An Interview With Jennifer Marrapese, Executive Director, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
FS: How do you overcome these challenges?
JM: We are working hard to become a “must join” and “must support” organization, and to make sure our donors understand the benefits that come from their contributions. We need to make clearer that supporting NESEA is an investment — an investment in our donors’ professional networks and careers. We’re trying to help them view this relationship as a collaboration, an exchange of energy. We’re capturing the stories of our members and donors who, while attending our workshops and conferences, exchange ideas and have career-changing “Aha! moments,” and trying to find ways to replicate those “Aha! moments” so that NESEA is the organization they think of when they think of sustainable energy solutions.
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
JM: NESEA is working to integrate and use social media in our fundraising efforts. We see that being more proactive in getting the NESEA message out will strengthen our visibility and demonstrate to donors our commitment to sustainable energy solutions and our presence at the cutting edge of these solutions.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
JM: It is all about relationships! It is about striking a chord and finding a match in core values and objectives. The key is to develop and maintain rapports in mutually respectful and beneficial ways. Ask donors and sponsors what exchanges they value in investing in an organization [and] in what ways would they like to support, be appreciated and kept abreast of the organization.
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?
JM: Yes. NESEA distributes a general e-newsletter twice per month to members and donors and other topical e-mail blasts intermittently based on our program schedule. We post news updates, articles and interesting links several times per week on Facebook and Twitter. We have a blog where staff and members can post their thoughts, articles and resources. NESEA also maintains accounts and profiles with other social-media networks such as LinkedIn, YourOliveBranch.org, Idealist.org, Changemakers.org and GreatNonprofits.org.