Figuring out what makes people give to a cause is a challenge for every fundraiser. Alyson Landers, Project Manager of Major Gifts for the Hudson River Museum in New York, joined Accidental Fundraiser to discuss her journey to becoming a fundraising professional.
As a former board member herself, she shared her unique perspective of engaging, educating and enabling members of the board of directors. Because without significant buy-in – financial and otherwise – fundraisers can struggle to launch and grow their initiatives. Alyson’s bonus episode will teach you how to get support from your board and excel in your initiatives.
- Boards and individual board members have a unique responsibility to understand their organization’s fundraising goals and strategy.
- Technology can be a great resource for fundraising teams. Before investing in a new tool, understand if it fits your team and how they’ll use it.
- The easiest way for fundraisers to level up is to network with others in the space.
Bonus Episode Transcript
Alyson Landers: I think an educated board member. So valuable, even more valuable than perhaps your high net worth individual who sits on your board, if that high net worth individual sitting on your board does not understand the ins and outs of your organization and the ins and outs of what it means to be a good board member.
I think it behooves the organization to educate that board member
Kimberly: the most difficult aspect of your fundraising career. Go ahead. Think about it. If you said figuring out how to make people give you agree with the majority of us, we know it’s not easy for people to part with their harder money, but what makes people resonate with your cause? What makes donors ultimately give their money to your mission?
What’s behind all of that. I’m Kimberly O’Donnell and this is Accidental fundraiser, a show from Network for Good. That shares radically authentic stories from the trenches. Accidental Fundraiser for the New York-based Hudson River Museum, Alyson Landers joined the podcast to share her perspective on aligning her fundraising initiatives with her board strategy and goals, because without significant buy-in financial or otherwise from your highest level support.
You’re going to struggle to launch and grow your projects. Alison will teach you how to get support from your board and Excel and fundraising. Alison, thank you for joining today. We’re so glad to have you on the accidental fundraiser podcast. One of the reasons why I’m excited to chat with you is because you have quite an accidental falling into world of fundraising.
Can you share a little bit about your.
Alyson Landers: I want to meet the person. Who’s not an accidental fundraiser, frankly. So when you find that person, let me know, I am in my early fifties and went to college back in the Soviet union era day. So I was a Russian and linguistics major out of Georgetown university and thought that I was going to save the world diplomatically or some other sort of way, bridging the gap between the Soviet union.
If you remember your history of the Soviet union fell and for a variety of reasons, I really never ended up in that area. And for a several years, bumped around and various sort of liberal artsy kind of gigs and got married in the early nineties and quit my financial services job to go to grad school at Columbia university for deaf education, which was in line with my linguistics degree.
And then fast forward, I have a couple of children and I don’t end up finishing that deaf ed degree. And instead. Raising these four children who were born within six years of each other. So I had a very active young household and ultimately I ended up putting the children in a Montessori school, which had been around for probably 15 years at that point, but did not have any sort of organized fundraising effort, organized development office, and a friend of mine ended up being the head.
At school and asked me if I would consider coming on as the development director, which essentially was the founding development director, while it sounds daunting, it was really quite a blessing. There was only about 110 families in the school. So it was a small pond in which to stick my toe. But more importantly, my head of school was more than willing to send me to professional development, places, opportunities, conferences.
To get me up to speed and the beauty of a school environment, certainly for me in those early days, was that your summers were off. So you had a little bit of time to get your feet on. I had a little bit of time to get my feet under me and figure out what it meant to be a development officer, what it meant to run an annual campaign and how to put what I had learned.
At these conferences and from talking to other professionals into practice, I truly was an accidental fundraiser. I had no intention of ever doing this. I was doing a favor for a friend and I ended up going from zero to development director. It’s a path that nobody takes. In retrospect, what I think appealed to me most was that job had a lot of chief of staff activity around it, supporting my friend to the head, but it played to my.
