Meet Our Award Winners: Miyoko Brunner
In our February issue, Fundraising Success named the winners of our 2010 Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards. In this recurring "Meet Our Award Winners" series in the Advisor, you will have an opportunity to learn more about these distinguished nonprofit professionals and their unique perspectives on fundraising. Here, meet Miyoko Brunner, who was named one of this year's Rising Stars.
WITNESS (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Organization's mission: WITNESS (www.witness.org) uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.
Annual operating budget: Approximately 4 Million
How much raised annually: Approximately 3.7 Million
Role models: My most significant fundraising role model is Elizabeth Dickinson. She has been my manager, mentor and friend. She's a smart, strong, hardworking and compassionate working mother and fundraiser. She trusted me with opportunities and guided me when I needed help. I love her passion, eloquence and strength. She has been and will continue to be an inspiring role model and a close friend.
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: My junior year at Carleton College, I had a fundraising internship with a small community service organization, the Hough Foundation. I spent several months helping put together a major fundraising event. I discovered that not only did I enjoy working with an amazing organization, but I had found a job that perfectly complemented my strengths as a social person. I've always been a person who organizes events in my own friendship groups. After seeing firsthand how an organization like the Hough Foundation affected the lives of the families within the community, I was hooked.
Greatest fundraising challenges: Myself. It's easy to burn out in fundraising. There's always more than you can do. Sometimes I overcommit myself to projects and try to take on too much. Fortunately, I work with a great team of people who look after each other on a personal level and willingly pitch in to help on a workload basis. The present economic environment is a significant challenge, but one of the good aspects of it is that it forces all of us to think about new and different things we can do.
Keys to success (in life): Caring about people and building relationships are undeniably important. But I think learning and experiencing new things are critical to keeping life interesting. And I think that's true in both your personal life and your professional life. There is so much to discover and learn with all the advances in technology; and information is more accessible, extensive and transparent than ever before. WITNESS is a global organization, so I have learned much about different cultures and people around the world. Information and knowledge are really powerful when combined with a passion to make the world a better place.
Keys to success (in fundraising): I appreciate every single donor. People contribute because they want to make a difference, and the fact that they choose a particular organization is a testament to its mission, work and team. Donors are not obligated to give; they choose to give. And when they give, they are really joining in the organization's efforts. So when I communicate with WITNESS' donors, I treat them as part of the team. I listen to their thoughts, both the positive and the negative; I acknowledge their commitment to the cause, and I celebrate the impact that together we are able to generate.
Fundraising accomplishment of which you are most proud: Last year, I helped organize a Spring Fundraising Campaign centered on ending violence against women all over the world. With the efforts of the entire WITNESS organization, the WITNESS board, our matching donors and champions of WITNESS, we raised over $100,000 from nearly 350 individuals all over the world. The campaign utilized online technology, a variety of social network sites and the production of my first-ever fundraising video. I worked extremely hard on this project and not only did I learn a lot, but it surpassed expectations in raising support for WITNESS.
How would your co-workers describe you: Organized, dedicated, responsible and driven by coffee.
Greatest lesson ever learned: Never underestimate your ability to make a difference. At WITNESS, I have seen members of our own organization and our partners shine a light on human rights abuses all over the world. What is most inspiring is that we can see a resulting change. The change can be modest or substantial, but it continues to give us confidence that people are capable of creating change. It takes patience, determination and spirit, but change is always possible.