Fundraising Connection: Fundraising Lessons From HONY
"I have something to admit to all of you. Before all of this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I felt like typing my resignation."
Those are the words of Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school situated in one of the toughest communities of Brooklyn, New York.
The "all this" that happened?
On Jan. 19, "Humans of New York" (HONY) photographer Brandon Stanton shot a picture of 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet, a student at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Stanton asked the teen who the most influential person in his life was.
"My principal, Ms. Lopez," Vidal responded. "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each of us that we matter."
After that photo went viral (more than 1 million shares), Stanton continued to chronicle life inside the walls of Mott Hall Bridges Academy. He learned that Lopez was in the middle of raising money to send her students on a trip to Harvard. You see, she knew having dreams could be hard if you didn't have a picture in your mind … and she wanted college (and not just any college) to be at the forefront of her students' minds. Lopez wanted to send the message to these kids that, yes, they could not only create their dreams, but they could make those dreams happen in a big way. Additionally, most of her students had never had an opportunity to leave New York. So then Stanton started an Indiegogo campaign that raised more than $1 million (in less than a week) for the trip and a scholarship fund named after Vidal.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.