God’s Love We Deliver is a New York City-based organization that delivers free meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses. It also provides illness-specific nutrition education and counseling to clients, families, care providers and other service organizations, and it offers volunteer opportunities preparing and delivering meals.
Eighty percent of the organization’s annual budget comes from contributions. Here, Chief Development Officer Mady Schuman talks about GLWD’s relationship with corporations, the challenge of being a local organization seeking grants and the key to growing donors with a lifetime commitment to the organization.
FundRaising Success: Where do you get most of your contributions?
Mady Schuman: Surprisingly, it’s quite evenly divided among individual donors, events, and corporate and foundation grants. Actually, when I review our goals for each major funding arena — our individual and major gifts, foundation and corporate grantsmanship, and special events — the annual goals for each area are within $100,000 of each other. We also have a significant direct-mail program; we use direct mail to help inform our broad base [of] constituents about the organization and new programs and projects.
Gods’ Love We Deliver is a very lean organization — all of the funds raised go directly to preparing and delivering meals. That’s pure direct service, and it’s what every funder likes to hear. It’s one of the reasons, I believe, we have such amazing donor loyalty. Many of our supporters have been with us for 20 years.
FS: Tell us about your relationships with corporations.
MS: We steward our corporate relationships in two distinct ways: between corporations who make outright gifts to support programs or projects through their grants program and those who support us through sponsorship of events like our annual Race to Deliver in Central Park. We launched a 20th anniversary corporate-partnership program this year, enabling members of the corporate community to support us at one of several significant levels. Partnership provides terrific public relations and marketing opportunities for these corporations, giving them visibility and participation in each of our high-profile special events throughout our 20th anniversary celebration year — partnership gives “global” involvement and participation.
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.