And figuring out what made people tick about what made people give. And I had the. To figure that out because I wasn’t stepping into a shop. It was already active. I could take the time to figure out how to write the best annual fund letter because there had never been an annual fund letter. So I was not operating on a calendar that had been set into place already.
So for a variety of reasons, that was really a wonderful opportunity, did that for several years. And then the kids got older and I think it’s true that the. My kids got the more they needed me. And so I retired from that job. What I ended up finding though, ultimately, was that my experience on that side of the development or the fundraising table, put me in really good stead to be a community volunteer for organizing.
And so I would say for the next, I’d have to look at my resume, but for the next, I don’t know, decade or more, I really worked as a community volunteer, mostly serving on secondary school boards that my kids happen to go to. And so that was a whole other sort of arrow in my quiver because I had never sat on the boardroom side of the.
But I had worked with board members. And so I knew from a development perspective, what I wanted the perfect board member to be. And from a board member perspective, I knew what I hoped I would find in a development director relationship that for the next 10 years kept me quite busy. I will toot my own horn and say I was perfect board member for all of these advancement people, because I knew how the sausage was made.
I was pretty clear that I knew how the sausage was made. I wasn’t being coy and I was more than willing to jump in and help. I was the dream volunteer for that. Advancement people. And I liked it very much. It also, again, provided me the opportunity to learn from people who had been doing it for a long time.
We were raising our family in Princeton, New Jersey. So I was on secondary school boards with people who were often wildly successful, certainly more successful, bigger donors than I was sitting around the table. And so I was able to watch and learn from the relationships that my fellow board members were having with advancement directors.
And I was also learning. What it means to solicit major gifts. And I think in the Princeton New Jersey area, that’s significant, there is a substantial wealth community down there. And so the major gift effort was really interesting to watch and learn from. Additionally, Princeton university is down there, which is a major fundraising machine.
I don’t know that there’s one equal in this country probably. Again, to bump into people who say, oh, I work at Princeton, I’m in the alumni relations office and you’re having a cocktail with them at a kid’s birthday party kind of thing. So it was a really interesting opportunity, a good place for me to learn.
And then one of the more interesting things that happened was I was tapped to be a board member for a healthcare system foundation. And it took me probably a good three or four months to understand what actually the difference was between serving on the health care. Board and serving on the foundation board.
And so understanding the differences, understanding what the foundation’s role was in supporting the hospital was really something new because I had been in schools before this and after the first year or two serving on that board, the decision was made to build a replacement hospital for Princeton, the Princeton area.
And so we built a hospital for the ground. We fundraise for it. It used no government money. It was completely community-based fundraising and money as well. I think overall the total of the build was $468 million and we raised 150 million in the community. So it was quite a massive fundraising effort.
And again, another opportunity for me to learn on the job to solicit. Gifts to solicit high wealth individuals in particular to ask for a six-figure gift to learn what it takes the background of getting to that point. Why would Mr and Mrs. Smith with three kids living in Hopewell, New Jersey, want to give to a hospital and what’s going to touch them and what are the different ways we can, what are the avenues in the, we can do that.
And how do we keep renewing our donors when everyone’s fatigued from being asked? This was all really great tactics and really great best practices that I was learning on the job. The kids grow up, I’m serving on these boards and the kids go to college. And my husband and I have made the decision to leave Princeton, an empty nest back in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is where we started a zillion years ago.
And just before that, I had looked into. Figuring out some way to turn my almost all volunteer, resume and interesting resume, but all volunteer into something that would be more traditionally accepted in a workplace environment. If I wanted to get a job with this resume, almost nothing on here is paid.
And I think that’s a challenge for a lot of women that they take a break from professional life to stay home and do things for their kids and with their kids. So I was really looking for a way to, what do I do about this? I came upon the Lilly family school of philanthropy’s graduate certificate program.
And that seems like a really great place to start. It was I think, six, two credit classes. And I started that one fall and I finished it, I think the following fall. And they said, if you want to roll this into a master’s, go ahead. It’s only an X number, more credits. And the program was a hundred percent online when I started it.
