A Story of the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Model of 2021
Megan Rouse moved into a gated community in North Carolina late last year. This community, Pinehurst National, has a real gate and is really serious about the whole “no solicitation” thing. COVID-19 hit, and the first thing Megan did, due to her background as a professional fundraising consultant for Turnkey? She started soliciting.
Rouse decided that she needed to contribute to society’s well-being in some way. In trying to figure out how, she came up with an idea that, like all great fundraising, required soliciting. Rouse said, “Solicitation is a big thing in Pinehurst and has a strong NO around it. Technically I was soliciting, but because I am a neighbor, it wasn’t perceived that way.” Happily, the neighborhood association gave its blessing to the endeavor.
Her idea: Ask neighbors for contributions to support the local Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills, as the organization is feeding kids who are dependent on schools for meals. Her hook was that she would put out luminaria bags on one specific night to honor the contributions, and she called her effort “Light Up National.” Later, the campaign was renamed “Light Up Moore County” as the idea took root. There is much psychology around her event design and the ask, and why she positioned it the way she did.
Otis spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising” and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has degrees in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and The University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina also regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.