ProFile: Christine Carroll
[That information] … made it possible for us to really value the organization's assets and programs in a way that we could go to corporations that focused on that same demographic and build basically cause-marketing sponsorship relationships [where] we could actually ask for a substantial amount of money based on what we already knew about what the company would be getting back in terms of value.
We also hired somebody. We knew that corporate support was the best avenue for expansion at the time when I got there, so we actually hired somebody who worked full time on corporate prospecting. So even while we were working on maturing the existing relationships and building those to be more financially viable, we had somebody who was spending all of her time building a pipeline of corporate prospects so that we were constantly feeding that pool of prospects. Those things all working together helped us move the corporate support needle forward.
FS: What are the biggest challenges you face today as a fundraiser? How do you overcome them?
CC: The biggest challenge that I face — and a lot of nonprofits face — is something that's been said for a long time, which is the need to diversify your funding base. We've all seen a number of nonprofits that have really struggled or even had to dissolve as a result of only having one or two major funders or they got the bulk of their support from one type of funder and that sector has suffered and either pulled back, scaled back or eliminated funding for an organization, really causing some major problems. So balancing that need for diversifying the funding base with going after the opportunities that are at hand can be a challenge.
For example, I could probably spend 100 percent of my time here on corporate fundraising, but I know that that's not going to serve the organization for the long haul. So I have to make time for foundation fundraising and major gifts as well. I even go as far as scheduling days where I focus on different types of funding so that I make sure that I'm giving each area of funding the attention that it needs.