It’s designed to be online. So when COVID. I was still able to do the work that I had been doing uninterrupted at the Lilly school. So I’ll complete the master’s in another two weeks, I have a final paper to write. It’s killing me. I have senior-itis like, I can’t even tell you and the master’s will be complete.
And I describe it as an academic scaffold for professional experience. That was mostly volunteer. And what I hope that the Lilly family school degree provides me is a little bit of credible. That the Penn medicine hospital experience, the secondary school experiences, the small Montessori development experience, they all were significant enough experiences that the graduate program.
Pretty. Okay. A lot of what I learned in grad school was theory. What I learned also though, was that the practice I had been doing was in line with what best practices are. So this accidental fundraiser accidentally had a 20, almost your career doing this job relatively unpaid, but learned from the best in the business.
And I think learned really important lessons and learned best practices. And again, all accident.
Kimberly: Incredible. And what a background that you had just in working with so many well-established organizations, brand new organization of your background just organically was extremely varied educational along the way.
Let’s unpack that a little bit for our listeners and let’s start at the very beginning for someone who is just starting out as an accidental fundraiser. What advice would you give? I
Alyson Landers: would encourage them to seek whatever professional opportunities they can, professional development opportunities. They can, I was in a school setting.
So I took advantage of case conferences. I took advantage of the national association of independent schools, conferences. I did all this before LinkedIn. So I’m, I don’t, I can’t really speak to how you utilize LinkedIn to make these connections, but I was utilizing these professional conferences because we’d see some of the same leaders at these various conferences.
And I stood out because I was not a. For the most part was not a paid professional. I was there as a volunteer in most of these cases early on with the Montessori school. No, but for the bulk of my career of volunteer, I went as a board member. It was on my lapel kind of thing, but I would really encourage someone new to the business to do.
The end of the day, it’s still about old fashioned networking. It was 20 years ago. It was probably 40 years ago. It’s going to be 10 years from now as well. And however you best network, I would encourage someone to do that, to ask questions of people who are more established than you, who do work, that you admire and get their information, get their feedback.
Kimberly: Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with someone because they’re likely happy to hear from you and we’ll help you. You just got to make the ask. Right. And one of the things that I picked up on was you’re just quest for this lifelong learning and particularly around just understanding development and non-profit.
Organizational structure. So one thing that’s bird for me was if you are the chief everything officer, right, the nonprofit CEO or executive director, you may also want to budget some funds for your board members to be able to go and do these things so that they can learn. And you can really school up and network up your board members so that it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders.
Can you share a little bit more about your experience as a board member and have. The fundraising hat, there are things that you feel are essential for board members to truly understand as they step into supporting these smaller
Alyson Landers: organizations. This is actually where I’d like to hang my hat professionally is working with boards and working with individual board members.
I think the first thing that an organization or a development director or a CEO needs to do is have a very clear conversation with the board or with the board members individually about what is expected of them. What that organization’s ideal board member looks like. Does it look like someone that in addition to writing a check for you, does that person accompany you on visits?
Does that person invite people to breakfast at your organization? What does that board member do for you? And I used to say as a board member to the heads of the organizations that I needed to be utilized. And so if I could recommend one thing to an organization, it is to utilize your board members, to be very clear that it’s not just showing up at a quarterly meeting, that you need them to actually do something.
But the challenge for the organization is that. To come up with value added things for the board to do. So if that means that they accompany some perspective donors on a tour, your organization, or your client, your client services, whatever, encourage them to do that. On the board side, I would encourage.
The board to understand what their fiduciary responsibility is to the organization, but also what their duty of care is to the organization. What does a board member actually do for a nonprofit? And that may require actually reading a book. It may require listening to a podcast, but let’s do the homework.
Please. Don’t agree to lend your name and give your financial support to organization and not fully understand what your responsibilities are to that organism. It’s been interesting to both sit on boards and work with organizations whose board members don’t show up. I don’t understand if you’re asked to come to a quarterly meeting, why you can’t even do that, especially now in the land of zoom, you could call in also things like when the annual appeal goes out, that board should be a hundred percent in before the first stamp was put on a letter.
