Interview With Kenneth Grunke, Director of Individual and Major Giving, Pillars
Pillars is the new name representing the integration of two well-established Chicago-area mental health/social services providers: Community Care Options, established in 1928, and Pillars Community Services, established in 1968. It serves more than 10,000 individuals in 38 communities.
Here, FundRaising Success talks with Pillars director of individual and major giving, Kenneth Grunke.
FundRaising Success: How does Pillars fund its mission?
Kenneth Grunke: “[We fund our mission] through various local, school district, state, county and federal governmental agency contracts; contributions from individuals and organizations; special events; United Way agencies; and insurance/client fees.”
FS: What are the biggest challenges Pillars faces as far as fundraising is concerned?
KG: “One of the biggest challenges we are facing as an organization is effectively reaching out to new audiences. For quite some time, Pillars has been able to approach, very comfortably, a general donor base effectively. But now, as more baby boomers are aging and more of Generation Y becomes more socially active and philanthropic at an earlier age, we’ve had to redesign our strategies to realize that we are working with very different and distinct groups.
Interestingly enough, similar to the epidemic that we are facing with the disappearance of the middle-class system, we are realizing that there is no longer a one-size-fits-all model to fundraising that you can simply tweak. Instead, we are developing totally different strategies. We are combining an interesting hybrid of online cultivation with more face-to-face approaches. We are also listening to our donors more in terms of their preference in communication, receiving information and getting involved with our organization.”
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
KG: “Definitely! Aside from what I mentioned in the previous question, the other part of this is that I am seeing many grade- and middle-school students who are becoming more active, in fundraising as well as being asked to address societal social issues in the classroom. We’ve already seen younger students approaching us and asking to fundraise on our behalf or ask to donate a portion of their proceeds to our organization. They’re getting involved at such an early age, and we need to start recognizing that more and how to connect with them.