FS: How does being a region-specific organization affect fundraising?
MS: God’s Love is unique. We are the only provider of nutritious and delicious meals that are tailored to people with illnesses; meals are tailored, for instance, to accommodate the special needs of people undergoing chemotherapy. We started out as an HIV/AIDS service organization and, four years ago, we expanded our mission to include people with all serious illnesses including breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This enables us to seek disease-specific niche funding. That’s how we expand our prospect pool and funding opportunities.
FS: What do you see as the key to keeping donors loyal to your organization for years?
MS: We steward them very carefully, and I think many of our strongest donors are also our volunteers. We have a 24-to-1 ratio of volunteers to staff and many of our volunteers — who work in our kitchen, cutting and chopping vegetables, or going on deliveries with our van drivers — see how the money that’s raised is used and they see the good that it’s doing. They see the pure, direct service, and I think that’s one of the reasons that there’s an enormous loyalty among our volunteers, and those volunteers translate into donors.
I think what’s most surprising is that many of our early donors who were interested in the HIV/AIDS crisis have stayed with us as we’ve transitioned to provide services to people with other illnesses. This is a very hands-on organization where many of our donors are our core volunteers, as well, and they like tangible involvement.