And I think that’s an interesting conversation to have with your board. I don’t ever get. Really good sense for most boards that they understand the power of their participation in fundraising. What that message sends to the community at large, that’s being asked to support an organization, if not you as the board then who, and so I really want to make sure that a board is educated on not only what the organization does and how they can help, but what the fundraising cycle looks like for that organization.
What are the expectations in terms of when letters go out, when the letters come back, what kind of return you’re expecting? What does that actually look like? Give me the mechanics of that so that I can understand that if I’m asking you on December 10th, a question about fundraising, I’m clear that December 31st is really the end of this conversation.
And maybe I’ll ask you again on January 10th. Like, I don’t want any board member to be confused about how any of this works. I think an educated board member. So valuable, even more valuable than perhaps your high net worth individual who sits on your board, if that high net worth individual sitting on your board does not understand the ins and outs of your organization and the ins and outs of what it means to be a good board member.
I think it behooves the organization to educate that board.
Kimberly: So I want to dive in a little bit into cost to raise a dollar. And then also board’s encouragement, understanding and support around using technology one to fundraise, but two to just scale the nonprofit organization. What have you learned in your experience as a board member and then also through the Lilly school about vesting in technology and trying to scale an organization?
Alyson Landers: It’s interesting because I’m working right now as a special project manager for a small museum in Westchester county, New York. And they didn’t have any wealth screening platform before I come on board. So that was a priority. We got it up and running and. The technology is only as good as the person that knows how to use it.
So one of the things I would say is if you’re going to invest in technology, choose a platform that is going to be user-friendly enough that your staff can quickly come up to speed on it with all due respect to Blackbaud out there. Like they’re great. But I understand from colleagues that it is a massively confusing and overwhelming platform, so.
There is no reason to buy the Mercedes-Benz of fundraising software. If you can really find a good organization that provides excellent client support and an easy to use product, and there’s a million of them out there and network for good, I know has great products. I would encourage the board members in particular to pump the brakes a little bit when they start pushing for technology, because everybody knows certain fancy brand names, but that’s not necessarily the best fit.
So the first thing I would say is make sure that the software answer fits your organism. The second thing I would say is make sure that you know how to use it for your organization. There’s pieces of what we use at the museum that we don’t use correctly. And one example is we don’t capture birth dates for anybody and they haven’t for years.
And how do you operate a plan giving program? If you have no real idea of the age of your membership? And we can guess at it, we can say, oh, they’re probably, but that’s not great. Oh, there probably is not really a great data point. So let’s make sure that the organization knows how to use that information or what it captures and use it really well.
I actually haven’t gotten hung up on the cost or is it. Because I just don’t think it’s a really great metric. I, as a board member would be more interested in salaries as they relate to the sector that you’re working in, as it relates to the geographical area you’re in, I think nonprofits have a terrible time attracting good talent.
If they can’t be competitive salaries, cost raise dollar. While I know there’s a metric there that everyone wants to hang their hat on that it’s not my favorite. I think there’s too many variables in an organization that, that. Necessarily mean much cost to raise a dollar also by the way, requires a massive and accurate accounting of data.
And so if you’re not collecting that data, then that costs to raise a dollar. Isn’t a great metric. Anyway, cause you’re just, you’re dividing budget numbers together and you’re not necessarily coming up, coming up with the right answer. If you’re not accounting for time doing the invitation to the gala is that.
Your cost to raise a dollar now is wrong. I’m more interested in how efficient is the budget overall and more particular in the case of advancement or fundraising work, are you paying your people?
Kimberly: Absolutely. And the need to retain staff is so critical to these non-profit organizations because that start and stop that occurs with turnover can really be debilitating in many ways, but particularly around fundraising.
If you have somebody who leaves your fundraising campaign may not be able to kick off on time. So we’ve got that issue with retention, and there are many ways in which you can, an organization can offer added. Employee benefits that don’t have to be wildly expensive, but can also help an organization retain and just feel better about how they’re supporting employees.
