Closing the Gap(s)
Brinkmann says NTFB is changing to cope with the new realities.
"People are OK with change when it's communicated that the change is for the good," she says. "We encourage team members who have new fundraising ideas to go ahead and pursue them — to at least give them a good try."
Brinkmann describes Pruitt as "down-to-earth, courageous and creative," and as the sort of leader who embraces change.
Pruitt notes the critical role that Brinkmann played in Close the Gap: "[She] was able to craft the words that made the message compelling to donors. It takes someone fearless to conduct a campaign that results in a 120 percent growth in fundraising. Year after year, the growth of Close the Gap was double-digit. There was a significant gift given at the end of each year. At the end of the first year, we received a $1 million unsolicited gift."
Brinkmann says that generating enthusiasm for a campaign depends on one's storytelling ability — in other words, on effectively conveying to donors, fellow employees and volunteers the reality of hunger in North Texas and the strategies through which NTFB can address this reality. She says her effectiveness as a team leader is directly related to the fact that she is a good storyteller.
"I like to say I'm in the friend-raising business as well as the fundraising business," she says. "I like to create friends for the food bank. In order to do this, I have to tell the story of what we do in a compelling way. Then people will step up to help."
But it's never easy. Any endeavor that depends on altruism poses special challenges and requires special talents.
"We have to maintain a constant drumbeat in order to build the brand," she says. "We're competing with an individual's desire to go play golf or something. We have to communicate to volunteers that the mission of our campaign is worth driving across town to our warehouses. We're not selling a product; we're selling an experience that will make them feel [good]."