An Interview With Meryl Sheriden, Chief Development Officer, Horizons for Homeless Children
FS: How do you reach out to supporters and potential supporters in ways other than purely fundraising? Are you engaged with social media and social networking?
MS: Horizons for Homeless Children reaches out to supporters and potential supporters in many ways other than fundraising. There are several ways in which current and potential supporters can get involved. From volunteerism to in-kind giving, community service to external events and advocacy, there is a fit for everyone, depending on their level of commitment. We also have a presence on Facebook and each day the number of "fans" grows exponentially. We showcase video material on YouTube, and we are also about to launch a Horizons for Homeless Children Twitter page. We are more and more invested in online communications and currently send the majority of news updates through an online Web tool called Constant Contact to our donors, volunteers and potential supporters.
FS: Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
MS: We recently completed a five-year campaign that was launched before the economic downturn and completed in FY10. The purpose of the campaign was to fund the statewide expansion of our programs and to open a third direct-service Community Children's Center to accommodate a growing list of children waiting for spaces in our other two sites. The financial goal for the campaign was $25 million, and we exceeded our goal by $7 million.
We are also very proud of our newest endeavor, the Young Professionals Group. In May 2010, the Horizons for Homeless Children Young Professionals Group hosted its first 5K, entitled the "Route for Kids 5K, a run/walk to benefit homeless children." Over $25,000 was raised, and almost 300 people participated — many of whom are new donors and very energized about the work of Horizons for Homeless Children. The event had a small number of corporate and in-kind sponsors, and we anticipate growing as we move forward. The event was one of the year's highlights at Horizons for Homeless Children!