Have you seen some of those more unique forms of benefits or how have the boards that you’ve been on looked at that retention?
Alyson Landers: I haven’t had to, as a board member, had to look at the retention component and don’t forget, COVID now has hit, right? So it has shaken up the whole landscape of employment.
Three things I want to say. Number one is I get two emails a day with LinkedIn job listings for the New York Metro area. And each of them has 15 or 20 every day, not necessarily the same ones. So the nonprofit jobs out there. Very plentiful. The second thing is a lot of those job listings don’t offer salary information in them, and there’s a movement on Twitter.
And I can’t think of the name of the person. Now that’s pushing the movement for transparency in sharing salaries, because if we’re going to talk about retaining good people and capturing good people and encouraging good people, Transparent about what we’re interested in paying them. And the third thing I’ll share is that I took this job with the museum and my title officially a special project manager.
I was interning there last fall, and they had put out a job listing and they were getting resumes from people that had never fundraised a dime in their life and had never done anything around advancement fundraising, any nonprofit work. It was just scattering of random resumes. And the advancement people came to me and said, when you finish your internship, would you want to take the shop?
And I said, I really don’t major gifts is a full-time job. I’m still in school. I’ve got this empty nest that I have not been able to enjoy because of COVID. I wanted to travel with my husband at the time’s just not right, but thank you so much for even thinking of me. And they said, okay. And they came back about two weeks later and said, are you sure you don’t want to take this job?
And I said, okay, could we talk about it? But could we talk about a nontraditional struggle? And we were making this up as we went along and we continue to make it up as we go along. I’m not convinced that a major gift officer is a part-time job, but for right now, I’m working. Part-time 20 hours a week.
I’m working two days onsite and one day from home and this project position ends June 30th, which coincides with the end of their fiscal year. And we agreed at the end of June, we would figure out how we want to structure this going from. So the benefit to the museum has been, they did not have a major gifts officer before this.
They never had, they don’t have a major gifts cabinet. They don’t have a major gifts structure. And so now they do, it’s something that I’ve worked hard to put in place. We’ve done all kinds of website upgrades. We’ve done all kinds of PDF work, and we’re just about. Like when I hang up with you, I got to get back to it.
We’re sending out solicitation letters to the board for a major gifts initiative. This is brand new to them. So in this part-time nontraditional structure for a major gifts officer, they’ve gotten a little bit of what they were hoping to get. I do think this is a full-time job. I don’t think that you can be a major gifts officer and have relationships with major donors and do it on a part-time basis.
Having said that I think development work is never part time. And I think development work is never 40 hours a week. You’re always doing something after hours. You’re always connecting with people on a weekend or a time that you normally wouldn’t be working. So I think fundraising work by definition is not a traditional nine to five.
And so I think it behooves fundraisers and the people who love them to figure out how to make it palatable. Particularly after two years or three years, whatever it’s been of, COVID where people are not willing to go back to work in a traditional office space. They’re not willing to do this. They’re not.
So I think fundraising can’t be immune to that. And I think as board members, I would encourage them to work with their CEO to figure out what works best for that organization. What
Kimberly: advice do you have for our listeners around when there is friction between the executive director and the board, how can the two work
Alyson Landers: through.
I actually haven’t had that experience of having friction between the board head and the board. I’ve seen friction between other board members and the head. And I think that’s an interesting dynamic. I think for me, this all comes down to governance, any kind of friction or upset around those kinds of relationships, come down to governance and be really mindful of what their role is.
Now. Having said that the head of an organization, the CEO of an organization’s in a really difficult spot because. For the most part, the board is probably significant donors to the organization. I think there definitely is a situation where the CEO is probably going to have to take a step back and be a little bit quiet and somehow figure out how to navigate those waters and not upset the apple.
However, I would say that the chairman of the board has some responsibilities as well to be a good boss. And if that chairman of the board is not a good boss, I think the board as a whole, or certainly the executive committee needs to consider, what does it mean to be a good boss and how can we help this person be that.
