Editor's Note Just So You Know
So many of us struggle through our work days without ever knowing if what we do makes a difference. For nonprofit fundraisers, it’s pretty clear. If donations are healthy and donors are happy, then missions are being fulfilled and you can see the results of your hard work reflected in the number of people sheltered and fed, animals rescued, legislations enacted, symphonies performed, patients educated, diseases cured, etc.
I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say that your funding stream is more than just money that flows in from some nebulous source “out there.” It’s the result of having touched thousands of people — one at a time. They write their $10 or $100 checks … they take part in a fundraising walk … they drink their coffee from mugs with your organization’s logo — all because you’ve touched them.
You’ll most likely never meet the majority of the people who support your organization, but one person you probably have “met” is Kyle Paxman. She’s the Vermont woman who turned her own personal heartache into a fundraising brainstorm.
After calling off her wedding, Paxman was in a quandary about what to do about those elements of the reception that she already had paid for — the room, the food, drinks, etc. She decided to invite 125 women to enjoy the party and, she hoped, write fat checks to support two charities. One was the nearby Vermont Children’s Aid Society, but she couldn’t decide on the other. Then Paxman found her answer in a televised spot for CARE USA that highlighted the ability of women to create lasting change in their communities.
The event raised more than $20,000, and it underscored the importance of strong messaging that touches people in ways to which they can relate. Paxman might not have been able to connect with the video’s far-off images of women walking across a blustery desert, but when it focused individually on four of those women, each of whom looked dead into the camera and said, “I am powerful,” Paxman felt, well, empowered.
“It was the most powerful commercial I’ve ever seen,” she is quoted as saying on the CARE USA Web site.
Aside from the money, her effort also raised awareness of CARE USA when it drew national media attention. Who knows how many other women were empowered by one woman who was empowered by CARE’s message about, appropriately, empowering women?
It’s a provocative case study about the importance of creating campaigns that resonate. It’s also a wonderful testament to the importance of the work that you do.