work and dedication. And if you think we missed someone, make a note for next year and be sure to nominate him or her.
FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR — ORGANIZATION
Senior vice president of development and communications
In 2005-2006, Jo Sullivan launched the ASPCA into a rebranding effort that helped it reposition itself as a unique entity in animal welfare. She did it even though ASPCA’s coffers where healthy, there wasn’t much time for testing, and there was a chance the new look of the ASPCA brand might alienate existing donors. The effort illustrates the traits that establish Jo as the kind of fundraiser that will drive the sector in the near future: fearless, innovative and savvy. She’s also multi-faceted — combining true love of her mission with equally true love of her job, and the genuine concern of a grassroots fundraiser with the hardcore business know-how that fuels consumer-side marketers. We’d been hearing Jo’s name as “someone to know” for quite some time before we featured ASPCA on our April 2006 cover. But hearing about Jo is one thing; knowing her is quite another. We’re happy to honor her here because she has the smarts, the style and the balls to keep the ASPCA on the cutting edge of friendraising and fundraising, and to serve as a great example for her peers and those coming up in the sector.
FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR — CHARITABLE RESOURCE
Vice president of marketing
Network for Good
Katya Andresen has a passion for helping people well and quickly that’s born from the social need she saw as a journalist prior to working in the nonprofit sector. That passion ignites the work she does for Network for Good, an online charitable resource that unites donors, volunteers and charities to meet social needs. Since its launch in November 2001, more than $100 million has been donated to more than 20,000 charities via Network for Good, and nearly 240,000 people were matched with volunteer opportunities. These results are a testament to Katya’s tireless drive to leverage the media and corporate partnerships to keep giving top of mind in our society, and her innovative use of social networking tools like Network for Good’s Charity Badge to turn constituents into rallying spokespersons. Her recently published book “Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes” shows how nonprofits can use marketing principles to reach the public and inspire them to action, ideas that she writes about daily on her popular blog. On behalf of all the organizations she and Network for Good have helped, FundRaising Success salutes her!
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT — ORGANIZATION
Atlanta Community Food Bank
Bruce Donnelly got his professional start as the sole fundraiser for a neighborhood-improvement project on the West Side of Chicago in the early 1970s. He took his grass-roots experience global later in the decade, initiating social-development programs overseas for the Institute of Cultural Affairs. Since then, he’s been the first and only development director for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and has been exceeding annual development goals for 21 years. He headed an $11 million capital campaign that eventually resulted in a 52 percent increase in the amount of food ACFB has been able to provide. Whether he’s harnessed it to make better lives for kids in Chicago, villagers in Southeast Asia or Atlanta’s hungry and homeless population, Bruce’s fearless passion for taking on new challenges coupled with his lifelong commitment to changing the world exemplifies the kind of dedication we’re happy to honor with our Lifetime Achievement award.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT — AGENCY
Chief executive officeR
Target Analysis Group
Chuck Longfield might be one of fundraising’s best-kept secrets. His isn’t a name you hear bandied about as much as others in the software/analytics game, but he is nonetheless a visionary in a facet of fundraising that is constantly reinventing itself. He developed his first donor-relationship-management system for Access International in 1978, and it was quickly adopted by organizations around the country. After a short foray into education, Chuck formed the Target Analysis Group. Since then, he’s developed increasingly sophisticated software options to allow nonprofits to track and analyze donor data, and he’s worked diligently to encourage and enable them to openly share information to learn from each other and develop winning fundraising practices. Chuck has made a career of being intimately in tune with the sector. He’s honored here for his vision and for a professional lifetime dedicated to improving nonprofits’ relationships to their data, their donors and one another.
TOP MEN IN FUNDRAISING — ORGANIZATION
Vice president of development
Gleaners Community Food Bank
The nomination for Gerry Brisson stresses his 22-year commitment to working with organizations to raise funds to keep their missions alive in ways that can be sustained over the long haul. His career hasn’t been glitzy, but he’s helped organizations — as a staff person, independent consultant and even as a volunteer — to steadily increase their revenue through common-sense development strategies. His most recent accomplishment: In less than a year with Gleaners, he’s well on his way to realizing a 50 percent increase in direct-mail income, taking it from $997,760 in FY 2006 to a projected $1,564,000 in FY 2007.
