An Interview With Josh Horwitz, Executive Director, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
FS: How do you engage donors and other supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising efforts?
JH: We have a strong social-media presence that is growing every day. Through this, we are able to stay in constant communication with our current donors and supporters, as well as reach a wide pool of potential supporters with timely, provocative content. As an advocacy organization, we use these channels to facilitate meetings between constituents and their elected officials and generate calls to decision makers. We also use social media to connect grassroots activists to each other to help them organize more effectively. Beyond fundraising, we empower our supporters to get politically active.
FS: Can you share a recent fundraising success? Why was it successful?
JH: This year we have begun to focus more on some of the loyal donors to our direct-mail program, reaching out to them personally for face-to-face meetings or phone calls to keep them better informed and to solicit project funding in addition to annual gifts. This is an ongoing, longer-term strategy, but we have had some significant success in inspiring longtime direct-mail donors to increase their giving through this more individualized approach. Personal attention to donors and connecting with prospective donors in person or on the phone has been the key.
FS: Any major difficulties or setbacks you've faced along the way?
JH: Like so many nonprofits, the Ed Fund really struggled during the depths of the recession in 2008-2009. We had to pull out all the stops to face that challenge. Surviving the recession made us stronger, and it has informed our donor outreach and communications because our supporters are ready to hear positive news and help the Ed Fund grow.
Another fundraising difficulty is the obvious resource disparity between the gun violence prevention movement and the industry-funded gun lobby. We have our work cut out for us, so we always strive to effectively communicate how we leverage the resources we do have and make people feel confident in investing in our work.