Q&A with Kerri Schlottman
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers was founded in 1994 to administer the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which have an impressive legacy and a noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford, Sylvia Plath and Joyce Carol Oates. The Scholastic Awards began as a small writing contest with a $5 prize and six winning applicants in 1923.
Today, the Alliance works with nearly 100 regional affiliates across the country to promote the creative development of teens in grades 7 through 12 by connecting them with opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and college and pre-college scholarships. To date, the awards have encouraged more than 13 million students, recognized more than 9 million young artists and writers, and made available more than $25 million in awards and scholarships.
Here, we talk with Director of External Relations Kerri Schlottman about the organization, and its fundraising strategies and techniques.
FundRaising Success: How do you fund your mission?
Kerri Schlottman: We have a two-tiered membership program that includes exclusive levels for past Scholastic Award winners and for non-Award winners, a corporate sponsorship program, and a rigorous funding plan geared toward foundations and federal and state agencies.
Our fundraising strategy is quite simple: volume outreaching to as many potential support sources as possible to make our organization a common name among the funding community.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
KS: Given the uncertain economic climate, this is one of the most challenging fundraising times for all nonprofit organizations. It’s exceptionally difficult to attract new support as funders are increasingly cautious about developing new relationships and taking any risks with investments. To address these obstacles, we are focusing much of our energy on increasing the amount of support from those who have an established record of giving to the organization across the spectrum of individuals, corporations and foundations.