‘You Can Make a Difference’
We spoke with Amanda Aronoff, director of development and public relations for Project H.O.M.E. and one of FundRaising Success’ 2006 Top Women in Fundraising, about the unique challenges of raising money for homelessness-alleviation efforts, and how her organization is overcoming those challenges.
FundRaising Success: What should homeless support programs keep in mind when trying to garner support for their causes?
Amanda Aronoff: It is absolutely critical that the prospective donor understands that homelessness is a solvable problem — given proper resources and political goodwill. Project H.O.M.E. unconditionally believes this is true.
It is equally important to be able to communicate how even one person can make a difference (whether it’s through donations of time, talent or resources). Communicating these messages, as well as meaningful outcomes and accomplishments, is an integral part of our outreach and fundraising efforts. Donors need to know that their “investment” can make a meaningful difference in the lives of real people. We find that it is important to tie homelessness to the wellness of the larger community because some people feel distant from the issue.
We have found that our best advocates — from a fundraising or public-policy perspective — are our constituents. The voice of a formerly homeless person is the most powerful and authentic means for communicating your mission, and it simultaneously works to break down stereotypes and bring a human face to the issue of homelessness.
FS: What are the most effective ways to encourage donations to your cause?
AA: Project H.O.M.E. undertakes all of its work — including fundraising — in a spirit of building relationships and community. To that end, we believe that it is critical to connect donors (actual and prospective) with the real people impacted by their gifts. We work hard to keep them actively involved and advised of various events and real success stories.