An Interview With Earl Martin Phalen, CEO, Reach Out and Read
FS: Do you foresee any big changes in the way you reach potential donors and other supporters in the near future?
EP: [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg recently agreed to donate $100 million to improve Newark, N.J., schools, and this gift will indeed make a significant difference in Newark’s school district and many of New Jersey’s children. What Reach Out and Read needs is this type of large-scale investment. With $100 million, Reach Out and Read could serve 10 million children and ensure that they arrive at school on grade level prepared to excel, obliterating the need for many of the remedial programs that exist in schools today. What we need is an investor who wants to change the future of education in the United States.
FS: How would you describe your fundraising philosophy?
EP: A diverse portfolio is the core of Reach Out and Read’s fundraising philosophy. Our development team aggressively pursues large corporations, foundations and individuals dedicated to improving children’s health and education.
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?
EP: It is crucial for nonprofit organizations to recognize their wide base of support as a critical component of a healthy organization. Reach Out and Read engages in a variety of social-media and social-networking platforms to grow our support base. Using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, Reach Out and Read searches for potential partners and interacts with current supporters by asking questions, highlighting news, and starting up discussions about who we are and what we do.
FS: Can you describe a recent successful fundraising effort?
EP: Reach Out and Read officially launched a three-year project to strengthen and expand our programming for children and families in Michigan, Mississippi and New Mexico. This initiative, which is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will enable Reach Out and Read to serve an additional 30,000 children and families.