Exclusive Interview: Giselle Holloway, International Rescue Committee
(Click to see the IRC’s “Rescue Lives in Haiti: How to Help” page.)
You also could include this information in your direct-mail newsletters, appeals and acknowledgments.
FS: What challenges do fundraisers face in disaster-relief efforts? How do you overcome them?
GH: One of the challenges is getting regular, timely reporting from the field. Donors want to know exactly what you are doing on the ground, and sometimes getting that information is difficult because of logistic and technological problems. Other challenges include not having a strong enough brand to get enough attention for your cause, and not having a good infrastructure for processing and acknowledging large volumes of gifts quickly. You can overcome these challenges by making smart investments in technology, systems, people, training and marketing so that when an emergency strikes, you’ll be able to raise funds effectively and efficiently.
FS: What do you learn about yourself and the people who support you in a time of crisis such as this?
GH: For our staff, we have seen that, in crisis situations, the silos tend to break down, and we become more focused because we don’t have time to get distracted or overthink things. We rally together toward a common purpose — saving lives — which unleashes an enormous amount of energy, drive, passion and creativity. Consequently, our donors respond in extraordinary ways through their generosity, their caring and their commitment to help make the world better place.
At the IRC, we have seen that even in the worst of crises, the best of humanity rises. (Our Refugee Journeys video demonstrates that.)
FS: Any other thoughts?
GH: Remember that a person doesn’t truly become a donor until they make their second gift. When donors join your organization through an emergency, you need to start cultivating them immediately so you can retain them after the crisis is over. Send them an e-mail or letter that thanks them for their support, welcomes them to your organization and educates them about your broader mission. You also might want to make welcome phone calls to new donors at higher giving levels or try to convert them to monthly giving. And don’t forget to send all your new donors updates on a regular basis that show how their gift is making a difference.