Richard H. Meyer
Executive vice president
Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Most successful fundraising campaigns rely on complete buy-in from organization executives. Richard Meyer has been hailed for his cohesive leadership and hands-on participation in the MJF Community Capital Campaign that has raised more than $43 million, exceeding its $40 million goal, to fund a series of building and expansion projects in the metropolitan Milwaukee area. From choosing leaders and encouraging leadership giving, to working with beneficiary organizations to create compelling case statements, to assigning solicitations and making personal appeals, to fostering an overall sense of cooperation, Richard’s leadership exemplifies the all-for-one, one-for-all approach that often leads to the most stunning fundraising results.
Chief marketing officer
International Rescue Committee
Marc Sirkin is making sure the organizations he works for are among the first into the e-philanthropy fray. He pushed the envelope with both off- and online marketing at the March of Dimes, and then increased online revenues at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to more than $40 million, more than doubling them in less than two years. He’s honored here for his vision in using Web 2.0 strategies such as search-engine optimization and social networking to enhance fundraising efforts across the board. At the end of December, Marc departed LLS for the International Rescue Committee.
TOP MEN IN FUNDRAISING — AGENCY
Kurt Aschermann is one of the rare breed of fundraisers who can speak forcefully, eloquently and from a deep well of knowledge on a large variety of topics, from cause marketing to board development to nonprofit management. He was a driving force as senior vice president and chief development officer for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and, in his role as president of Charity Partners, he’s exploring innovative fundraising solutions for organizations around the country. He sees the future and has a realistic plan for taking nonprofits into it. He’s honored here for his big-picture thinking and a healthy, holistic vision of the sector.
Teacher, leader, advocate and, oh yeah, fundraiser. Tim Burgess wears many hats as a consultant to nonprofit organizations of every size and mission around the country. But what sets him apart is that he melds all of them into one to form a consummate fundraising professional who lives — and works — with passion, gentle determination and intrepid spirituality. The column that Tim has been writing for FundRaising Success is aptly titled on many levels — “Because It Matters.” He writes what he knows, which, among many things, is that fundraising does, indeed, matter. And that the best in the sector know that, live that and love that.
Robert Sharpe Jr.
The Sharpe Group
Despite the flashy influence of e-communications on the fundraising sector, not every situation calls for faster-than-the-speed-of-light cultivation. Though not removed from the touch of emerging technologies, planned giving remains one area where patience prevails and a sense of calm and stability wins more favor than a dazzling grasp of the bells and whistles of the Internet. Bob Sharpe is an all-around fundraising consultant and one of the country’s foremost authorities on gift planning. He wraps his vast knowledge in a cloak of distinguished reserve that sets the tone for nonprofits’ planned-giving efforts, and arms them with sophisticated, time-tested techniques and the know-how to enhance them with the most appropriate of the new technologies.
TOP WOMEN IN FUNDRAISING — ORGANIZATION
Union Rescue Mission
As grants consultant, Kerri Feazell is in charge of private foundation relationships. In her first year, she developed 80 new ones, bringing in more than $135,000 in first-time gifts and pledges. She also rebuilt URM’s Web site and introduced online content management and CRM. But we’re most impressed with how she dealt with the limited funds available for her department to accomplish its goals. Creating an internship program, she mentored seven students, teaching grant research and writing, and gift-cultivation skills. She’s honored here for finding a terrific way to maximize her limited resources and for taking steps to ensure the future crop of talented fundraisers.
American Friends of Alyn Hospital
In seven years, Cathy Lanyard grew AFAH’s donor base from 1,000 names to more than 20,000, increased annual giving by nearly 500 percent, doubled her staff and office space, and managed to keep overhead low. Impressive. And even more so, when you consider that AFAH raises funds to treat sick children in Israel, and that 90 percent of her donors never see the facility or its patients. Her devotion comes through in her appeal letters, thank-you notes and face-to-face meetings. Cathy is honored here for her ability — so essential in nonprofit fundraising — to put real faces on the stories of how donors’ contributions help.
Director of development
Food Bank of the Rockies
Nominations for Kim Ruotsala mention numerous fundraising accomplishments, from increasing annual campaign funds from $700,000 in 1997 to more than $3 million in 2006, to establishing a now 10-year-old celebrity golf classic. But the one we focused on most is her development of the food bank’s BackPack Program, which sends needy children home from school each Friday with a backpack full of food to ensure they eat well over the weekend. It’s not exactly fundraising, but this fresh, creative approach to mission fulfillment can only encourage financial support by showing donors that there are exciting programs out there to fund.
