Broadening the Appeal
Organization: The Children’s Aid Society, New York City, founded in 1853 to serve needy children and families through a broad network of services, including education, health, counseling, adoption, foster care, arts, recreation and emergency assistance.
Financial snapshot: FYE 6/2003 revenue: $74,767,691; FYE 6/2003 assets: $258,163,829; FYE 6/2003 fundraising expenses: $1,552,695.
New fundraising initiatives: “What we’ve been doing in the last year or so is mailing to the same lists,” shares Patricia Grayson, assistant executive director for development. “Many of our donors are expressing to us that they’re tired of getting so much direct mail. In the near future we will continue to do acquisition, but we’ll look at scaling back and focusing more on some of the other areas to target donors.”
Among new initiatives, CAS has started hosting informational roundtables of 15 to 25 major donors and prospects, having board members call donors to thank them for their gifts, partnering more with local corporations and diversifying its individual-donor base.
“We long have suspected that our typical donor is a little old lady who loves kids and doesn’t have much to do,” Grayson says. “That was an image that was just too simplistic. We have sharpened our focus and tried to get as much information as possible about our donors.”
One of the areas CAS has invested deeply in is the Web. “Our online donations, just in the last year, have increased by 54 percent,” she says. The organization, in an effort to cultivate its 1,000+ page Web site, expressly hired a staff member to find out more about major donors who give online.
“In the last month we received three unsolicited gifts through the Web: two for $10,000 and one for $16,000,” Grayson says. “We’re going to incorporate a very specific, personalized strategy to follow up with these [donors].”