An Interview With Meryl Sheriden, Chief Development Officer, Horizons for Homeless Children
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
MS: Yes. As an agency, Horizons for Homeless Children is driven to engage even further in online means of fundraising. Although we have established a presence on social-networking sites and send e-news using online tools, we are focused on investigating new and innovative ways of engaging supporters as we move forward.
We have also started to incorporate new activities into our strategic plans to reach out to and engage younger supporters. We have a new effort in place, called the Young Professionals Group, and this group continues to grow each day. It consists of new and existing supporters, 40 years and younger, who are actively raising funds and spreading awareness of the work of Horizons for Homeless Children through networking events, online communication and social activities. This program will continue to be a major focus of our fundraising strategy.
Donor retention remains a challenge at Horizons for Homeless Children, and we are aggressively seeking out new options to bridge the gap between one-time and repeat giving. We anticipate changes in current methods in that our focus will shift to more fully engaging one-time donors in our work and maintaining closer relationships with them in the cycle of involvement and investment. This will see a change in staff structure, and our hope is that over time, our levels of donor retention will grow.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
MS: Horizons for Homeless Children has a fundraising philosophy that is effective and efficient. The mission drives us forward and in doing so, fundraising efforts are heavily goal-oriented. There is a commitment to remaining fiscally responsible, and the loyalty of our donors stands testament to that. There is a level of transparency at every level in the organization as we constantly evaluate and assess our performance and this helps donors feel confident in our programs and practices.