The “Dixie Chicks”
Dixie Ost, director of direct marketing; Kim Perrow and Christy Moore, direct marketing managers; and Misty Thornton, reporting and analytics manager Heifer International
Here we are, breaking the rules of our own awards program in just our second year. We’re honoring four women — Dixie Ost, director of direct marketing; Kim Perrow and Christy Moore, direct marketing managers; and Misty Thornton, reporting and analytics manager — as one of the top women in fundraising because they represent a spirit of camaraderie that can only produce stellar results. The team uses extensive testing (15 versions of the Heifer catalog for prospecting and 12 for the house file) to push the limits of what a direct-marketing program can do. These women have increased the income generated by the program more than 206 percent.
TOP WOMEN IN FUNDRAISING — AGENCY
Vice president of client services
Direct Advantage Marketing
Tele-fundraising takes its fair share of knocks. And with cheaper, quicker alternatives taking the sector by storm, it takes extra effort to keep this particular fundraising channel from going static. Lisa Drane hasn’t seemed to notice. Her agency raised $165 million in telemarketing donations for 60 organization in 2006. Whether it was providing personal training for everyone who makes calls for Heifer International (resulting in a 22 percent pledge rate, an average $160 gift and 42 percent credit card rate) or spearheading an operation that raised $1 million for Habitat for Humanity in the days after Katrina, Lisa is breathing new life into the call center and constantly seeking innovative ways to create fundraising success for clients.
Chief creative officer
L.W. Robbins Associates
We wrote in the introduction that the convergence of certain traits rarely results in anything short of excellence. One of the best examples of that is Robin Riggs. Rather than focus on her roster of award-winning campaigns for organizations such as National Audubon Society, Doctors Without Borders and Special Olympics, we’re honoring her for being a consummate fundraising professional who, like her boss (Lynn Edmonds, honored last year), combines a firm grasp of the basics with a thorough understanding of sophisticated innovations, and respect for traditional direct mail with innovative package formats, and e-mail and online-marketing strategies. Robin brings 25 years of direct-response marketing experience to the table with a style as fresh as this morning’s headlines.
RISING STARS — ORGANIZATION
Planned Parenthood Online
Ted Kohnen already is known for his talent for harnessing the power of integrated campaigns. Among his credits at Planned Parenthood Federation of America: launching the Stand With the States campaign, which increased online donations in 2006 76 percent over 2005; recruiting, with just one e-mail, 4,000 supporters to watch an issues-related podcast; and relaunching the www.plannedparenthood.org Web site, with an increased emphasis on monthly and memorial giving and increasing online giving by 15 percent. These accomplishments listed in the nomination for Ted make it clear that he more than deserves to be honored as a rising star in the sector.
RISING STARS — AGENCY
Creative Direct Response
Sometimes you just want to smack him — well, at least if you’re over 40. In his articles, which are popping up all around the sector and focus on the hottest trends in e-philanthropy, Michael Knipp says things like, “Way back in 1991, at the ripe old age of 10, I ...” Are you getting our drift? He’s irreverent and might come off as brash, but there’s no denying that he’s giving voice to the preferences of the next generation of donors. CDR is lucky to have him, and we’re lucky to be able to read him.
FS STAFF PICK FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION CONTRIBUTION TO THE SECTOR
Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation
Now in its third year, the Nonprofit Federation’s Leadership Summit continues to mature into just the kind of thing the sector needs. While fundraisers are well served by the many conferences that are jam-packed with educational sessions that run the gamut of their professional responsibilities — direct-mail basics after breakfast, e-mail deliverability before lunch, planned giving just prior to the evening cocktail party — the Leadership Summit is a different breed of animal, providing senior-level fundraisers the opportunity to tune in to bigger-picture issues that too often have to take a back seat to the details of fundraising. What trends are waiting around the next corner? How do you secure executive buy-in for your brilliant plans? Who exactly is giving? Who isn’t? And why not? From its highly focused content to its more relaxed pace and agenda, it’s a fresh approach to the conference concept. We applaud and encourage its continued growth.
FS STAFF PICK FOR CORPORATE CONTRIBUTION TO THE SECTOR
Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about how popular social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook can help engage young people early on in the idea of activism, volunteerism and, eventually, philanthropy. But long before these sites became the talk of the town — in 1997, in fact — Care2.com emerged to do just that. It came on the scene not as a network to encourage idle chatter or ill-advised hook-ups, but rather as a cyber gathering place where like-minded folks could share their thoughts, sign petitions, participate in protests or campaigns, and generally live a more connected life. Maybe because it was ahead of its time, Care2 seems not to have reached the media-darling status of the other sites, which nonprofits just now are recognizing as important channels in nurturing philanthropy among younger, Web-savvy users. So it feels only right to give the props where they’re due.