Not an easy road to travel for sure. But hopefully the board or the executive committee is cohesive enough and trusting each other enough that they can have those difficult conversations. If they can’t have those difficult conversations, I would submit that it’s probably a little dysfunctional, even if you don’t agree on where the decimal point goes on a budget line that you trust each other and often respect each other enough to have the difficult conversations.
Kimberly: I want to touch on DEI diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on boards and how over the last several years, really over the last 10 years or so, there’s been major calling for more diversity, equity and inclusion on boards. What have you seen with that? And have there been any tactics that the boards that you’ve been involved with have employed that have really worked.
Alyson Landers: like the adage that your board should reflect the community that you serve. For example, when I first walked into the boardroom at the Princeton hospital foundation, and I’ve said this out loud to them, so it’s not a secret. I was like, oh my gosh, they’re all old white guys. And I was in my early forties.
I was a woman. It just was a weird. Feeling to be in that kind of space before I knew what DEI was. I was saying this doesn’t work for me. Like it’s all old white guys making decisions. And one of the goals that the hospital had was to really work on attracting board members who reflected the population that used the hospital.
So for the Princeton area in particular, Certainly it was a heavy population of white European background of people, but we had a very strong Southeast Asian population in the Mercer county, New Jersey area, as well as an Asian, particularly Chinese population. And what are the ways to outreach to those people?
What was quite effective for the board in the hospital board was finding a representative in the hospital organization who could speak to those cohorts. Authentically. And they would respect that speaker. In the case of the Asian community, we found a doctor who was of Korean descent, who was a powerful advocate for the hospital and would go to community centers for talk at night or write us a piece for the mailing that went out.
But he was extraordinarily effective because he was very well-respected in that. Want
Kimberly: to touch on something that you raised at the beginning when you were first starting out on boards, you had these boards that you were serving on, where there were very successful individuals, affluent individuals on the boards.
How did you handle. Any intimidation that you might’ve felt. And I wonder that as it pertains to the new executive directors, stepping in with a very high level board or the new accidental fundraiser who has this new board, and they may have come from another organization that doesn’t have the same stature of board members for whatever reason, how does one get through any intimidation that they might
Alyson Landers: have?
Certainly from a female perspective or maybe from a male, this idea of imposter syndrome is always in the back of my head. And so we had a couple of instances on a school board where the finance committee or something was explaining something and it didn’t make any sense to me and it kept listening to it and it still didn’t make any sense to me.
But I didn’t ask the question because I thought they know something at. And after the meeting was over, I turned to the woman next to me and I said, I’m sorry, that didn’t make any sense to me. And she said it made no sense to me either. And I didn’t want to ask a question because I was afraid and right.
There was just a killer reason for me to never not ask the question. It takes a little bit of backbone for sure. This idea that. Somebody who is higher that worth or more successful financially, whatever has better or more or better information than you, I think is something that we personally need to do the work around.
What does it mean to move past that for us? What does it mean for me to stand up and ask the hard question for those people who are concerned about feeling intimidated? I think education and information is your best ally. I would also encourage if you’re in a fundraising position, encourage your director to start a fundraising.
One-on-one with your board. If it’s not an in-person 15 minutes conversation, maybe it’s a handout. You can give them as part of their board packet. One year, I just did the concentric circles of bringing people in towards an and who’s at the center of the circle and who’s at the outer circle. And what does it look like to come forward that opened a lot of eyes are on the table because they just assume.
You’re going to ask the guy in the outer ring, you’re going to ask the guy in the inner ring, and they’re both going to write you checks like this idea of what it means to work people forward was very new to them. I also think by the way, that getting a couple of, of significant successes under your belt makes you stand taller.
So. If you’ve asked for a six figure gift and gotten a yes from that, chances are pretty good. Nobody else around the table has done that and they will be in awe of it. I think the six figure gifts that I have asked for and were relatively easy because so much work was done behind the scenes to get to that point.
