Last Look: Gerry Brisson, vice president for development, Gleaners
Most importantly, however, is that even in “purely fundraising” efforts, the greatest joy has little to do with the “funds” and everything to do with getting to know people and experiencing those relationships.
FS Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
GB: Probably the most important fundraising success in the last two years has been with our board of directors. One hundred percent of them are giving. They have more than doubled their personal giving. And many of them are reaching out in new ways to ask others to join our work. They have also approved the funding needed for our rapid expansion effort so that we can meet the emergency food demands of our community. Solid support at the center, in my experience, is the key to all other fundraising success.
FS Any major difficulties or setbacks you’ve faced along the way? Things you would do differently with your fundraising?
GB: We’ve not been perfect, but I wouldn’t say we’ve had any major setbacks. Still, there’s always ways to improve and we are always doing some things differently. Our messages could be clearer and more powerful, the care and nurturing of our donors could be better, and our outreach to volunteers, in particular, could be greatly improved.
FS What advice would you give to organizations similar to yours, in size and annual operating budget?
GB: My advice is to make sure that your development program supports your mission and core business. On this note, the development department should be a great source of both challenge and relief to program and operations staff. Make sure your organization is committed to success and, when it is, be bold, clear and sincere in everything you do. The money will follow.
FS Any additional thoughts?
GB: At a time when competition in our field offers greater opportunities than ever before, we owe it to our communities to be more responsible than we, as a profession, are today. We need to find a way to stay longer with a single [organization] to increase our effectiveness and decrease the monumental costs of fundraising.