Looking Out for the Little Guy
They say there’s strength in numbers, and that seems to be the case for organizations that become the special projects of the Catalog for Giving. The New York-based nonprofit raises funds for small organizations — with limited budgets — that provide education and support to New York City youths affected by poverty, drugs, crime and abuse. Here, Executive Director Susan Wyant talks about her organization’s mission and how it’s funded.
FundRaising Success: Tell us a little bit about your organization.
Susan Wyant: We serve as sort of an incubator for these groups; many of them don’t have a full-time fundraising staff, or any fundraising staff, or even a way to get their stories out. So, what we do is serve as their fundraiser. We raise awareness and funds for them. We put together a catalog every three years, and we feature 10 organizations every three years. [Each] one is featured on a different page, and a compelling story is told about them; [we include] wonderful photos and an opportunity for the donor to give. We give them sustained support, and then at the end of three years we’re hoping that they’re self-sufficient enough [so] that we [can] go out and find 10 new ones.
FS: What are the primary ways your organization receives funding?
SW: Most of the fundraising we currently receive comes from our huge special event, which is our Urban Heroes Awards Benefit, [which] brings in about 50 percent of our budget, and then the rest comes from individual donors, major gifts, and to a lesser extent, foundation and corporate support.
FS: What are your main methods of acquiring gifts from those sources?
SW: What’s unique about us is our board fully funds our operating expenses so that every dollar a donor gives us goes directly to helping young people. Our board members make a commitment when they come on that their fundraising efforts on our behalf will go toward the operating budget so that any amount of money the general donor, John Q. Public, submits to us goes toward the kids. They help open doors for major gifts and for individual donors. We are conducting what we’re calling C4C; it’s the Campaign 4 Children, and we’re trying to get some new revenue sources — new individual donors to give over a three-year period.
FS: What advice can you give nonprofits seeking to raise funds for their cause in large urban areas where the competition for funding is greater?
SW: When you are responsible for raising dollars for a nonprofit, you really need to believe in the cause and feel passionate about the work you do on a day-to-day basis. And many times that passion really does come through in writing a proposal or when you meet a prospective donor. You know, when I meet people and tell them what I do, I think they get excited because I’m excited about the good work that we do. Everybody wants to feel that their dollar is making an impact.