But I don’t think a lot of people understand that work happens behind the scenes. They just think you walk up and ask somebody for a hundred thousand dollars. So the wow factor of that for somebody that doesn’t understand what goes into it, I think can give you a.
Kimberly: For those organizations that have a handful of major gift donors, but want to grow their program, where should they.
Alyson Landers: I think they should start with the existing major gift donors and have a conversation with them about how they think they can help you. And you can help the organization grow that stable of donor. I continue to say, after all the schooling, after all the experiences I’ve had. It’s just about relationship.
So if you’ve got a consistent long-term donor, who’s not quite at that major gift level. I think the next step for you is to have a conversation with that major donor and invite them to something, bring them into that circle. I keep that stupid bulls-eye circle in my, in the back of my head all the time, because for me, that’s what that is.
Your major donors at the center. You’ve got these people working on the edges. How am I going to get them inside for your major donors that are already in the. I think they can give you a lot of information about why they’re there and what keeps them there. And if you can understand that information really well, figure out how to translate it to the people that aren’t quite major donors yet.
I think this is a lot of conversation. I think this is a lot of work that can’t be codified in a paper file. I think it’s a lot of stuff that’s not capsule on a spreadsheet necessarily, but it’s no less important than any of that other. And for me, I think it starts with your stable of current donors and how you can expand from there, with some of the insights that they give you.
Kimberly: about those organizations that are thinking five years ahead to their major donors or the supporters that they want to be able to bring in? There’s so many organizations that say we have a lot of old. Generations of donors. How do they begin recruiting younger generations to support their organisms?
Alyson Landers: Again, I’m going to point to COVID for a minute and say that in the case of this museum, for example, COVID has really brought to a screeching halt the way that we cultivate and steward our donors, people aren’t coming out. They’re going to start to, now that the weather’s better, but if you say things like I’d really like to invite Mr.
Smith for coffee in the museum lobby, the answer will be, oh, he could do a zoom call. That’s really changed things for the museum. As we look to skew or bring in a younger cohort, we’ve really been challenged to figure out. What attracts a younger donor, what attracts a younger clientele to this museum.
And so for us in particular, we’ve really boosted the social media aspect of things. Not only with Instagram and Facebook, but with Tik TOK, I’m too old to be doing Tik TOK, but Tik TOK is a thing that the kids do today. So we’re doing tick-tock. I would also say before COVID we look to events that were like happy hour or museum after dark.
So this idea of after dark making it a little. Inclusive for people. It did bring a younger cohort in I’m doing a work now for school on family foundations. And one of the challenges for the family foundation is, you know, if the founder’s vision was, I want to give to education and they support Amherst college every year for a city of an amount of money, this younger generation grandchildren great-grandchildren come in and they realize that education, social justice, racial.
We are systemic racism. All of that stuff is playing in on education right now. So how does that family foundation be true to the founder’s vision and allow a younger donor to have their voice heard? I think that’s the same in any non-profit organization right now is let’s look at what’s important to people these days, and it is social injustice.
It is racial and equity. Democratic system. And more than that, now it’s also environment it’s environmental justice, it’s sustainability. And so for an organization, let’s look at what are you doing around those spaces? And if you’re doing interesting work, get the word out because younger people are really interested in giving to causes more specifically than organizations.
However, if your organization is making great inroads or making, doing good work in one of those areas, you will attract a donor who wants to see that work forward in their own backyard.
Kimberly: There are multiple paths to becoming an accidental fundraiser and let’s face it accidental or not. Fundraising’s hard, really hard, but in the end, it’s worth.
Alyson Landers: My name is Alison Landers, and I am an Accidental Fundraiser. It’s been a long, very rewarding career. It’s worth it because ultimately fundraising is about building communities of place, communities of choice, communities of function and fundraising supports all of that.
Kimberly: Yes. Yes you can. I’m Kimberly. See you next time on accidental fundraiser and be sure to follow along wherever you get your audio.