Well Suited for Succes
Debbie Kellogg is corporate relations director for Dress for Success, a nonprofit organization that responds to communities’ needs by providing programs that help economically disadvantaged women acquire jobs, retain their positions and succeed in the workplace.
Mission: “The mission of Dress for Success is to advance low-income women’s economic and social development and to encourage self-sufficiency through career development and employment retention … Dress for Success is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income women make tailored transitions into the workforce. Each Dress for Success client receives one suit when she has a job interview and a second suit when she gets the job.”
FundRaising Success: What are the primary ways your organization receives funding?
Debbie Kellogg: “There are several ways. One is through corporate sponsorships, grantwriting,special events that we host and events that our sponsors host, and then last is individual donations.”
FS: What are your methods for soliciting corporate funding?
DK: “In one respect, we’re pretty fortunate that we get a lot of phone calls and inquiries. We also try to seek out partners that have a like mission to ours — that there is some synergy between the corporate culture of the corporation and what Dress for Success is about. We’ve been really fortunate to build relationships. Many sponsors similar to Chantelle and Dress Barn started out as in-kind donors donating product to our programs. Dress Barn started off donating a couple hundred suits, and now they’re our official drop-off center for the Send One Suit campaign, which is in March, where we encourage consumers to go to their closets and donate one suit for a woman in need. They underwrite that whole program and do all the promotion for us. Over 800 stores throughout the United States collect the clothes for us. So, these are relationships that we’ve built over time — some we’ve gone actively seeking; others have approached us. But for the most part, they’re relationships that started out small and built over time.”
FS: What advice can you give nonprofits that rely primarily on corporate funding and sponsorship?
DK: “I think you’ve got to look at what the mission of the company is, and what are the core values of the company, and do they resonate with your mission? Is there synergy there? I seek to have a three-way win: a win for the corporation, a win for the organization, but also a win for the women that we’re serving. Those are really important. I always ask what are [the corporation’s] expectations for partnering with us, and that’s usually a good indicator of how they’re approaching a partnership with a nonprofit. [Also] I return every phone call. I will talk to everybody. I will try to see if there is an opportunity, no matter how small it is, to see if it makes sense for us to partner. … I would say, explore every opportunity. You never know who’s on the other end of the phone. Being responsive and flexible and professional, I think, is a reputation we have at Dress for Success, and it’s one that I’m proud of in working with corporate America.”