Leading the Charge
Truth be told, it’s tough to get Melia to talk specifically about fundraising because WWP has managed to avoid the kind of departmental siloing that plagues many nonprofit organizations.
“The people in fundraising here are part of the mission,” Melia explains. “Their part of the mission is to raise the dollars. They see that they are hand in hand with the program people. There’s not really a major separation between our program folks and our fundraising folks.”
But when he does talk, the numbers are impressive. According to Melia, at a time when philanthropic giving across the board is slumping, WWP is doing just fine. In FY 2007, for example, the organization was looking for a 10 percent increase in donated dollars over the previous year, and, he says, it already is seeing a 30 percent increase.
In dollar terms, WWP has raised $10.6 million so far this fiscal year, which is only about three-quarters over.
Online, Melia says, WWP has raised at least $500,000 a year since its inception and is on track to raise more than $2 million online in 2008. Even without a dedicated major-gifts program as yet, it has secured individual online gifts as high as $25,000.
The organization also has seen a lot of success with the Combined Federal Campaign, which last year brought in more than $700,000 in pledges and is on track to bring in between $1.7 million and $2 million in 2008, Melia says.
Strategy specifics aside, Melia attributes his organization’s success to passion, which produces results … which produce donor loyalty … which produces donor dollars. It’s a fairly simple, but alarmingly evasive, equation.
“There are no smoke and mirrors at WWP. You can go there any day of the week and see veterans’ lives changing. And we’re very proud of that,” he says. “You come in to us on a Monday, and we’ll tell you about something that happened the week before that changed somebody’s life. There’s something powerful about that.
Related story: Tips From John Melia, Wounded Warrior Project