To the Editor:
I enjoyed “Don’t Box Me In” (February 2006), but read with interest that the brown-bag appeal was “pioneered” by City Harvest in the mid-1990s. In about 1989, I used a brown-bag mailing to invite donors to take their lunch to work and donate what they would have paid for a day’s lunch, or a week’s worth, or the cost of taking the whole office gang out. This
appeal benefitted people with developmental disabilities, served by The Arc of Multnomah County in Portland, Ore., for 10 years running. Our donors knew when to expect the appeal and, of course, it was immediately recognizable to them. I’m not certain that ours was even the first, but it was certainly earlier than that started by City Harvest in the mid-1990s.
I guess there really isn’t anything truly unique in the world of fundraising, but sharing ideas can benefit everyone served through the world of nonprofits.
— Judith Kearney,
director of development,
The ASME Foundation
To the Editor:
Your article “Teens No Strangers to Volunteerism” (Briefings, February 2006) struck a cord with me. As the former administrator of a children’s psychiatric hospital (Devereux Florida, Viera Campus), I have some experience with teen volunteerism.
My hospitalized children had an opportunity to support the local General Federation of Women’s Clubs with their initiative to raise money for Operation Smile, which oversees medical/surgical intervention for children who are severely disfigured and require extensive facial surgery.
About 45 of my 150 children and adolescent population rose to the occasion. They devised three fundraisers for my self-contained campus including a car wash, bake sale and walk-a-thon [called] “Walking a Mile for a Smile!” Additionally, staff conducted a bake sale of their own.
During the month in which these fundraisers occurred, an interesting dynamic was revealed. Not only did the children gravitate to this work, they exceeded everyone’s expectations. Soliciting from no one other than the 250 staff of the facility, these emotionally impaired and some developmentally disabled children raised $800!
As a thank you to the children, we invited them to an award
ceremony where the amount was unveiled to the women’s club (whose members still cannot fathom how this occurred). A local church provided a handmade quilt to each child who participated.
The children continue to make fabric dolls and teddy bears for the children who await future surgery. Amazing when you consider how disadvantaged and needy this population is … yet they feel they are blessed and lucky in comparison to the children on whose behalf they volunteered. Cost of fundraisers: minimal. Rewards reaped by children here and overseas: priceless!
— Patricia S. Hurst,
assistant director of development,
Does your organization use the phone as a fundraising tool? What are the important lessons you’ve learned as a result? — (FS Advisor, Jan. 17)
Using the telephone to raise money is a very effective, cost-efficient tool. I’ve found the most success when using volunteers and having them telephone lapsed donors to ask for their renewed support. As a rule of thumb, one-third of lapsed members will contribute again if called. Another one-third will say “no,” and another one-third will consider a gift. Sending out a pledge reminder immediately after the telethon is essential. Having a training session and using a script helps make volunteers more comfortable when making the calls. If you do not have a bank of phones in which to make the calls, consider asking a local corporation if you could hold the telethon at their location.
— John Carno, CFRE,
vice president for development,
New Jersey Audubon Society, Bernardsville, NJ